Outage hits pumps at Fukushima plant; toxic water leaks into ocean


Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Tuesday reported that a power outage has shut down all eight water transfer pumps at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station and that radioactive water is again leaking into the Pacific Ocean.

The pumps are being used to pump tainted water from a drainage channel to another channel leading to a fence-enclosed artificial bay facing the station. The beleaguered utility said it was checking into what happened and how much water had leaked.

The pumping had begun last Friday, in response to a finding in late February that highly radioactive water in the channel was reaching the ocean. They were confirmed to be working Monday afternoon but found stopped at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday.

The utility said earlier this year that water samples from the drainage channel last May contained concentrations of radioactive materials that surpassed the legal limit.

  • yellowroz

    Can someone provide a link to technical material on how various materials, e.g. the metals used in pumps and tanks, respond to radioactive water? Because this was an industrial accident, it is a mix of unknown isotopes in unknown states of decay (not industrial process water that can be somewhat understood).

    The ALPS have never worked, the robots stalled. I know some of the early tanks became brittle because of radioactivity; has that been rectified with different material and welding?

    I’m not one to even care about whose to blame, I just want to know to what extent the Pacific is becoming contaminated. I want to feel like there’s some grownups in charge. The detection on North America’s West Coast is just the leading edge.

    • Starviking

      I don’t think the contamination levels in the drainage channel would be high enough to embrittle pumps. That level of damage is seen in reactors after decades of use, and is due to neutron radiation – which is large in a reactor. The radioisotopes in the drainage channel will not be big neutron emitters.

      On the subject of ALPS – it has worked, and is working. I can see why you have that opinion though – the media only reports problems, not successes.

      I have heard nothing about tanks becoming brittle due to radiation – do you have a reference?

      As for contamination on the West Coast of America, Marine Chemist has good info on Daily Kos. Also, the drainage channel has apparently been leaking for some time, with no effect on offshore readings. That would indicated the problem is in no way major.

      • atomikrabbit

        Sr-90, Cs-137 and -134, and H3 (tritium) are the major isotopes present. None of them decay by neutron emission – they are primarily beta (nucleus-sourced electron) emitters, which does not produce metal embrittlement. The few fission products, like Br-87, which have a neutron decay scheme, were all gone within 10 minutes of subcriticality.

        Although the presence of these materials produces radiation readings far above background because of their easy detectability, their actual chemical concentration is in parts per million or less.

      • Starviking


    • Mahhn

      check marine life reports off of CA if you want to know how bad the contamination is.

      • Mike O’Brien

        That would be the report that marine life is getting along just the same as it was before Fukushima, right?

        Or do you mean the lying fear mongering drivel that some people seem to lap up?

      • Mahhn

        ohh, since you are being belittling I am suddenly going to change my mind and think you must be right. All the radiation leaking is good for the world and improving life. yeah, I get it now, you must be right.

      • ddpalmer

        Did I say it was good?

        I am right because I am repeating what the scientists who are actually studying the marine life off California say. While you are implying that marine life is in massive distress, despite what the reality is.

        My aim was not to change your mind, as I expect that is impossible due to your love of fear mongering and lack of intellect. My aim was to belittle your inane Chicken Little fantasy.

      • Mahhn

        I’ve seen reports otherwise. But when someone starts off by being belittling instead of explaining, the only think I think of that person is they drink the cool-aid of one side or the other and don’t pay attention to anything that opposes their desired opinion. Killer whales are having a very bad 3 years. Star fish have been having a hard time. I’m sure if it’s not on Fox or CNN you dont’ think it’s real. Reality moves on no matter what anyone thinks. And if your opinion is that Fukashima isn’t hurting anything, well, that’s your opinion. None of our Opinions matter. BTW you show your personality with your tone – I hope if you have children you talk to them better than you talk to strangers, but I doubt it.

      • Mike O’Brien

        ” how bad the contamination is.”
        Might want to cut back on your own Kool-Aid consuption and pay attention to things that oppose your desired opinion.
        Yeah Killer whales are having issues because a change in the upwhelling of nutrients that support the base of their food chain has shifted like has happened numerous times and has nothing to do with contamination. The same nutrient issue is what is effecting the starfish.
        Please stop with the BS strawmen. Where have I said ‘Fukashima isn’t hurting anything

      • Mahhn

        Now you’re talking out your ass. The star fish population having problems are thousand of miles from where the whales are breading. Go watch some for Faux news. Everything is fine in the world, pollution has no effect on the world. Radiation is good for you. stfu.

      • Mike O’Brien

        “Everything is fine in the world”

        I never said that.

        “pollution has no effect on the world”

        I never said that either.

        “Radiation is good for you”

        I never said that either. Although actually there is scientific evidence that at low levels it is.

        “The star fish population having problems are thousand of miles from where the whales are breading.”

        Mmmm! Breaded whale sounds good! Go read some real science and stop listening to the voices in your head. Currents and upwellings cover thousands of miles.

        Why don’t you try and stop making a fool of yourself by getting some actual facts and studying them long enough to be able to intelligently discuss them?

    • greenthinker2012

      Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute has some great articles on the effects of Fukushima on the oceans.
      It is scientifically accurate information.
      The reports show no effect on the oceans.
      The extra radioactivity adds 1/100,000ths to the natural background radiation levels.

      Please avoid the fear mongering sites like “enenews” they are worse than useless and cause real harm in the world by stressing people needlessly.

    • Mike O’Brien


      The mix of isotopes is not unknown, just like the state of decay isn’t ‘unknown’ (whatever you even mean by that statement).

      The robots didn’t stall. One got stuck in the debris, as the video from the second showed. And the second ones camera failed after DAYS of radiation (much more time than it was designed for) and without the camera it was impossible to manuever it any more. And of course, due to the contamiantion in the reactor room, the robots where never meant to leave the room.

  • ( _ / )

  • Frank Thornton

    Everything is under control…

  • Conrad Brean

    Do you remember the VERY expensive and FULL proof plan to contain Fukushima in an ICE WALL which couldn’t be kept cold. Funny how the memory of corporate media Japan is so fickle….

    • Starviking

      I remember people getting confused by the “ice wall” in the soil – to stop water getting into the reactor buildings – and the “ice plugs” in drainage trenches.

      Funny how the memory of people is so fickle….

  • Richard Solomon

    How many more of these problems with the ‘beleaguered’ TEPCO will there have to be before PM Abe recognizes that his claim that ‘everything is under control’ was false then and is absurd now?!? As some people say, ‘The Nile is the longest river in the world.’. Abe is clearly floating on that river!

  • Starviking

    This is the key part of the article:

    The pumping had begun last Friday, in response to a finding in late February that highly radioactive water in the channel was reaching the ocean.

    Given that the water has been leaking for a while, but has had no effect on the offshore contamination level, I think we can regard this as a very, very minor issue.

  • sycamoron

    Yes, there is a problem with predicting material embrittlement. It is not just the metals, it is the materials that most people don’t even associate with being radioactive that could cause embrittlement. For instance, most hydrogen is characterized as belonging to three isotopes. However, in this instance, up to 7 isotopes may exist and exist only tiny portions of a second. But, long enough to mess up a bond in other materials. Most oxygen isotopes are stable in less than a day. But, in a reactor or the “bonus pool” beneath it, more can be replenished. Alpha emitters can also cause spalling.

    • Starviking

      I think there may be some confusion with the term “spalling”. It occurs when some process breaks a chunk off the source material.

      The term has been borrowed by particle physics to refer to the neutrons emitted by a uranium target hit by a stream of atoms.

    • Mike O’Brien

      Can you explain just how the necessary conditions to produce any isotope of Hydrogen beyond trtium exist at Fukushima, currently or even during the meltdown?

      Scientists needed millions of dollars in equipment to produce unimaginably small amounts of H-4, H-5, H-6 and H-7. Yet somehow a shut down reactor is producing them with wild abandon?

      • atomikrabbit

        Yes. There may be some minute production of hydrogen due to gamma radiolysis of the cooling water in direct contact with the core, and there were also small amounts of tritium present from when the reactor was operating. Tritium is a very weak beta emitter, and embrittlement is usually associated with high neutron fluxes, which haven’t been present since 3/11/11. I don’t know where this “spalling” would come from, nor why it would be a concern – the systems are obviously already depressurized.

  • Starviking

    Gosh, you should read your own quote:

    “It now plans to siphon tainted water out of underground trenches where it has accumulated and to fill those trenches with cement instead.

    • Conrad Brean

      The article states walls to prevent water from reaching the ocean. That suggests leaking from inside to outside. How does the filling of the trenches with cement have any relevance with the migratory flow of water from within breached containers out into the ocean.

      • Starviking

        The ice wall in the soil was to prevent water entering the buildings. Freezing the trenches was part of an attempt to remove the contaminated water there – according to the reports. I guess with the concrete they might have changed plans.

        By the way, sorry for being snippy earlier. If you don’t keep your eye firmly on the ball with media reporting on the issue, it is easy to get led astray.

  • Micheal Justin

    Fukushima is a major disaster that has been swept under the rug because of financial interests. Japan owns so much of the media. But you can’t hide things forever, quite literally the truth is leaking slowly into the environment.

    • greenthinker2012

      Yes leaking slowly and without consequence.
      See my post above where I show the extra radiation added to the oceans is an extra 1/100,000ths compared to the natural background radiation.

  • Mic Justin

    Serious question here: Does the radioactive waste ever dissipate or disperse entirely in the ocean due to its size?

    • greenthinker2012

      Yes the dilution is enormous. The total mass released of the main isotopes of concern from Fukushima has been approximately:

      I-131 – 43 grams
      Cs-137 – 4 kilograms

      or expressed as “specific activity”:

      Note.. (the “E” in the numbers below stands for “exponent” and refers to the number of zeroes to add to the number shown. e.g. 2.0 E17 is a 2 followed by 17 zeroes)

      Total amounts of 131-I and 137-Cs discharged are estimated to be approximately 2.0 E17 and 1.3 E16 Bq, respectively. (5.4 E6 and 3.5 E5 Curies)

      The oceans contain the following volumes of water:

      Pacific = 6.549 E17 m3
      Atlantic = 3.095 E17 m3
      Total = 1.3 E18 m3

      And the following natural amounts of radiation

      Uranium approx 100 billion tonnes
      Pottassium 40 3.8 E11 Curies (14000 EBq)

      So you can see there is A LOT of water to dilute the isotopes and the extra radioactivity is dwarfed by the naturally occurring radioactivity.

      The extra from Fukushima adds only 1/100,000 ths to the total.

      • Mike Carey

        Isn’t it true that the world’s rivers are continually adding naturally radioactive elements to the oceans due to the erosion of stone from mountains that contain those naturally radioactive elements?

      • greenthinker2012

        Indeed. It has been a while since I looked up how many millions of tonnes per year are added this way. It dwarfs Fukushima. But of course the crazies will claim it is “natural” whereas Fukushima is “artificial”.
        (giant eye roll)

  • GBR48

    As the MH370 search has highlighted, the Pacific Ocean is very, very large. Dumping radioactive waste into the deepest, most remote parts of the ocean is not a good thing, but it may be one of the least pernicious places to put it, away from proximity to people in a populated nation subject to earthquakes. Given how long it will remain a problem, burying it anywhere on land is going to cause problems at some point in the future.

    An enormous amount of waste is already, shamefully and shamelessly, dumped into the oceans on a regular basis and has been for centuries, including the radioactivity from numerous A-bomb tests. Humanity has been increasing the general level of background radiation in the air and in water for half a century. It would be good to stop doing that in pointless weapons testing and reserve any further latent capacity for emergencies.

    It isn’t a good thing to do, but it may be the least worst thing to do with it if there are no other options.

    It is a little strange that TEPCO are spending money on shape-changing robots but apparently failed to get any form of back-up generator or UPS system in place, or even monitor the pumps 24/7. I guess robots are cool and back-up generators aren’t, but one of the annoying things about nuclear power plants is that when you turn them on, you can’t just turn them off, nor the kit that keeps them from going bang. Always a bit of a problem in a country that has so many quakes.

    A facility as damaged as Fukushima cannot be cleaned up without leaks and without finding somewhere better to dump the radioactive material that it will generate throughout decommissioning. There is no clean solution, as this is real life and not a Hollywood movie. It’s time to be practical, because once you’ve made a mess like this, it is too late to be good.

  • greenthinker2012

    The water stored in the tanks at Fukushima is LESS radioactive than the natural seawater in the oceans.
    The “Waste” soil and debris in the bags is less radioactive than the natural soil and rocks in many parts of the world where people live healthy lives.

    They should just discharge the water into the ocean except that people don’t understand radiation and thus are irrationally scared.
    The bags of soil likewise pose no hazard and after a few decades will pose even less hazard.
    Again they should just bury it.
    Frankly I am more concerned about the plastic getting into the ocean.

    • BonzoDog1


      • greenthinker2012

        Try using more words.
        What fact specifically is hogwash?
        Everything I wrote is factual and can be verified.

      • Southernfink

        Does not need a lot of words to describe a fraud.

      • greenthinker2012

        O.K….that is easy then…you are a fraud.

      • Mike O’Brien

        But it does need facts.

      • Mike O’Brien

        Great response to a comment containing facts.
        Why don’t you go back to washing your hogs and leave the important discussions to the adults?

    • Southernfink

      You’re simply not making any sense.

      Millions of tones of radioactive waste is sitting in plastic bags near the Ocean…FACT

      Your fallacious response is that the natural level of radiation found in the Ocean is well below that of anything found at Fukushima ?

      WTF is wrong with you ?

      You’ve come close to convincing me that you’re nothing but a shill for the nuclear industry.

      • greenthinker2012

        You need to improve your reading skills. Read my comment again and try to understand it.

        Also look up what the background radiation levels are in various parts of the world like Denver Colorado, Ramsar Iran, Guarapari Brazil.

        Look up what the regulatory levels are in Japan with respect to those bags of solid, twigs, and leaves.

  • greenthinker2012

    enenews is a fear mongering junk science website.
    It is no better than the lurid tabloid newspapers you find at your grocery store checkout.

    • Southernfink

      There are several out right fallacies in your reply.

      One – your attacking the source, you’re not providing any valid information whatsoever – the truth is that you are employing the tactics of a fear monger as opposed to providing any valid and verifiable information.

      Second – you absolutely do not have a clue where I might be shopping or if there are any magazines on display – you do not know me.

      • greenthinker2012

        Yes, I am attacking the source. When someone is a habitual liar it is not fallacious to attack them for it.

        Funny that you are opposed to me attacking “the source” but you then end your comment with an ad-hominum attack.

      • Mike O’Brien

        BTW – You’re on the list of ignorant fools

  • sycamoron

    I was referring to the calving and lost of integrity of the vessels like the spalling that deteriorated the first Chernobyl sarcophagus from alpha particles transitioning to helium on the surface.

    • Starviking

      Thanks. Do you have a reference for that?

      By the way, it’s common to reply directly to the comment, not make a new post. That way the original commenter gets an update message.

      • sycamoron

        I read it so long ago that I am having problems finding it. I find many articles that mention the dust. But, none on the spalling that creates the dust

  • Al

    Most of us are not scientists and can only rely on reading the opinions of others in the matter and It is good to have both perspectives on the subject. The future will tell us how bad the pacific is being contaminated and it is sad to be reading about the “discovery” of those leaks year after year. Sites like Enenews are often fear-mongering by stating the worst case/anti-nuclear scenarios and arguments (although they are precious and useful to have the full picture) but I must say that the laborious efforts of the pro-nuclear camp to downplay events and to complacently act like everything is fully under control is not convincing and risible. A French historian famously said the when you torture numbers, you are able to make them confess to whatever you want. The same thought can be applied to nuclear energy pros and cons. We can only rely on common sense here more than anything but surely, even if there isn’t any viable alternative to nuclear energy in the world yet, the people that want to restart the plants in the seismic Japan are mad criminals.

    • Starviking

      ENEnews is not only fear-mongering, but they twist the truth. Their summaries often have multiple cases of elipses (…) being used, and if the reader takes the time to go to the sources used in the summary – lo and behold, it says the opposite of the summary!

      What of those who torture words?

      As for relying on common sense, I prefer science. If that makes me a mad criminal in your mind, so be it.

      • Al

        Fair enough, I also rely on science,) But you have not conclusively demonstrated with your scientific argumentation that Fukushima was controlled nor contained. The record will show that you prefer going on with an unhedgeable risk by using nuclear energy in seismic Japan while the very unforeseen emergency issues caused by the scientific previous standard of risk assessment is not solved yet. I am fine with your position but it is good that both are expressed !

  • Starviking

    That graphic is from 2013.

    Page 5 of this report shows the ALPS system working from late 2014 to the current date of the report (Blue Bars on rightmost graph).


    English Version (Graph on page 6):


    The geology link states that there is some conflict on the matter of water-permeability at Dai-Ichi.

  • Starviking

    Thanks for confirming my statement.

  • Southernfink

    What complete and utter rubbish !

    Your links simply do not support your theory.

    Radiation at Fukushima is far above the level that humans can safely tolerate – However feel free to become part of the Fukushima cleanup crew.

    I somehow doubt that you will.

    Micheal Mann is a well known shill for the nuclear industry

    Look it up.

    • greenthinker2012

      You’re attacking the source, you’re not providing any valid information whatsoever – the truth is that you are employing the tactics of a fear monger as opposed to providing any valid and verifiable information.

      • Mike O’Brien

        Bonus points for greenthinker2012.
        Thanks for attempting to fight the fear mongering game of whack-a-mole.

      • greenthinker2012

        Thanks for your comment.
        The hard part is that it is super easy for the fear mongers to just make up any old BS while those who are honest are constrained by facts and truth which takes much more work.

    • Michael Mann

      If well known shill you mean someone with their own opinion based on over 35 years experience, who is not payed in any way shape or form to comment, then you have re-defined the word “shill”. Please look it up, I post under my own real name, Mr. Southernfink sounds like an alias, a shill from the anti-nuclear industry, you could look that up, any idiot with a computer and an alias can post whatever BS they want , someone who uses their own name has a little more motivation to post accurate information. People who will believe anti-nuclear activists who are paid based on how much fear they promote and won’t believe anyone with real experience seem to have a serious cognitive problem.

  • Starviking

    Leslie Corrice’s April 23rd update reports that the pumping resumed at 8pm on Tuesday the 21st.

    My question is, why are no news sites reporting this?

    Do they think it might take the sting out of their fear-hyping stories?

  • Starviking

    There’s plenty more on the TEPCO site.

  • Starviking

    Actually, this is a very important link. The ‘New’ documentary, which is actually about 3 years old and aired on the German ARTE channel, shows how mendacious some anti-nuclear activists can be.

    Around the 42-43 minute mark there is an interview with Professer Richard Wakeford about leukemia at Seascale.

    But first, an aside: there are two theories about leukemia clusters around some nuclear installations.

    1) it’s caused by a virus which spreads when different populations mix.
    2) it’s caused by radiation.

    However, when you watch the interview with Prof. Wakeford he seems to say

    1) it’s either caused by a virus, or…
    2) it’s caused by population mixing.

    This is not something that even an interested amateur in epideology would say. Why did Prof Wakefield say it? The answer is…

    He didn’t. Look at 43:19 on the ‘scientific’ documentary. A very visible edit where the director twisted whatever Prof. Wakeford said into what the documentary needed…

  • yellowroz

    Enkidu, I would, truly, be thrilled to know serious engineers with knowledge in groundwater-seawater interface were on the job.

    Your link has tons of excellent graphics, but is in Japanese. I tried changing the ‘j’ to an ‘e’ to load an English version, but no luck – can you provide one?

    • Enkidu

      Hi Yellowroz, Unfortunately, I don’t think there is an English version (yet). If anything like this does get translated, I’ll post it back here for you.

  • atomikrabbit

    His ambulance-chasing business in decline, Palm City FL lawyer Grant Grand had a brainstorm in March 2011 – cash in on a Fukushima fearmongering website run out of his home office.

    With legions of scientifically-illiterate radiophobes to cater to, the rest, as they say, is history.
    Google his name, and follow the trail of discovery.