Monday, September 15, 2014

Over 2 trillion becquerels of radioactive waste flowed from Fukushima plant into Pacific in just 10 months

Radioactive sludge accumulating in bay

In March 2011, the Fukushima plant suffered multiple meltdowns triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami. Since then, TEPCO has struggled to contain the flow of radioactive water away from the plant. Currently, radioactive water is known to be leaking out of reactor buildings and downstream into the ocean. It is also suspected to be leaking into the ground from the plant, and flowing underground to the ocean from there.

TEPCO estimates that this water has been carrying 4.8 billion becquerels of strontium-90 and 2 billion becquerels of cesium-137 every day, based on measurements taken near the water intakes for reactors 1 through 4. This means that in the 10 months from August to May, the plant emitted 1.46 trillion becquerels' worth of strontium-90 and 610 billion becquerels of cesium-137, totaling 2.07 trillion becquerels of radioactivity released into the ocean.

This astonishing amount of radioactivity is actually an improvement over the first two years following the disaster. Between May 2011 and August 2013, 10 trillion becquerels of strontium-90 and 20 trillion becquerels of cesium-137 flowed into the bay, for a total of 30 trillion becquerels. The improvement does not mark an improvement in TEPCO's containment methods, however, but is a result of the concentration of nuclear material at the plant decreasing over time.

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