Friday, April 1, 2011


Recently there has been extensive discussion of radioactive water at Fukushima Dai-ichi.  Much of that water sprayed on the reactors and cooling pools either leaked out, splashed out or evaporated then re-condensed in the cold air and pooled on the floor, and in drainage channels between the buildings, and elsewhere. Three workers were hospitalized after stepping into highly radioactive water.

This water then overflowed and somehow drained out into the ocean where it is being monitored, at least sporadically.   Ocean level radiation reports have gone something like this:

"100 times legal limit today"

TEPCO response: nothing to worry about at this level since ocean will disperse it.
My response: "OK, 100x isn't so bad but higher levels would be worse right?"

Next day:  "500 times legal limit".  TEMPO response: nothing to worry about at this level

Next day: "1000 times legal limit".      Ditto.

You get the idea...its up to thousands of times the legal limit, but there's never any worry, since the ocean will always disperse.   This made me surprised to read in one article that "dumping all the radioactive water that has built up into the Pacific is not an option".   Well, why not?  It seems like, according to TEPCO, whatever amount is dumped, the ocean will always disperse it.

I wanted to find out more about the water and saw an excellent graphic on the Asahi news site, but in Japanese.  Fortunately my friend in Tohoku, Joey Fedrow, was able to translate, and I present these two graphics here, with his translation.  

Flow of Irradiated Water
Cross Section View of Water Storage

All this radioactive water accidentally drained into the Pacific (and any intentionally dumped) is supposedly no harm because fishing is prohibited w/in 20 km of the site (has this always been the case or is this a new closure?) , quoth TEPCO.   The best question I heard asked is: how is TEPCO going to ensure that fish in the irradiated water don't swim elsewhere, eg to fishing areas?   I'd like to know how far a typical seafish swims. 

In other news, TEPCO's stock is now trading at its lowest levels in 47 years, causing some to fear that a government takeover/bailout (like the one US banks got) will be needed.   The  80% loss from a level of 2000 to 400 yen per share means that the company's total value (or  "market cap.") has collapsed by 10's of billions of US$    I don't have any  insights into the fiscal implications of TEPCO's stock dropping down to 400 yen.  All I can say is:  "there's nothing to worry about at this level."


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