Fukushima Update 2018

Fukushima Update 2018 – please scroll down for Japanese translation

Seven years after the triple meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, TEPCO, the company who own and run the plant, have finally managed to locate some of the melted fuel inside one of the three wrecked reactors. By sending a camera robot into reactor 3 they have confirmed that most of the 364 tons of melted nuclear fuel has burnt through the bottom of the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) and has slumped to the concrete floor of the primary containment vessel (PCV) underneath. TEPCO said they think that the molten fuel had escaped through the holes in the RPV, through which the control rods are inserted, by melting the graphite gaskets which sealed the holes. The designers used graphite because they assumed the reactor fuel would never melt down.

TEPCO also got robots into reactors 1 and 2, but one was quickly overcome by the high levels of radiation inside the reactor, and the other one became caught on the fuel debris. Now they will have to design metal-cutting machinery which can get inside the PCVs to chip away at the deadly piles of melted fuel, without also being wiped out by the radiation. How to shield the workers operating this machinery? They could fill the PCVs with water – if they could find and patch the many holes in them. “We will have it all done in 40 years,” they still claim. But most of them will be retired long before then, leaving the next generation to sort it out.

TEPCO have now surrounded the four reactor buildings with an “ice wall” composed of vertical pipes which freeze the soil around them to create a barrier. This is to reduce the 400 tons per day of groundwater which has been flowing through the site, entering the basements of the reactor buildings and becoming strongly radioactive through contact with the melted fuel there before flowing on into the ocean. Although the ice wall is now fully frozen, the Japanese NRA (Nuclear Regulation Authority) say that they doubt if it will be “very effective” as many pipes and channels cut through the area, and it is not possible to freeze the ground under them. So this eye-wateringly expensive ice wall, combined with other measures such as wells, has only reduced the water flowing through the site, by two-thirds, to around 120 tons a day.

In fact the ice wall has created another serious problem by causing a huge volume of radioactive water to accumulate in the area inside it. It’s as if the four reactor buildings are now sitting in a ‘bathtub’ of water which, less able to flow out of the site, is becoming increasingly radioactive due to the melted fuel in the basements. Should the ice wall melt due to a failure of its power supply, or should a future earthquake shatter it or the rock underneath it, then this huge volume of deadly water will escape and make its way into the ocean and hence our food chain.

Another problem is that inside this ‘bathtub’, the ground is becoming increasingly waterlogged and soggy. No one knows what effect this will have on the stability of

the four damaged reactor buildings. Three of the reactor buildings, no’s 1, 2 and 3, still have many tons each of highly radioactive used fuel rods cooling down in swimming-pool-sized ‘spent fuel pools’ up on their fourth floors.  Should these buildings collapse during another earthquake or due to subsidence in the soggy ground, the pools will drain, and the rods will be exposed to the air causing them to burn and release clouds of radioactivity which would permanently cut Japan in half and necessitate the evacuation of Tokyo. With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics just around the corner. TEPCO have nearly finished building a new, stronger roof for reactor 3, so that they can lift out the 88 tons of fuel in the spent fuel pool there. Hopefully they will do so before another big earthquake strikes. But that still leaves reactor 2 with 100 tons of spent fuel, and reactor 1 with 50 tons, in the pools on their fourth floors …

Around 900,000 tons of highly radioactive water are being stored in huge tanks on the site. This water is contaminated with tritium – radioactive hydrogen. Since it’s impossible to separate tritium from water, they are now planning to dump it all into the sea. Although it’s no doubt cheaper to do this tritium is readily absorbed by anything which contains water so it can contaminate any fish, vegetables or animals which it encounters and hence end up in the food we eat. The local fisher-folk are objecting strenuously, saying that this will destroy the still fragile reputation of Fukushima fish products.

And there are more than 22 million one-tonne bags of radioactive waste from the ‘cleanup’ to be dealt with. These are currently stacked in farmers’ fields, beside roads and rivers, along beaches and near schools and houses.

The central premise of nuclear energy advocates has always been that the by-products from the splitting of uranium atoms would always be kept out of the environment. Now that this premise has been proved false they’ve raised the ‘permitted’ dose of radiation to which citizens of Fukushima can be exposed from the global standard (for non-occupational exposures) of 1 millisievert per year to 20 millisieverts per year (20 mSv/yr).

So if your former village is polluted to a level of 19.9 mSv/yr, the government now wants you to move back. They will have stopped financial support for you to live elsewhere, and your compensation payments. This may cause you such economic hardship that you and your children are forced to return to your ruined village, and accept the increased risk to your health, and the even greater risk to the health of your children, as well as the threat of new calamities posed by the ruined reactors tottering at the edge of your neighbourhood. This new 20 mSv/yr radiation threshold is utterly scandalous; the increased risk of cancers and many other radiogenic illnesses imposed on vulnerable populations in order to protect the economic and military interests of a powerful minority. Hopefully as awareness of this appalling situation spreads it will come to a rapid end.

Leaflet produced by Kick Nuclear London: www.kicknuclear.com. For the best updates, photos and videos on the situation at Fukushima: www.fukuleaks.org/web/


福島 最新情報 2018年










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