Toxic drain water may have run into Pacific


Tokyo Electric Power Co. said it found radioactive substances in a drainage ditch that leads directly to the Pacific Ocean near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Substances radiating 220 becquerels per liter were found in samples taken Wednesday from a ditch about 150 meters from the sea. The beta rays given off by strontium, cesium and other substances were some 12 times greater than samples taken there Tuesday, Tepco said Thursday.

Workers have been trying to decontaminate an upstream ditch for several days, and Tepco suspects toxic water seeped through sandbags placed there.

The upstream ditch is near a water tank in the area known as H4 from which around 300 tons of highly toxic water was recently found to have leaked.

The latest finding could undermine Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s remarks during Tokyo’s final presentation to the International Olympic Committee in Buenos Aires last weekend that the radioactive leakage has been “completely confined,” before Tokyo won the 2020 Olympics.

Tepco said it has not taken measures to prevent the radioactive substances in the ditch from reaching the sea.

The utility maintains that no abnormalities have been detected in the radiation levels of the seawater, with its evaluation based on samples taken about 100 meters south of the drainage outlet.

The level of bone-cancer-linked strontium-90, which makes up about half of the beta ray-emitting substances detected in samples from the ditch, is believed beyond the threshold set by the government.

  • Mindless

    Japan bidded for 2020 Game: ignorantly irresponsible. IOC awarded 2020 Game to Tokyo: plain stupidity

    • Here’s what I don’t get.

      The United States pounds a testing ground in Nevada with nuclear weapons, including an extremely controversial series of 29 detonations in 1957 that releases more radiation into the atmosphere than any previous series. This is then followed by 37 detonations in 1958. Then in 1960 the Winter Olympics is held in Squaw Valley, California, some 350-400 kms as the crow flies from the testing ground, and as far as I can tell, nobody raises an eyebrow about the health of the athletes.

      Britain was conducting above ground tests on the Australian continent (admittedly quite a distance away from Melbourne) the same year as the 1956 Olympics. There was no concern about the athletes’ health.

      The first Chinese nuclear test set off at Lop Nor in 1964 was probably designed to spoil everyone’s fun at the Tokyo Olympics that were being staged at the time, but, perhaps reasonably given the distance, people did not think of the effect of radiation on the ceremonies. However, the United States had been testing its weapons willy nilly around and over the Pacific throughout the 1960s, Japanese people had been irradiated by these tests, there was concern in both the popular Japanese media and the popular culture (Godzilla!) about the effect of these tests on the health of Japanese, and yet no one seemed to care about the poor athletes then either.

      The 1979 Three Mile Island accident prompted widespread fears about radiation that were not assuaged for some time. The following year the Winter Olympics were held at Lake Placid, NY, some 350-400 kms away. Again, scant, if any, concern.

      No Olympics in 1986, but the sporting tournaments that took place in Europe were not cancelled due to fears, which were rife, of radiation in the immediate aftermath of Chernobyl. Moreover, the team that won the 1986 European (football) Cup Winners Cup was FC Dinamo Kiev, a rather ironic testimonial of the health of Ukrainian athletes.

      Moreover, there haven’t been any reports of Olympians suffering from the diseases one might associate with radiation sickness in any of these cases.

      And suddenly, when Japan wins an Olympics almost ten years out from a nuclear accident which, according to a major UN report, is “unlikely” to have any health risks for even those poor souls who lived near the plant during the disaster and even who worked within it, we are supposed to assume that all the athletes are going to sprout extra limbs, keel over, coughing up blood, or, in years to come, pay for the horrible decision to hold the Olympics in radiation central, Japan, with their health and/or their lives.

      How does that work again?

  • Michael Radcliffe

    220 becquerels per liter? Am I reading that correctly? You know that’s about the same amount of radiation as produced by 15 bananas? Somebody better make sure that the fruit section at my supermarket is ‘completely confined’! Maybe it’s a typo?

    • UncleB

      Nope! This is from: plutonium-244, with a “half-life” ; of 80.8 million years, plutonium-242, with a half-life of 373,300 years, and plutonium-239, with a half-life of 24,110 years. All of the remaining radioactive isotopes have half-lives that are less than 7,000 years, and other assorted ‘poisons” associated with nuclear fission: – none of which are found in bananas?

      • Nope! This is from Strontium and Cesium, with half-lives of about 30 years.

        Still not found in bananas, true, but before you savage someone else’s argument perhaps you should acquaint yourselves with the facts first?