by: Jonathan Benson
Some of the highest levels of ionizing radiation yet detected since the disaster first occurred were recently recorded at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility in Japan, according to shocking new reports. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which runs the crippled nuclear plant, says levels of radioactive cesium in a water well were 9,000 percent higher on July 8, 2013, than they were three days earlier, and nobody knows why this is the case.
The Asahi Shimbun reports that TEPCO observed the spike after testing water in a well on the seaward side of Fukushima’s No. 2 reactor. According to readings taken, radioactive cesium levels registered at an astounding 27,000 becquerels per liter (Bq/l), which is the highest ever since March 11, 2011, when the tsunami and earthquake first struck the plant. At this point, the cause of the spike is still unknown.
“It is unclear whether the radioactive water is leaking into the sea,” said a TEPCO official, following the discovery. “After gathering needed data, we will conduct analyses.”
As you may recall, radioactive water from the No. 2 well was found to have been leaking about a month after the disaster struck in April 2011. At that time, about 9,000 Bq/l of cesium-134 and 18,000 Bq/l of cesium-137 were detected in water samples. These amounts are 150 and 200 times higher, respectively, than the maximum level legally permitted.
At the same time, levels of other harmful forms of radiation, including strontium, have remained oddly consistent, which has many officials scratching their heads. According to the most recent data, radioactive strontium levels remained mostly steady around 890,000 Bq/l both before and after the cesium spike.
“We do not know why only cesium levels have risen,” added the TEPCO official.
Radioactive tritium levels are also spiking dramatically, say officials
Besides cesium, radioactive tritium has also been detected in significantly higher amounts near the No. 2 well. According to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), tritium levels in groundwater near the reactor have jumped 17-fold since December, and are continuing to rise with each passing day. Since May, tritium levels have increased a staggering 20 percent.
“[T]he tritium level that TEPCO measured on July 5 in one of its coastal monitoring wells near reactor No. 2 is ten times above Japan’s safety standard of 60,000 becquerels per liter, and rising,” writes Phred Dvorak for the WSJ. “That’s the highest such level the company has recorded since the incident.”
What this all suggests, of course, is that the Fukushima disaster is far from over, and may only be in the early stages of unleashing massive environmental destruction. Despite the fact that more than two years have passed since the disaster’s onset, the situation appears to be intensifying with no end in sight, which could lead to much more serious problems in the future.
Meanwhile, as much as 93 billion becquerels of radioactive substances are believed to still be pouring into the Pacific Ocean every single day as a result of the Fukushima disaster. Reports from back in March indicate that, since the disaster, a total of 16.1 trillion becquerels of just cesium-137 are believed to have leaked into seawater.
“Once again, TEPCO release the bad news in a drip, drip, drip mode,” wrote one commenter on an ENENews.com report on the issue. “These destroyed nuclear reactors are going to pop and sputter for thousands of years to come. Changes in the configuration of residual melted fuel remaining in and around the plants will create ongoing criticalities, with changing cooling water and groundwater flows.”
Sources for this article include: