Huge leak of tritium feared in Fukushima


Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Friday that an estimated 20 trillion to 40 trillion becquerels of tritium from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant may have flowed into the Pacific Ocean since May 2011.

The utility reported the estimate Friday to the Nuclear Regulation Authority after recently admitting that toxic water from the emergency cooling system set up after the nuclear crisis began on March 11, 2011, is leaking into the sea.

Nevertheless, Tepco said the size of the release is roughly in the allowed range of 22 trillion becquerels a year but acknowledged it didn’t take place in a controlled manner. Tritium has a half-life of about 12 years.

Since it doesn’t know when the leak began, the utility has assumed the beginning was in May 2011, after it attempted to stop the toxic water from entering the ocean when it was discovered in April 2011.

The constant injection of water that is needed to keep the damaged reactors cool after the core meltdowns of March 2011 are generating a new radiation crisis at the plant that officials appear unable to solve without tainting the ocean and marine life.

  • Eric

    This just never gets better…

  • Enneahedron

    Incompetence seems to be a recurring theme in this never ending nightmare. Why hasn’t anyone been held criminally liable for this “accident?”Surely they must be aware of the biological effects of long term exposure to ionizing radiation.

    This is serious. On a molecular level, the radiation being released into the air and water from these reactors has the ability to knock electrons off of their atoms. Ingesting just a single radio-isotope increases your risk developing certain types of cancer. Prolonged exposure can cause genetic damage, the breaking of DNA chains, mutations.

    Japan needs to wake up. It’s clear to any objective observer that TEPCO is seemingly incapable of decommissioning the reactor by itself. They’re going to need international assistance to get this under control. Because from where I’m sitting, it looks to be very much OUT OF CONTROL.

    • Guest

      The U.S. and Japan have both stated that the technology to decommission this reactor, does not exist, and that it will take up to 20 years to develop methods to do such. Also, this “accident” was caused by an unprecedented natural catastrophe; the criminal liability should be the lies they used after the event.

      • Bernd Bausch

        They lied before (e.g. falsified maintenance documents). On the other hand, trials and verdicts may provide some satisfaction, but what must really change is the arrogant behaviour that is deeply rooted in the nuclear village, and the absence of an effective supervision.

  • Enneahedron

    “Since it doesn’t know when the leak began, the utility has assumed the beginning was in May 2011, after it attempted to stop the toxic water from entering the ocean when it was discovered in April 2011.”

    Unbelievable. Incompetence is the only word that comes to mind.

  • Denny Pollard

    The incompetence of the Japanese (TEPCO) to run and clean up nuclear waste is the reason Japan must close all of it’s nuke facilities. The government is also fully responsible in this matter in the lack of oversight and accountability. But this is really about the culture of not admitting they made a mistake as it would show weakness and effect the sale of nuclear powerplants around the world. So it’s all about the money once again just follow the money trail back to government.

  • blondein_tokyo

    And are we also to believe that TEPCO has suddenly decided to stop lying to the public? When they say it’s within the “allowed limits” who believes them? Every six months they backtrack and admit that they’d been lying all along. Seriously, when is the government going to take over TEPCO, call in outside aid from people who know what they are doing, and FIX this problem? Meanwhile, I’m not eating fish and not going swimming.

  • corposant

    So… What TEPCO could stop leaking is not tritium but information.

  • Ante035

    What is wrong with this company TEPCO? I cannot believe how the Japanese government does not take over the operations of securing and decommissioning the Fukushima station. Statements about not being able to reach certain areas of the facility to perform inspections shows how inept this company is of even lying. It is of course perfectly feasible to use remote controlled vehicles to go even within the smallest of areas, if this has not been done it borders on the criminal. Further statements have indicated that radioactive water being leaking into the ocean cannot be located – what utter nonsense. Even a child could work out ways to dye pools and basins with safe ink and place detectors at critical locations. The Japanese public deserves better after what they went through and it is a disgrace how this company TEPCO is allowed to continue like this. Get people of the right caliber to take over this critical operation and make sure there is no conflict of interest which there quite obviously is within the current structure.

  • Michael Williams

    TEPCO and its lies have irrevocably complicated the matter and it is undeniable immoral for them to have done so, but it sure seems like some people have a selective memory as to how it has come to this. This “accident” was caused by an unprecedented natural catastrophe; nearly 20,000 people are dead or missing because of it, and nearly 60,000 had to permanently evacuate the prefecture. So where are you sitting at that gives you such great insight to this disaster? Is it as close as my friends are? Because they had family that had to evacuate due to the nuclear disaster and they knew people that died in the tsunami.

    Surely, the Japanese are aware of the effects of radioactivity on people and the environment; they are the only nation that has been laid victim to atomic weapons. There is a very limited amount of things that can be done about this disaster, most of it being ineffective containment of the radioactive source, that is simply the nature of a nuclear meltdown. The U.S. and Japan have both stated that the technology to decommission this reactor, does not exist; and, even though their government projected a decommission date, there is no one that can make a legitimate claim that it will ever happen. Chernobyl is a case point; humanity does not have the technology to scrap molten nuclear fuel.

    Again, I will acknowledge that TEPCOs inability to handle this with any transparency and honesty is utterly immoral; that is and will always be, an undeniable fact.

    • Finally, someone who sees things from a balanced viewpoint instead of just “it’s all about the money.” Things are rarely as simple as they seem, despite people’s over reliance on the Hollywood favourite “Occam’s Razor”.

    • Mark Garrett

      No Fukushima Daiichi, no “accident”. Pretty simple really.

      • BBQ? No electricity, no accident either… My point is equally valid. Except many more than 20,000 would have died in the tsunami due to no communication/warning.

    • saidhamideh

      it’s not about decommissioning the plant. it’s about mitigating impact! with more transparency and less ineptitude on part of not just TEPCO but the Japanese government and other world powers, maybe we would as a human race better summon our resources and creativity to create the best plan to minimize the wastewater directly leaking into the Pacific Ocean.

  • That’s 200-400 emergency exit signs worth of tritium.

    • Nick

      Are you joking? That doesn’t sound like much.

      • Jude I⚡caяiot

        Nope. An exit sign in the 70s, when they had less regulation, had about 1,000,000 becquerels in it. A human being has 100/kg, so that is at least 7000 for even an average sized person. What is 34,000 in that case?

  • TeeJayH

    Playing devil’s advocate, who were the chuckleheads that decided to put nuclear powerplants on an island, on a known earthquake fault, right on the edge of the ocean – anyone??

    • HystErica


  • Nuclear is expensive when you include the storage and clean-up costs…

  • DeadMan

    Nope! Not willful criminal Incompetency . To even consider than many humans could be that, is just too terrible a thought for all of us as we are talking extinction events in this. Many of our leaders if haven’t noticed yet are are fully mentally deranged. But, Japan’s techno types are the worlds foremost expertise in these technologies and of which Japan has suffered the most directly from this technology Unsurpassed! But they are not able to handle this disaster. No one is. The Prime Criminality is that anyone ever used this technology at all for any reasons. Perhaps its arrogance that comes with being powerful over other human thinking that even all things will submit to you.

    Its a Life Boat mentality. now. What you going to do with an entire Major world population that is now radio active? The rest of us await our fate, too.
    Face it. The entire DNA of all Earth life cycle systems are screwed.
    If we ever needed a God, its now.

  • jansob1

    Awful as it seems, the people of Japan have collectively agreed that this is acceptable.
    Not just a lack of protest, but an active complicity with the criminals.
    They are reelecting the very people who allowed this to happen, and who are
    refusing to demand TEPCO bring in competent help. TEPCO is utterly unable or unwilling to
    deal with the problem (or, in true Japanese fashion, to even admit a
    problem exists). The Japanese govt. is quite literally doing nothing to
    get the problem handled. Nearly every single public statement TEPCO has made has
    proven to be not just wrong but deliberately misleading, and the worst
    that will ever happen is that execs will bow and apologize again. The
    govt refuses to do anything, and the people don’t demand it. We are
    seeing a slow national suicide underway. The entire region will eventually
    depopulate as the contamination spreads. As more and more fish become contaminated and are caught farther from the exclusion zone, all of Japan (barring those in Nagato-cho who can import anything they like) will be eating toxic fish…..and the Japanese simply do not care. They do not demand transparent food testing, they do not demand properly trained, dedicated competent experts to contain the disaster. They are content to throw away their children’s health and their nation’s future by relying on the assurances of those who have lied to them over and over. Japan has
    no future beyond that of a contaminated Detroit filled with abandoned
    old people….and they have chosen it.

    Shoganai. I simply cannot continue to care about a country that doesn’t care about itself.

    • Mark Garrett

      Pretty much sums it up right there.

  • upstairsforthinking

    The key words here are “since May 2011.”

  • Jeff Cairns

    With government being the visual facade of big business, it’s easy to understand why the government doesn’t take over from TEPCO and ‘deal’ with the matter.