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As the decade comes to an end, the future of nuclear power in the west remains in doubt. Almost nine years ago, a powerful underwater earthquake triggered a 15-meter tsunami that disabled the power supply and cooling at three of the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The accident caused the nuclear cores of all three damaged reactors to melt down, prompting the government to issue evacuation orders for all people living within a 30 kilometer radius of the damaged reactors, a group that included roughly 100,000 people.
And the evacuation zone:
Now, the Epoch Times reports that Japan’s Economy and Industry Ministry has proposed that TEPCO gradually release, or allow to evaporate, massive amounts of treated but still radioactive water being stored at the power plant. TEPCO, or the Tokyo Electric Power Co, is the owner of the Fukushima plant, and is also responsible for leading the clean-up of the damaged reactors.
But as regulators have stepped in to try and guide TEPCO as it struggles to dispose of all the contaminated water, one ministry has offered a proposal that is almost guaranteed to anger the fishermen who have resisted all of TEPCO’s other plans for dumping the contaminated water.
In its Dec. 23 proposal, the ministry suggested a “controlled release” of the contaminated water into the Pacific. Offering another option, the ministry also suggested allowing the water to evaporate, or a combination of the two methods.
The government is stepping up the pressure on TEPCO to do something as Fukushima’s ‘radioactive water crisis’ worsens. The problem is that TEPCO is running out of room to store the contaminated water.
In the latest sign that the area surrounding the destroyed Fukushima power plant is far from ready for the return of human inhabitants, locals and fishing groups are criticizing a plan to release water containing radioactive tritium from the ruined Fukushima power plant into the ocean, according to the Telegraph. Officials of Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the plant, say tritium poses little risk to human health and is quickly diluted by the ocean. But for some, the plan undoubtedly dredges up uncomfortable memories from 2013, when it was revealed that 300 tonnes of radioactive material had been leaking into the Pacific Ocean from the devastated plant every day. It was also revealed that TEPCO had known about the leaks, but had tried to cover them up.
TEPCO has been tasked with decommissioning the plant, and has been using robots to find and clean the melted nuclear fuel debris that is believed to be creating exorbitant levels of radiation in the area surrounding the plant. Though the company had to pull some of its robots out in February after radiation reached such high levels that not even machinery could function correctly, according to the International Business Times.
In March 2011, a magnitude 9 undersea megaquake triggered a massive tsunami that battered coastal North Eastern Japan, and triggered the level seven meltdowns of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, and the evacuation of 160,000 residents and the implementation of a 310 square mile uninhabitable zone. The quake was the worst to ever hit Japan, and it caused the worst nuclear disaster the world had seen since Ukraine’s Chernobyl meltdown in 1986. The three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant melted down when the tsunami caused a blackout at the plant that shut off its cooling systems.
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Having killed a robot by underestimating the level of radiation present in the Fukushima power plant, and after delaying its previous admission of a leak, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has quickly admitted that the nuclear plant has sprung another leak. As EFE reports, a small quantity of radioactive water has leaked from a storage tank with 70 microsieverts per hour of beta-ray-emitting radioactivity detected on the surface where the water had leaked, far exceeding the recommended maximum exposure of 0.11 microsieverts per hour. But apart from that it’s “contained.”
A total of 40 milliliters of water was discovered, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the plant’s operator, said on May 1. The company believes that the liquid leaked from the storage tank, Japan’s Asahi Shimbun paper reported Saturday. TEPCO stated that it placed bags of sand around the tank to prevent water from contaminating other areas.
The wet patch measuring 20 square centimeters was discovered by one worker at around 9:30am local time on May 1, it added. According to TEPCO, seventy millisieverts per hour of beta ray-emitting radioactivity were detected on the surface where the water had leaked.
The leak was detected on the same day as tests began in preparation for the construction of a 1.5-kilometer-long frozen soil wall around the reactor buildings. A project is aimed at preventing further leaks of radioactive water into the sea from the Fukishima plant.
In late April, the water transfer pumps at the Fukushima plant were shut down due to a power outage, leading to the leaking of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. It was preceded by a series of toxic leaks in February, which saw around 100 tons of highly radioactive water leaked from one the plant’s tanks.
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Good luck at The Olympics…