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Fukushima “leaks” tonnes of radiaoctive water again, “repaired with a plastic bag”

April 7, 2012

Part of the water purification system at the Fukushima Daiichi plant suffered another leak on Thursday, resulting in 12 tonnes of radioactive water with strontium-90 in it. This photo has been released of the system. Readers of the Japan Today newspapers reacted with dismay when they saw this picture. AP/Tepco

There have been numerous “leaks” or radioactive water leaving the plant at Fukushima. In this latest leak, it appears that about 12 tonnes of water have escaped into the environment yet again. It is not known whether the water was able to travel as far as the Pacific Ocean or if it was local.

Not only have massive amounts of highly radioactive water already “leaked” into the nearby environment and the sea over the past year, but this time it may include strontium at “16.7 becquerels of cesium per cu. centimeter.” The exact amount of radiation still under investigation, reports Kyodo (see here). Tepco, of course, is conducting the investigation and running the show, something that will not inspire confidence among those who recall their recent cover-ups and delay in admitting three melt-downs. This includes “admitting it had failed to inspect 33 pieces of equipment in its six reactors there” (see here). Same company. Same plant.

Add to it, “In 2002, Tepco admitted to falsifying safety reports which led to all 17 of its boiling-water reactors being shut down for inspection, including Fukushima.” And the list goes on. One might conclude that oversight by the government is a completely inadequate, and future disasters – like radioactive pollution in the ocean – are only a short step away.

“Tepco has about 100,000 tons of highly radioactive water accumulated in basements,” reports Bloomberg. So bad is the situation that, far from being “stable” like the government claims, “there will be similar leaks until Tepco improves equipment.” This is not opinion, but what a professor of nuclear engineering, Kazuhiko Kudo, is quoted as saying in the Bloomberg article (see here). This is to say nothing about the other March 26 “leak” of 120 tonnes discussed.

What do the public think?

The Japan Today newspaper published a photo which shows the condition of the water purification system. Visitors to the page expressed disbelief and scorn. Some left comments like, “Repaired with a plastic bag they must be joking. Bandaged up highly dangerous pipe, this pic tells the whole story so clearly.” Another said, “And they say a picture is worth a thousand words. This one is screaming incompetent fools……”

Yet another said, “Wonder if Tepco is going to put that pic on the top of their homepage with the caption: “Mission Accomplished”.  Another visitor had this to say, “Now, Im no Tepco apologist, the whole situation scares the heck out of me, however I was not expecting this level of incompetence and makeshift haphazard fixes. Im astounded. Its a bit of string, some tape and plastic bags!”

Tepco may be using more than yarn and tape, but even if it is the situation does not look comforting. Is this what the Japanese government and the IAEA consider “stable”?

In addition, there is the use of the term “leak,” which is questionable in itself. As Civil Journal reported earlier (see here), the amount of water that escapes has no bearing on the word leak. It is routinely employed for amounts no matter how large. Similar word games were used by the American media when discussing the BP oil “spill,” whereas many members of the public remarked that it was more like a flood or geyser going non-stop for months. These “leaks” at Fukushima are just the tip of the iceberg.
Staff report,
Civis Journal

Original comments were seen here. The Japan Today regularly removes comments that are critical of them or Japan; censorship is a problem many of the commentators have complained of.

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