National Geographic News
Tanks of radiation-contaminated water.

Tanks of radioactive water tower over workers at the disabled Fukushima nuclear plant in March 2013. Tokyo Electric Power admits contaminated water has long been leaking into the Pacific Ocean, defying containment efforts. Japan's government views the situation as "urgent."

Photograph from Kyodo/Reuters

Patrick J. Kiger

National Geographic News

Published August 7, 2013

Tensions are rising in Japan over radioactive water leaking into the Pacific Ocean from Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, a breach that has defied the plant operator's effort to gain control.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday called the matter “an urgent issue” and ordered the government to step in and help in the clean-up, following an admission by Tokyo Electric Power Company that water is seeping past an underground barrier it attempted to create in the soil. The head of a Nuclear Regulatory Authority task force told Reuters the situation was an "emergency." (See Pictures: The Nuclear Cleanup Struggle at Fukushima.”)

It marked a significant escalation in pressure for TEPCO, which has come under severe criticism since what many view as its belated acknowledgement July 22 that contaminated water has been leaking for some time. The government now says it is clear that 300 tons (71,895 gallons/272,152 liters) are pouring into the sea each day, enough to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool every eight days.  (See related, “One Year After Fukushima, Japan Faces Shortages of Energy, Trust.”) While Japan grapples with the problem, here are some answers to basic questions about the leaks:

Q: How long has contaminated water been leaking from the plant into the Pacific?

Shunichi Tanaka, head of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority, has told reporters that it’s probably been happening since an earthquake and tsunami touched off the disaster in March 2011. (See related: "Photos: A Rare Look Inside Fukushima Daiichi.") According to a report by the French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety, that initial breakdown caused "the largest single contribution of radionuclides to the marine environment ever observed." Some of that early release actually was intentional, because TEPCO reportedly had to dump 3 million gallons of water contaminated with low levels of radiation into the Pacific to make room in its storage ponds for more heavily contaminated water that it needed to pump out of the damaged reactors so that it could try to get them under control.

But even after the immediate crisis eased, scientists have continued to find radioactive contamination in the waters off the plant. Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who has analyzed thousands of samples of fish from the area, said he’s continued to find the high levels of cesium-134, a radioactive isotope that decays rapidly. That indicates it’s still being released. "It’s getting into the ocean, no doubt about it," he said. "The only news was that they finally admitted to this." (See related: "Photos: Japan's Reactors Before And After.")

Q: How much and what sort of radiation is leaking from the plant into the Pacific?

TEPCO said Monday that radiation levels in its groundwater observation hole on the east side of the turbine buildings had reached 310 becquerels per liter for cesium-134 and 650 becquerels per liter for cesium-137. That marked nearly a 15-fold increase from readings five days earlier, and exceeded Japan’s provisional emergency standard of 60 becquerels per liter for cesium radiation levels in drinking water. (Drinking water at 300 becquerels per liter would be approximately equivalent to one year’s exposure to natural background radiation, or 10 to 15 chest X-rays, according to the World Health Organization. And it is far in excess of WHO’s guideline advised maximum level of radioactivity in drinking water, 10 becquerels per liter.)  Readings fell somewhat on Tuesday. A similar spike and fall preceded TEPCO’s July admission that it was grappling with leakage of the radioactive water. (See related: "Would a New Nuclear Plant Fare Better than Fukushima?")

Scientists who have been studying the situation were not surprised by the revelation, since radiation levels in the sea around Japan have been holding steady and not falling as they would if the situation were under control. In a 2012 study, Jota Kanda, an oceanographer at Toyko University of Marine Science and Technology, calculated that the plant is leaking 0.3 terabecquerels (trillion becquerels) of cesium-137 per month and a similar amount of cesium-134. While that number sounds mind-boggling, it’s actually thousands of times less than the level of radioactive contamination that the plant was spewing in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, estimated to be from 5,000 to 15,000 terabecquerels, according to Buesseler. For a comparison, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima released 89 terabecquerels of cesium-137 when it exploded. (See related: "Animals Inherit a Mixed Legacy at Chernobyl.")

Another potential worry: The makeup of the radioactive material being leaked by the plant has changed. Buesseler said the initial leak had a high concentration of cesium isotopes, but the water flowing from the plant into the ocean now is likely to be proportionally much higher in strontium-90, another radioactive substance that is absorbed differently by the human body and has different risks. The tanks (on the plant site) have 100 times more strontium than cesium, Buesseler said. He believes that the cesium is retained in the soil under the plant, while strontium and tritium, another radioactive substance, are continuing to escape. (Related: "Japan's Nuclear Refugees")

Q: Why is the plant continuing to leak?

There are at least a couple of possibilities. In an effort to cool and control the damaged reactors, TEPCO has pumped enormous amounts of water in and out. But that water is contaminated with radioactive material, and it has to go someplace. According to a recent report issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the plant operator has been storing highly contaminated water in seven underground storage ponds, which have a total of 60,000 tons (14.4 million gallons/54.5 million liters) of capacity. In April, TEPCO workers discovered that at least three of the ponds were leaking. The IAEA concluded that the company’s monitoring system, which hadn’t spotted the breach, was insufficient to spot such outflow. So it could be that the faulty containments, which are now being replaced, are the source of at least some of the contaminated water that’s gotten into the ocean.

But most experts seem to think that ordinary movement of groundwater probably is the real culprit. An estimated 400 tons (95,860 gallons/ 362,870 liters) of water streams into the basements of the damaged reactors each day. Keeping that water from continuing to flow into the ocean is crucial. As the IAEA noted in its report, "the accumulation of enormous amounts of liquids due to the continuous intrusion of underground water into the reactor and turbine buildings is influencing the stability of the situation."

"Big surprise—water does flow downhill," said Dr. Janette Sherman, a medical expert on radiation and toxic exposure who once worked as a chemist for the Atomic Energy Commission, the forerunner of today’s U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. "If you’ve ever had a leak in your house during a storm, you know how hard it is to contain water. There’s a lot of water going into the plant, and it’s got to go someplace. It’s very hard to stop this."

Q: What can be done to stop the leaking?

According to TEPCO’s latest full status report on the cleanup of Fukushima Daiichi, issued in October 2012, the utility company already had put in place an array of measures to try to control the radioactive water. It built a groundwater bypass system, which tries to siphon off and reroute groundwater flowing down from the mountain side of the complex, before it can get into the basements of the reactor buildings and be contaminated. But that doesn’t seem to have made much of a dent in the problem. (See related: "Pictures: 'Liquidators' Endured Chernobyl 25 Years Ago.")

Plant workers also tried to create an underground barrier by injecting chemicals into the soil to solidify the ground along the shoreline of the Unit 1 reactor building. But TEPCO officials Tuesday said the water was seeping under or past this barrier. Officials also believe the water is rising to the surface, which is a troubling development because it could hasten leakage into the sea.

The company also continues to add to a massive tank farm on the site, with capacity to store about 400,000 tons (95 million gallons/360 million liters) of contaminated water, and is planning to add an additional 300,000 tons of capacity over the next three years. Unfortunately, TEPCO must deal with an ever-increasing amount of contaminated water—nearly 150,000 tons (35.9 million gallons/136 million liters) a year—so it’s inevitable that the company is going to run out of storage space.

That’s why TEPCO seems to be betting heavily on another solution—an elaborate state-of-the art system for filtering the accumulated water and removing radioactive materials from it. According to New Scientist, the new system supposedly can filter out 62 different radioactive substances. However, the April IAEA report noted that the filtering system is still a work in progress, and that in tests so far, "it has not accomplished the expected result" in terms of removing radioactive material from the water. Additionally, the system doesn’t remove tritium, which isn’t as radioactive as other materials in the water, but which still is a health hazard if it is inhaled or ingested. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that TEPCO hopes eventually to be able to discharge the cleansed water into the ocean, though that plan would likely meet intense opposition from local fishermen. Sherman, who has a chemistry background, said she’s skeptical that such a process could work on the enormous scale required. "You can precipitate these things out in the laboratory, but you’re talking about millions of gallons here," she explained.

In a July 26 press release, TEPCO also said it would continue construction of a shielding wall along the waterline, but that structure will not be finished until September 2014. Marine scientist Buesseler isn’t sure that will work, either. "You can build a dam, but eventually the water goes around it," he explained.

Q: How far is the radiation spreading, and how fast does it travel?

The initial gigantic deluge of contaminated water dispersed through the immediate Fukushima coastal area very quickly, according to a 2012 report by the American Nuclear Society. But it takes years for the contamination to spread over a wider area. A mathematical model developed by Changsheng Chen of the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth and Robert Beardsley of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute found that radioactive particles disperse through the ocean differently at different depths. The scientists estimated that in some cases, contaminated seawater could reach the western coast of the United States in as little as five years. Buesseler thinks the process occurs a bit more rapidly, and estimates it might take three years for contamination to reach the U.S. coastline.

Q: What are the potential risks to humans, and who might be affected by the contamination?

This is a murky question, because it’s not that easy to determine whether health problems that may not show up for decades are caused by exposure to radioactive contamination. A report released in February by the World Health Organization, which was based upon estimates of radiation exposure in the immediate wake of the accident, concluded that it probably would cause "somewhat elevated" lifetime cancer rates among the local population. But figuring out the effect of years of exposure to lower levels of radioactive contamination leaking into the ocean is an even more complicated matter.

Minoru Takata, director of the Radiation Biology Center at Kyoto University, told the Wall Street Journal that the radioactive water doesn’t pose an immediate health threat unless a person goes near the damaged reactors. But over the longer term, he’s concerned that the leakage could cause higher rates of cancer in Japan.

Marine scientist Buesseler believes that the leaks pose little threat to Americans, however.  Radioactive contamination, he says, quickly is reduced "by many orders of magnitude" after it moves just a few miles from the original source, so that by the time it would reach the U.S. coast, the levels would be extremely low. (See related, “Rare Video: Japan Tsunami.”)

Q: Will seafood be contaminated by the leaks?

As Buesseler’s research has shown, tests of local fish in the Fukushima area still show high enough levels of radiation that the Japanese government won’t allow them to be caught and sold for human consumption—a restriction that is costing Japanese fishermen billions of dollars a year in lost income.  (But while flounder, sea bass, and other fish remained banned for radiation risk, in 2012 the Japanese government did begin allowing sales of octopus and whelk, a type of marine snail, after tests showed no detectable amount of cesium contamination.)

Buesseler thinks the risk is mostly confined to local fish that dwell mostly at the sea bottom, where radioactive material settles. He says bigger fish that range over long distances in the ocean quickly lose whatever cesium contamination they’ve picked up. However, the higher concentration of strontium-90 that is now in the outflow poses a trickier problem, because it is a bone-seeking isotope. "Cesium is like salt—it goes in and out of your body quickly," he explains. "Strontium gets into your bones." While he’s still not too concerned that fish caught off the U.S. coast will be affected, "strontium changes the equation for Japanese fisheries, as to when their fish will be safe to eat." (See related blog, “Safety Question on Fukushima Anniversary: Should Plants of the Same Design Have Filtered Vents?”)

This story is part of a special series that explores energy issues. For more, visit The Great Energy Challenge.

52 comments
Russell Day
Russell Day

Friends, it is way too long this hasn't been really fixed.  What is needed is humanoid like robots that Japan was supposed to be good at, to go in there and move the rods to positions that don't threaten us.  The Robots those Japanese were supposed to be good at are supposed to be called in to do the right thing now.  They also need to just do the right thing and freeze deep all the area for aquifer protection.  Making a decision is what it takes.  Japan really ought to be taken over by the UN, or the US, Russia, China, and France because they are doing passive war on the whole earth by failure that as it is tolerated shows Earthlings are failures.


Jay Gee
Jay Gee

We have had the technology to go green and harness the power of the sun wind and water and use sustainable energy sources.. Nuclear power and fossil fuels are outdated technology a caveman can realize this is going to destroy our planet or make it inhabitable for use to enjoy living here. The wrong people Are in charge of our world and being driven by money and greed not the well being of our mothers earth it's already to late in my opinion the damage has been done. CHANGE NEEDS TO HAPPEEN NOW!!!

Marcos Pereira
Marcos Pereira

The world has just been nuked 85 times more then Hiroshima was! And getting worse every day! Thank you Japan!

Deborah Burns
Deborah Burns

Mimi in answer to part of your question look who support NG She'll Oil.....

Mimi Taylor
Mimi Taylor

UNBELIEVABLE! The American media is FINALLY on to this! A little too late! Where has National Geographic been for the last 2 years? The only news about this apocalyptic disaster has come from Youtube videos that most would consider "fringe"! But do you know what? Kevin Blanch, et al were RIGHT ALL ALONG! There is no wall of SHAME BIG ENOUGH for the irresponsible failure of American journalists, news agencies and news services to report the facts about this event! So, what happened to the "NEWS" in American? Look who's behind the iron curtain now?

Mimi Taylor
Mimi Taylor

UNBELIEVABLE! The American media is FINALLY on to this! A little too late! Where has National Geographic been for the last 2 years? The only news about this apocalyptic disaster has come from Youtube videos that most would consider "fringe"! But do you know what? Kevin Blanch, et al were RIGHT ALL ALONG! There is no wall of SHAME BIG ENOUGH for the irresponsible failure of American journalists, news agencies and news services to report the facts about this event! So, what happened to the news? Look who's behind the iron curtain now?

barry wicksman
barry wicksman

SO WHY ARE THE OLYMPICS BEING HELD IN JAPAN. LET THEM GET THEIR RADIOACTIVE  TRIP TOGETHER FIRST.

Stacia Hypsch
Stacia Hypsch

I'm much more concerned about the SEA LIFE versus human beings....SEA LIFE doesn't have a CHOICE. 

Charles Donnelly
Charles Donnelly

let's see--one Olympic pool every eight days divided into how many Olympic sized pool volumes in the ocean? or, 78000 gal /day into ??? g/ half a world.?

Of course this isn't good, but a little perspective please.

Rich Cash
Rich Cash

Re "cesium-134, a radioactive isotope that decays rapidly"

A two-year half-life means half the ionizing radiation is left after two years, one-quarter after four years, one-eighth after six years, one sixteenth after eight-years. Medical Scientists know all radiation is dangerous, or Edison's X Ray assistant, the Curies and their radium-exposed medical students including Sigmund Freud would not have died of cancer, despite taking precautions, and sunscreen would not sell.

The more common cesium 137 has a half-life of 30 years and strontium-90 has a half-life of 29 years, two facts also omitted in the article.

Seafood, kelp and seals on the West Coast of America already showed up with these radioisotopes, alerting sushi lovers.

The plutonium in Fukushima reactor three has a half-life of 80 million years, perhaps explaining why the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier 80 nautical miles away set off red alert radiation alarms for helicopters, crew, air and water systems and went through an 18-month decontamination at Bremerton and Hanford, WA.

So much for the most transparent administration in history compromised by corporate contributors.

Time to tell the truth for constructive change    


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Rich Cash
Rich Cash

re "cesium-134, a radioactive isotope that decays rapidly"

not everyone considers a two year half-life rapid, since half is left at the end of two years, one quarter at the end of four years, one-eighth at the end of six years and all radiation is dangerous, or sunscreen would not sell

More to the point, the more common Fukushima cesium 137 has a half-life of 30 years

the abundant Strontium 90 cited has a half-life of 29 years

Plutonium 244 has a half-life of 80 million years, which put the 80 nautical mile downwind USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier and crew into red radiation alerts and 18 months of decontamination at Bremerton and Hanford, WA.  

Hardly insignificant matters for the most transparent admninistration in history


http://amzn.to/14T44Bh

      

Rich Cash
Rich Cash

re "cesium-134, a radioactive isotope that decays rapidly"

not everyone considers a two year half-life rapid, since half is left at the end of two years, one quarter at the end of four years, one-eighth at the end of six years and all radiation is dangerous, or sunscreen would not sell

More to the point, the more common Fukushima cesium 137 has a half-life of 30 years

the abundant Strontium 90 cited has a half-life of 29 years

Plutonium 244 has a half-life of 80 million years, which put the 80 nautical mile downwind USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier and crew into red radiation alerts and 18 months of decontamination at Bremerton and Hanford, WA.  

Hardly insignificant matters for the most transparent admninistration in history


http://amzn.to/14T44Bh

      

Jabba the Hutt
Jabba the Hutt

Radioactive isotopes can get concentrated up the food-chain. By the time they make it into someone's plate things can be quite ugly, even all the way across the Pacific.

Kevin Konnyu
Kevin Konnyu

One more question for National Geographic: what are the risks in the months, years and decades ahead if leaking persists at present rates?

Wayne Anderson
Wayne Anderson

My back of the envelope math indicates that the fukushima disaster has already released INTO THE SEA more irradiated water than all of the buried storage facilities of Hanford nuclear site.

Not including the original 3 million gallon dump during the crisis itself, at about 71,000 gallons a day (and change) since March 11, 2011, we are at more than 61 million gallons drained into the sea.

Mark Dacosta
Mark Dacosta

We as all human are like children, right from when we ate the forbidden fruit and so for the giants that physically reached higher heights with their careless and egotistically thought that they would live like kings. Well we as a human nation were strong able to take down these giants like driver ant going through a jungle, well not any more, we now have everything laid down for us, thanks to Hitler and ufo crashes and time travelers we were able to gain these godly covenants that have laid our future out for us, most of these technological improvements were from a higher up like god, we as human are using GODS technology and trying to apply it to everything when god has only created it for life and world and universe its why we are here its why the world is here, some how Hitler stole it like ice cream from a kid and when this happened our Evolution began. Americans stole/paid German scientists and that is when Americans Evolution started now that America has gained Gods power they will now use it like toys, they will share it to the world and make trillions they will make butter milk eggs cars subs planes with gods power even tho we have butter milk and eggs that's not good enough they want to make it with gods power, you think we can control something that gods science made??nope not even with gods science, yes we are all children when it come to nuclear because we were not suppose to have it, who is to say we the world wont have a power failure, meteors do exist and if one hit ye that could lead to hundreds of Fukushimas give a toy to a kid see how long it lasts put some tires on a car see how long it lasts, now look at how long "plutonium 239" lasts, over 24,000 years.

now if you can build a machine that can last that long i would say yes maybe we can handle gods energy, like how i say you, yes you know why because its only them that created it not us the world, you would think if the world helped create something it would probably last longer that if 10 scientists made it, yes even probably someone who has not graduated who still knows how to make a sandwich could probably with the worlds help and worlds advice to could probably create something like that, but this world is so confined in its authority and power in that you need this and that to become this is so closed minded and that is what our earth consists of, if you did not graduate or know nothing about it than you are nothing even those you know how to fix this problem they will not listen to you, the funny thing is the person who still knows how to make the sandwich probably knows how to fix this problem, but you're not qualified in the books so the earth will continue to die because of the governments high authority of jumping thought their hoops not yours, this earth is dying, dumping waste in the ocean they are saying its good than 2 years later they saying its not, their saying it will work but its not and it will not do this, we are not talking about filtering oil here people we are talking about nuclear waste a BIG DIFFERENCE, we need to fix this problem, the only way is to stop nuclear energy, fossil fuels i have no problem with its just nuclear power, they like to play with nuclear because there is big dollars behind it and that means big money to be made. DID YOU NOTICE our ice caps been melting, yes you did of course its normal, im sorry but its not, the ice caps have been melting drastically since the golf oil spill and this Fukushima, the BP oil spill is NYC rat poop and burps coming from the sewer to the environment  because its still dripping from the pipe farm under the ocean, now the Fukushima is like live stock all over the world farting and pooping and burping all at once all the time in one spot 24/7 365days a year not the same thing but pretty much the same damage and probably worse and this is why in the past 4 years the world has gained a new channels up north for ships to shore and yes this is a good thing to the government because now mommy's door is unlocked so they can deliver faster and get more oil and fuel,, if we can cure cancer, would we? or would we say we cant when we can. is this helping the world?, why do they let this happen? so the world can snap and have sex in the streets because the world is going to end?, does this help the government improve?, is this why this continues? would you not want to just end thisFukushima now, we would probably say nuke the nuke plant but that's just the quick way out but that is probably what they would have to do, this toxic waste is non stop over and over, FUKUSHIMA IS A TOXIC WASTE PRODUCTION PLANT producing endless amounts of nuclear waste that takes1000s of years to dissipate, trying to build a wall will not work maybe for a oil spill but not this we are talking nuclear waste here people oops "government" sorry people your not the one controlling this your undergraduate mind have no play in this. FIX IT NOW OR IT WILL BE TO LATE.

James Mooney
James Mooney

In Japan, their government bows to Tokyo Electric, the same way our DOJ bows to the banks, and the FDA bows to Monsanto. And why do they? The market cap of Tokyo Electric is One Trillion Dollars - enough to buy every politician in Japan, and then buy every one in America to boot (except they don't have to since our media and government is playing ball - then again, who can say who they already bribed here?)

Geoff Russell
Geoff Russell

First WHO report has been misrepresented. They expect "no observable" increase in cancer risk. The word 'observable' is really important. It means any change in cancer rates (up or down) is smaller than normal fluctuations. 

Second. Suppose you took the 150,000 evacuees and resettled them in the US. What would happen to the cancer rate? It would rise, particularly in the children. By how much? About 50 percent. The age standardised cancer incidence in Japan is about 200 per 100,000 people per year compared to 300 per 100,000 people per year in the US (or Australia). ie., living around the triple meltdown is far less carcinogenic than the US lifestyle. Think about that. Radiation is a carcinogen, but its incredibly weak compared to things like being fat, being sedentry, eating red and processed meat ... etc.


Visvire NEscio
Visvire NEscio

50,000 years,  that's how long it takes to disapear

Robb Sturtcman
Robb Sturtcman

We should not be screwing around with nuclear energy. Flailing like children when we make a mess, with really no idea how to fix the situations. Long term thought is also the equivalent of an infant: out of site out of mind.

It's just never going to be worth the risks. Yet, w/o it we're dependent on destructive fossil fuels. Sounds like a certain species needs to cut it's population back a few billion. Your move Lady Earth.

Peace Seeker
Peace Seeker

The film tells the story of the Japanese nuclear plant meltdown in 2011 and the cover-up by the Japanese government and TEPCO. The film documents how the nuclear energy program for "peaceful atoms" was brought to Japan under the auspices of the US military occupation. It explores the criminal cover-up of the safety dangers of the plant by TEPCO and GE management, which built the plant in Fukushima. Included is an interview with Kei Sugaoka, the GE nuclear plant inspector from the bay area who exposed cover-ups in the safety at the Fukushima plant and was retaliated against by GE. The film features the voices of the people and workers about the reality of the disaster. It shows what this means not only for the people of Japan but the people of the world as the US government and nuclear industry continue to push for more new plants and government subsidies. This film breaks the information blockade and the cover-up by the corporate media in Japan, the US and around the world that seeks to convince the public that Fukushima is over. 

http://www.cultureunplugged.com/documentary/watch-online/play/11961

Mark Goldes
Mark Goldes

Radioactivity has reached the West Coast in substantial amounts ever since the Tsunami.

An all too possible solar superstorm can cause blackouts lasting for months worldwide. After two weeks all nuclear plants are meltdown candidates. That could result in "hundreds of Fukushimas". This is the Achilles heel of nuclear power.

See FOUR DIRE THREATS at www.aesopinstitute.org

Revolutionary new science can replace all fossil and radioactive fuels far faster than is generally believed. See NO FUEL ENGINE on the same site for a strategy to make that happen fast enough to matter.

Jesse Kelly
Jesse Kelly

@Marcos PereiraWhile I agree that it was insane to build a nuclear plant in the Ring of Fire, it is not fair to simply point fingers at Japan and ignore what the U.S. is doing. Here in California, we have two nuclear plants on the coast, built in close proximity to massive and very dangerous fault lines. And how about all the carbon we spew into the atmosphere from our coal plants and fracking wells? Irreversible climate change may take longer to be realized than radioactive poisoning, but it is no less destructive.

Walt Portugal
Walt Portugal

@Charles DonnellyEven if it were a GLASS per day. Perspective my ***. Please tell your reasoning to the animals and wildlife AND people who are in the direct area and surrounding areas. See what they think. It is thinking like this, that made the rest of the world say, ahh, with perspective, this disaster is not so bad at all. You are probably going to be just fine. Might not see the real results of this disaster. There are however, people that will live long enough to see the true results of this. In perspective? It will only be a small group of people compared to the rest of the world. Right? Did you see this: http://www.redflagnews.com/headlines/japan-finally-admits-the-truth-right-now-we-have-an-emergency-at-fukushima

Prateek Lala
Prateek Lala

@Rich Cash Slight correction: Sigmund Freud was never a student of the Curies, as he was older than both Marie and Pierre. The oral cancer he eventually died of was most likely caused by his heavy smoking.

Jabba the Hutt
Jabba the Hutt

@Wayne Anderson , measurements indicate 3 gigabecquerels flow into the ocean everyday, the equivalent of over 10,000 becquerels per liter. Yet, TEPCO keep saying ground water is at a few hundred becquerels. They simply don't have a clue what is happening in the reactors. This is a crisis multiple times that in Chernobyl.

Mike Todd
Mike Todd

@Wayne Anderson Let's also keep this in perspective.  650 Becquerels per liter is about 4x the amount of radiation given off by an equivalent volume of normal, everyday bananas.

Todd Mulvaney
Todd Mulvaney

@Mark Dacosta  

Wow....how about just your life one day at a time.....by the time you've completed your extremely pessimistic diatribe.....you'll be too old sitting in a wheel chair "pooping" on yourself.....

d kel
d kel

@Mark Dacosta Must suck going through life in a constant state of worry. I feel sorry for people like you.

Amanda Piasta
Amanda Piasta

@Robb Sturtcman What we should really consider is not nuclear or fossil fuels. What we should be doing is harnessing more of the natural sources such as WIND, WATER (waves create massive force) and of course SOLAR. It is actually mind boggling how effective all of these NATURAL sources of energy are, but are not being utilized nearly as much as oil, nuclear, etc.

Jonathan Krailller
Jonathan Krailller

Alright, just off yourself and we'll all be a little better for it.

Brad Buhrkuhl
Brad Buhrkuhl

@Robb Sturtcman No, we should not have 60 year old nuke plants still in use.  There are MUCH more modern reactor designs which have much less problems than anything else we have today.

Keyto Clearskies
Keyto Clearskies

"Where's the magic overunity transformer? You've said you've had one working since 2004.

"Where's the magic overunity tuning fork? You've said you've had that working since early 2007.

"Where's the magic overunity motor? You've said you've had that since mid 2007.

"Where's the magic ambient heat engine? Over a year ago you said you had a car that ran 4800 miles on it.

"You said the transformer broke. You said you never built another one because it so much faster and easier to build your magic tuning forks. That was three years ago. After a year and a half of the tuning fork ruse, you switched to the ambient heat scam. The car, the outboard motor, the golf cart you said ran from ambient heat alone, you cannot produce for inspection. You told the childishly ridiculous story that the inventor removed the engine, and sold the car. The car is gone but where is the magic motor that you say propelled it? Was it siezed with the outboard motor and golf cart by agents of big oil or aliens? And now you're onto the hydrino scam..."

 "You've established a quarter century history of telling fantastical tales of nonexistant wonder energy machines. The quantity, variety, and persistence of your storytelling in exchange for investor cash earns you the dishonorary title of: "The Baron Von Munchausen of the Free Energy Circuit".

- Penny Gruber, 09/08/2009

http://energybiz.com/blog/09/09/battery-manufacturers-vs-v2g-no-easy-winners

Keyto Clearskies
Keyto Clearskies

"For over 20 years Mark Goldes has claimed his company MPI has been developing machines that generate energy for free. In over 20 years his company has not presented one shred of evidence that they can build such machines...

"For the past five years Mark Goldes has been promising generators 'next year.' He has never delivered. Like 'Alice in Wonderland' there will always be jam tomorrow, but never jam today.

- Penny Gruber, December 2008

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Penny_Gruber/dispatches-from-pozna-gre_b_148313_18567927.html

- Penny Gruber's comment was written almost five years ago - but it's just as true today - except that MPI, Goldes' corporation that he claimed would bring in one billion dollars in revenue from his imaginary generator in 2012, is now defunct, having never produced any "Magnetic Power Modules" - just as his company called "Room Temperature Superconductors Inc" is also now defunct, having never produced any "room temperature superconductors." Evidently there's a limit to how many years in a row the same company can claim it will finally have something to demonstrate "next year." Now Goldes has a new scamporation, Chava Energy. 

Richard Alexander
Richard Alexander

@Mark Goldes When has power ever been knocked out to any nuclear reactor, for any reason, for 2 weeks? When has a solar storm ever knocked out power for months at a time? If these events are so likely, why haven't they happened in a century? Do you really think society would survive months without power, anyway? None of this makes sense! 

Susan Martin
Susan Martin

@Jesse Kelly @Marcos Pereira  The Lawrence Livermore Lab is sitting right on the San Andres fault. I lived right on that fault. You can clearly see the in the earth where it separated and "broke" during one of the millions of quakes that have hit California. I don't understand why they would have any nuclear power plants or labs anywhere near such a volatile area. That's just another example of how man thinks he is indestructible. One little slip, one little quake and it is all going to blow sky high and we will have our own version of Chernobyl but bigger and badder than before. Nuclear power could be so awesome but we don't have the brain power to harness it properly so until we do, lets just put it all away and figure out how to use the sun.

Jabba the Hutt
Jabba the Hutt

@Mike Todd, pretty skeptical a liter of bananas gives off 150 Becquerels, equivalent of 5 chest X-rays!

Swiftright Right
Swiftright Right

@Brad Buhrkuhl @Robb Sturtcman yes lets hope that they stay in the "design" phase indefinitely. 

The only way atomic power competes is with massive subsidies, it cant even compete with Wind and solar with out massive gov handouts.

C. Washburn
C. Washburn

@Brad Buhrkuhl @Robb Sturtcman Yes, but! What about storage of the high level radioactive waste? There are over a hundred radioactive elements produced in a reactor and a few of them are lethal in minute quantities. Like plutonium 239, for instance, which has a half-life of over 24,000 years. Storing 60 yrs of waste from over 200 reactors in a site riddled with earthquake faults, upwind of our breadbasket states and the most heavily populated areas in the country doesn't seem like a prudent (or even sane) solution, does it? We're talking about Yucca Mountain and if there's another Republican administration anytime soon, it'll probably be an open issue again, posthaste. Adding even more waste from newer designs isn't going to solve that problem. Until we have, we have no business adding to the horrifying mess we already have on our hands. We should be decommissioning reactors and not replacing them until we have solved the terrible problems that they have already created. 

Waninahi W.
Waninahi W.

Do you really believe that if we had another Carrington Event today we would be able to keep the grid going? Scientists have been warning for years that just one major solar storm like Carrington or even less would take out our aging pathetically inadequate power grid. No one listened. In 2008, the National Academy of Sciences said there would be “extensive social and economic disruptions” & a $2 trillion price tag. China has said it could take up to 10 years for it to build & replace components we get from there. It's not a question of 'if', but WHEN.

Nathan Sponberg
Nathan Sponberg

@Jabba the Hutt @Mike Todd 

Natural potassium, which contains radioactive potassium isotopes, has an activity level of about 31 Bg/g (Becquerels/gram).  A banana contains about .5 grams of potassium, giving it a radioactivity level of about 15 Bg. Thus, about 10 bananas would give off about 150 Becquerels of radiation. Ten bananas is probably a bit more than a liter of bananas in volume, but Mike is pretty close in his estimation. 

James Mooney
James Mooney

@Waninahi W.  We could harden all those transformers for about one percent of the cost of the Iraq war, which was based totally on lies. Yet the Carrington Event was true - it happened, and is overdue.

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