Tuesday, November 12, 2013

TEPCo Postpones Rod Removal at Fukushima

After 150,000 signatures was presented to the United Nations asking for a global intervention into TEPCo frightening effort to remove fuel rod assemblies from Fukushima's Unit #4 elevated cooling pool, TEPCo announced it was postponing the harzardous removal project for "more tests". The US Energy Department will meet this week to brainstorm how to remove the heavy, extremely radioactive rod assemblies safely. The assemblies are clad in zirconium alloy which is highly flammable if exposed to air. Consequently the assemblies must be kept immersed in water while they are removed. Years of exposure to radiation have made the assemblies brittle. In short, the dangerous engineering task is one that has not been confronted before and isprobably beyond the resources of any one company or government. But as the October 25th 7.3 trembler in the region demonstrated it is a project that must be completed safely. Three reactor cores have been lost at Fukushima--literally melted through the basements and into the ground. At last report the cores did not reach China!

credit: Earthweek.com
But a lot or radioactivity is reaching the Pacific ocean and it is spreading. 400 tons of contaminated water enters the ocean every day. [photo]The damaged facility has been leaking radioactive water for two years and will continue to do so until TEPCo finds a way to contain it all. Alaskan
scientists are already concerned about the levels of contamination being found in fish and wildlife along the Pacific coast, and it could reach levels not seen since atmospheric testing of atomic weapons was ended in the 1960's. The official position is that radioactive fallout is not a problem since it will have dissipated once it reaches North America. But a US Atomic Energy Commission memo from 1955 says, "dissipation of radioactive fallout in ocean waters is not a gradual spreading out of the activity from the region with the highest concentration to uncontaminated regions, but in all probability the process results in scattered pockets and streams of higher radioactive materials in the Pacific.