Toxic groundwater found in Fukushima No. 1 well just 6 meters from Pacific

JIJI

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Saturday it has detected high levels of radioactive substances, including strontium, emitting beta rays in groundwater taken from a well at the port of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Tepco said 3,000 becquerels of radioactive substances per liter were recorded in groundwater from the well, located just 6 meters from the Pacific. That concentration is 100 times higher than the maximum legal limit.

As levels of radioactive tritium have been rising in seawater around the port, radioactive substances are suspected to have leaked into the ocean.

“It is true that radioactive contamination has been found from groundwater near the sea, but we do not know whether tainted water has made its way into the Pacific,” a Tepco official said.

The contamination was found in a water sample collected Friday. The well is the nearest to the shore among the four wells used for observation purposes at the plant, according to Tepco, and the radiation levels from its groundwater also were the highest detected.

Also Friday, Tepco recorded 1,400 becquerels of beta ray-emitting radioactive substances such as strontium in groundwater from another of the wells, situated 25 meters from the sea.

The latest revelations came after readings of tritium and strontium-90 were found to be eight to 30 times higher than the permissible limit in ground water from that well in May. After that discovery, Tepco expanded the area it surveys and drilled an additional observation well nearer to the Pacific.

Over the last few months, levels of radioactive tritium in seawater near the water intakes of reactors 1 to 4 at the crippled complex soared to 1,500 becquerels per liter at one point. A member of the Nuclear Regulation Authority earlier said it is “highly likely” that contaminated groundwater has leaked into the Pacific.

Following the triple meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, huge amounts of highly radioactive water gushed into the Pacific through a duct containing cables for reactor 2, one of the three wrecked units. Tepco sealed the duct in April 2011, but some of the remaining tainted water is believed to have leaked and become mixed with groundwater, officials at the utility said.

  • Masa Chekov

    Well, good thing it’s 6m from the Pacific and not in the Pacific. 6m or 60m or 600m, better than in the Pacific.

    Any more pointlessly breathless headlines, folks?

    • Mark Garrett

      Good thing, huh? You just keep telling yourself that. Eventually you may even believe it! Hell, 88% of the world’s population have convinced themselves there’s an invisible man in the sky that knows all and controls all (but chooses not to prevent disasters like Fukushima, of course).

      • Masa Chekov

        Yes, I do firmly believe that it is better to be in water 6m from the Pacific, not contaminating the Pacific and the wildlife in the Pacific, than in the Pacific.

        You feel it would be better in the Pacific? Because that’s what you are saying.

      • gnirol

        That’s not what the gentleman was saying, or implying. What I believe he was saying is that we, the public, had no idea that the water so near the Pacific was so badly contaminated. If TEPCO didn’t know, why not? If they did know and withheld the information from the public until now, why? Can anyone be sure they actually first discovered this last Friday? The US Congress is trusted by 11% of the people there. I’d say they’re doing well by TEPCO standards. And if we did not know that it was as close as 6 meters, but thought it was 25 meters away, how do we know that 6 meters is the closest it is now or will be in a week? Even TEPCO, in this article, admits they have no idea if they are contaminating the sea. Now, the whole thing may be irrelevant to our safety. There is nothing in the article to indicate how far away the sea water around the plant is to the nearest place where food is being harvested from the ocean and how far that food might travel before it is harvested if it originated around the Fukushima plants. To be specific, I’d want to know if contaminated fish swim far enough away to be caught by fishermen in supposedly safe areas and brought to our supermarkets, impossible as it is to test every fish caught. I’m not saying they are. I have no idea, but I’d like to know. All this scientific jargon about becquerels sounds neat but it is not clear if this is just fascinating information for scientists or relevant to the safety of 128 million people on these islands. The govt says everything is hunky-dory (perhaps a new kind of mutant fish?) but then govts always say that, don’t they?

      • Masa Chekov

        “What I believe he was saying is that we, the public, had no idea that the water so near the Pacific was so badly contaminated.”

        He’s not saying that at all – he posts regularly with comments that just say essentially “Fukushima and TEPCO bad!” There’s never that much thought or content to them.

        Anyway I agree with what you are saying in your comment – we do need to know this information and it’s certainly not clear that we are being told the complete and honest truth about groundwater and ocean contamination. We just need to rely on the periodic sampling of ocean life caught in the area and independent measurements of the air and water quality.

        The main point of my original comment was the breathless reporting of “Only 6m from the ocean!” It’s context-free scaremongering. And you seem to agree with me that it is context-free.

      • Mark Garrett

        “He’s not saying that at all – he posts regularly with comments that just say essentially “Fukushima and TEPCO bad!” There’s never that much thought or content to them.”

        Really? You wanna go there??

        Just because folks don’t agree with you (which is the category most of your comments seem to fall into), doesn’t mean they’re wrong. To the contrary, I’m always open to differences of opinion provided they are based on good research and are presented in with an open mind. You consistently do neither.

        Allow me to clarify what I meant since you are wrong in your interpretation, although I’m sure you believe you know what I’m thinking better than I myself do.

        The article states (not infers) that high levels of radioactive substances were detected in a well just 6m from the ocean. You want to believe that the radioactivity ends at the well, 6m from the sea, but the fact is that in all likelihood it’s already in the water and has been for some time. The well is simply the test site. You see, a well is a deep hole where water from an underground source is collected. If there was a well dug 6m into the ocean there’s a very good chance it too would have the same readings, but due to the inherent problems associated with digging a freshwater well in the ocean, the closest they were able to test was 6m inland.

        I will certainly accept your contention that I believe TEPCO is bad, but I carry no ill feelings towards Fukushima. You have proven yourself through postings on a number of subjects to have a heavy slant to the right and like many conservatives you allow talking heads (i.e., politicians, lobbyists, etc.) to do all of your thinking for you which makes it impossible to have a civil discussion. The good news is that you are entertaining so, by all means, please continue.

      • Masa Chekov

        Well thank you! An actual comment instead of a snide comment like you tend to fire at me. It’s honestly appreciated.

        I even agree with most of what you say, except “You want to believe that the radioactivity ends at the well, 6m from the
        sea, but the fact is that in all likelihood it’s already in the water and has been for some time.”

        Of course I want to believe this. It’s most certainly a better proposition than thinking there is another leak of radioactive materials into the ocean. And while it is likely there are further leaks into the ocean it’s certainly not clear that there is, so there is no point to the breathless “ONLY 6M FROM THE OCEAN!” over-hyped headline. There’s enough trafficking in hyperbole going around in regards to Fukushima without mainstream news sources joining in.

        “You have proven yourself through postings on a number of subjects to have a heavy slant to the right”

        ME???? Right wing? Me? Seriously? I’m probably one of the most leftist persons you’ll run into. I’m just very pro-science and anti-ignorance. I think anyone who knows me at all would laugh long and hard about me being called a conservative.

      • Mark Garrett

        If you’re not right wing then I stand corrected. However, based on the tone of many of your posts, you seem to come across that way. Pro military (numerous posts supporting Japan rebuilding its military defense), pro government and pro big corporation (your outspoken defense of nuclear power and “head in the sand” position that the Fukushima disaster is media produced and that TEPCO, the government, and the corporate bigwigs who are trying to downplay it are to be trusted).

        I’m pretty certain you’re an intelligent guy who has a passion for knowledge. In seeking enlightenment it’s important to have an open mind as well. If you don’t think that Fukushima Daiichi is polluting the adjacent waters with highly radioactive substances, then you are either terribly naive or in denial.

        I agree that the JT has a habit of hyping stories to get pageviews. Heck, show me a media source that doesn’t!
        But there were no ALL CAPS in this particular headline and I think 6m is definitely a concern, especially given the the nature of the details as I explained them in my previous post. 6m is simply the site where the samples were taken. It’s not a great stretch to assume that where there is smoke there is fire. And this blaze continues to rage out of control. Please keep in mind that the information we are receiving is just what TEPCO and the government HAVE to share with us, not a comprehensive honest assessment.

        After hearing arguments from you and others regarding the viability of nuclear power I can even accept that, handled properly, it is a very clean and efficient energy source. Unfortunately the “handled properly” caveat is the major sticking point. I simply do not trust government or big corporations with bottom lines as their motivating force to ever keep our interests at the forefront. And this has been proven over and over again throughout history.

      • Masa Chekov

        “Pro military (numerous posts supporting Japan rebuilding its military defense)”

        I would never say I am pro-military but yeah, Japan’s gotta be concerned about its national defense. That’s just acknowledging the Realpolitik, though, right? Or is China not an actual threat?

        “pro government”

        That’s a leftist position.

        “pro big corporation”

        I am VERY strongly anti-corporate. I don’t know why you would think otherwise.

        “your outspoken defense of nuclear power and “head in the sand” position
        that the Fukushima disaster is media produced”

        I’ve never said any such thing. I’ve said it’s way overblown by people who know nothing about either physics or epidemiology. Which is demonstrably the case.

        And I am not necessarily a fan of nuclear power; I just believe that SAFE implementation of nuclear power is much better for the environment than other commercially viable options right now. Nuclear or coal? Nuclear or petroleum products? I’d rather have safely managed, transparently overseen nuclear than either. (Of course we don’t have safely managed or transparently overseen nuclear here, but that’s another story)

        “and that TEPCO, the government, and the corporate bigwigs who are trying to downplay it are to be trusted”

        I’ve never said that at all. I don’t trust Tepco to take the right reading from my meter each time they do let alone believe what they say about the status of Fukushima. But both incredulity and credulity just go so far, Mark. Just because Tepco lied about one thing it doesn’t mean they have lied about everything. Plenty of reliable, scientifically rigorous independent sources are checking on radiation levels and contamination. Go see what they have to say. That’s who you should be listening to.

        “If you don’t think that Fukushima Daiichi is polluting the adjacent waters with highly radioactive substances, then you are either terribly naive or in denial.”

        And when did I say there wasn’t contamination? You are putting words in my mouth. Go look at the empirical evidence. What does it say? If the sampling is reliably conducted and it shows contamination, there’s contamination. That’s called a “fact”. But don’t assume the outcome of that sampling either way because you believe it to be so.

        “I think 6m is definitely a concern”

        Of course it is. But the headline is fitting in with the context-free, make your assumptions anti-scientific and anti-nuclear agenda that is being pushed right now. Facts, pls.

        “And this blaze continues to rage out of control.”

        That doesn’t seem to be the case at all. The contamination seems to be localized, even if it is going into the ocean. Again, if that is not the case, where is the evidence? Not supposition – evidence?

        “I simply do not trust government or big corporations with bottom lines as their motivating force to ever keep our interests at the forefront.”

        I think injecting a profit motive into any public safety or heath issue without very rigorous and transparent oversight is dangerous. Clearly allowing companies with a profit motive to manage dangerous technologies with high potential for catastrophic accident with weak oversight is a poor idea. But do you ditch the technology or do you learn from the mistakes of the past and improve regulation and safety measures?

      • Starviking

        And the article is from that well-known scientific authority, Jiji Press.
        If the currently reported releases of strontium 90 and tritium were already in the water, in large amounts – we’d know – because it is easier to sample free-standing water than groundwater.

      • Starviking

        Has it occured to you that this is an evolving situation? That what TEPCO discover one week will have changed the next? That reporting that change is not a sign of falsehood, it is a sign of integrity.

        As for the contamination spreading, first it will be diluted, then it will either settle to the seafloor, or be ingested – in minute amounts, with the current contamination level – by marine animals.
        Oceanograophers and experts in sea life will raise concerns if anything hazardous looks to be occurring.

  • Starviking

    And yet again there is not enough information reported. The WHO guidance level for Tritium is 10,000 bq per litre, Strontium 90 is 10 bq per litre – but we are not told the amounts of Tritium or Sr90.

    Even so, if it were all Sr90, once it got to the Pacific it would soon be diluted down to insignificant levels pretty rapidly.