PRODUCTION AND TREATMENT OF RADIOACTIVE WATER STILL MAJOR WORRY AT FUKUSHIMA
WATER DECONTAMINATION EFFORTS HALTED ON 18 Jun 2011. A filter expected to remove the radioactive element cesium for several weeks, exceeded capacity in just five hours. TEPCO spokesman Junichi Matsumoto said oil and sludge in the water contained more radiation than expected. Water filtration efforts were halted after the level of cesium in a filtering unit reached 4.7 millisieverts(mS) of radiation… The units generally need replacement at a level of 4 mS, and the company had expected the unit to last about a month….In a somber note he mentioned a plan to vent pressure from the No. 2 Nuke building to aid cooling, and stay on schedule with the first phase of the remediation process. There will be “limited impact” on the environment from this(venting) HMM!
URGENT PROBLEM IS: Radioactive water treatment is a critical step to remediation because there is NO OTHER PLACE to store the now more than 115,000 tons of contaminated cooling water/sludge; UNFORTUNATELY, the use of water for cooling the reactors and spent fuel ponds must continue indefinitely to prevent re-criticality (self-sustaining chain reaction) with consequential explosions and radioactivity release into the air; SO, unless the issue is resolved very soon, there will be no choice but to dump contaminated/radioactive water into the sea, or risk explosions.
FINGER POINTING IS RETURNING, BIG TIME! TEPCO has been criticized for its slow response to the accident, and for publishing erroneous radiation data, while the government-run Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) has been blamed for not ensuring the utility heeded warnings that a tsunami could overwhelm the plant’s defenses.
“DECONTAMINATION IS THE KEY” said Tadashi Narabayashi, a nuclear engineering professor at Hokkaido University. He added: “TEPCO should have had a very simple water decontamination system of its own…Then, it’s easy to fix or replace a troubled part by themselves.” (SEEMS HE IS NOT SATISFIED WITH AREVA AND KURION’s WATER FILTRATION EFFORTS). Truth is Japan has never had such equipment (simple or not), or a perceived need for it. ANOTHER FAILURE TO PREPARE FOR THE WORST!
PRIME MINISTER NAOTO KAN APPOINTED SPECIAL TEAM headed by Yotaro Hatamura, to head a 10 – member team to conduct an “impartial and multifaceted” investigation into what went wrong (at Fukushima Dai No. 1), and how to prevent a recurrence. Hatamura indicated his team will probe whether an earthquake-prone country such as Japan should build its energy policy around nuclear plants because of the inherent dangers, it’s a mistake to treat the (NUKE) industry as safe, he added that that plant manager Masao Yoshida, said he couldn’t imagine such a huge tsunami. “From our discussions, I gathered that no one at the plant could imagine that such a tsunami would occur,” SEE THERE, THERE WAS NO NEED TO PREPARE FOR THE WORST! – But first, there was the 9.0 earthquake…No one saw that coming either.
FUKUSHIMA PREFECTURE Governor Yuhei Sato, reiterated his opposition to restarting TEPCO’s nuclear reactors in his Prefecture. Sato said he will respect, and adhere to, the denuclearization outline of a Prefecture Committee on Reconstruction. Meanwhile, Municipal authorities in Fukushima City have expanded radiation monitoring to 1,045 spots, up from 100 earlier. Other important people see things differently…One might say there exists a “conflict of interest”.
TRADE MINISTER IS WORRIED ABOUT ELECTRICITY SHORTAGE Even though surveys now indicate that 80% of the people in Japan oppose a restart of Nukes, Trade Minister Banri Kaieda said on 18 Jun 2011 that he may let utilities restart nuclear generators that had been shut-down for routine maintenance. He expressed concern for electrical shortages this summer, when he said: “There are negatives to suspending all nuclear power.”
ON A GOOD NOTE, COMPENSATION IS COMING TO MANY. TEPCO said they are preparing to compensate victims of the disaster, including 50,000 households displaced because of radiation leaks. On 14 Jun 2011 the Japanese government approved disaster compensation legislature to help TEPCO pay reparations. The nation’s largest banks and insurers, including Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. and Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co., will provide short-term operating funds to Tokyo Electric, according to local media reports. Japan’s government is discussing plans for a fund of several hundred billion yen to finance reconstruction, and support families and companies in the disaster-hit prefectures of Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate.
It is interesting to contemplate: IF I WERE A DISPLACED PERSON, what would I do with the compensation money? One supposes it would depend on the amount of compensation; However, there are so many considerations, that it is best to to consider them after we hear some opinions from those receiving the compensation. The other difficulty lies in the “compensation” criteria. We still remember the “Deep Horizon” runaway gusher in the gulf of Mexico. That compensation debacle is still going on.
PARTING THOUGHT: Popular saying: “when you’re up to your ass in alligators, it is hard to remember that your original intention was to drain the swamp”. Just ask TEPCO!
Thanks to San Francisco Chronicle, 19 Jun 2011.