Tritium up tenfold in Fukushima groundwater after Typhoon Phanfone


The radioactive water woes at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant got worse over the weekend after the tritium concentration in a groundwater sample surged more than tenfold this month.

A spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Saturday that heavy rain caused by Typhoon Phanfone probably affected the groundwater after the storm whipped through Japan last week.

Some 150,000 becquerels of tritium per liter were measured in a groundwater sample taken Thursday from a well east of the No. 2 reactor. The figure is a record for the well and over 10 times the level measured the previous week.

In addition, materials that emit beta rays, such as strontium-90, which causes bone cancer, also shattered records with a reading of 1.2 million becquerels, the utility said of the sample.

The well is close to the plant’s port in the Pacific.

The water crisis could get worse as the nation braces for Typhoon Vongfong this week. Although downgraded from supertyphoon status, the storm was still packing winds of up to 180 kph and on course to hit Kyushu by Monday.

The Meteorological Agency said it could reach Tokyo on Tuesday before gradually losing strength as it races north toward Tohoku.

The storm dumped heavy rain on Okinawa, and at least 35 people have been reported injured in both Okinawa and Kyushu, where authorities told 150,000 people to evacuate as the typhoon toppled trees, flooded streets and cut power to more than 60,000 homes.

Tepco also revealed that, at a separate well also east of the No. 2 reactor, a groundwater sample was giving off a record 2.1 million becquerels of a beta ray-emitting substance, nearly double the level from a week earlier.

The cesium activity in the sample was 70 percent higher at 68,000 becquerels.

Tepco has been periodically measuring the concentration of radioactive materials in groundwater at 34 points east of the reactors 1 through 4.

Readings hit record highs at three points after the heavy rain caused by the typhoon, but the utility said it does not know why.

  • Chandrakant Kulkarni

    Many months before, Tepco had published their so-called ‘technical’ diagram showing: How underground water currents emanating from hilly upstream zone ‘could be tapped’ by means of digging open wells – and how that water could be ‘safely’ pumped to the Sea without getting contaminated by the radioactive pollution around the reactors ..etc.
    Well, I had pointed out the futility of such a ‘schematic plan’ right at that time.

    • Starviking

      But, could it be that your point has nothing to do with the matter at hand: the washing of tritium into the wells by typhoon rain?

  • rickokona

    The high Strontium 90 levels should sound an alarm. The core is not contained and moving quite freely with the rain water. Let there be no illusion of control of this mess. It further illustrates the Faustian Bargain of this technology and will demand that generations yet born will inherit this travesty.

  • Cain Abel

    Nuclear energy is safe and cheap.
    There has been no victims from radiations and there won’t be any.

    • Starviking

      Relatively speaking.

    • peakchoicedotorg

      You should volunteer your services to help with the cleanup of the meltdowns. They need help finding out what happened to the cores.

      • Cain Abel

        No they don’t need help.
        What happened is obvious: they melted, period.

  • Enkidu

    Another intentionally misleading headline from the Japan Times.

    Tritium up tenfold in Fukushima groundwater after Typhoon Phanfone

    Actually, tritium was only up tenfold at one of the many monitoring points (MW 1-17). Meanwhile, on the same day the tritium measurement at MW 1-12 was down 95% from its record high. Trying to make generalizations about the plant’s “groundwater” for purposes of your headline based on one reading at one well is ridiculous.

    • Starviking

      Not quite reaching the Asahi-level of deception, but getting there.

  • alvin

    japan I feel for you soon you have no water to drink not good