bucking for a Pulitzer for being 2.4 years late in reporting what has been, according to the TEPCO live cam, a regular event.
This situation reflects a general inability of world nuclear industry to impliment the technical fixes the internal reports of regulators actually demanded from the late 1960s. The need for an urgent technical fix. Social engineering so far has been the only one adopted. A physical engineering and superior energy technology, long delayed by expenditure on nuclear, is what is required.
Workers wearing protective suits and masks stand near the No.4 reactor TEPCO’s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.
WORKERS at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan have reported steam inside a battered reactor building for the second time in less than a week.
The operator said today steam was seen around the fifth floor of the building housing Reactor No 3 shortly after 9am (1000 AEST), Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said, adding workers are continuing with the operation to inject cooling water into the reactor and a pool storing nuclear fuel.
TEPCO said monitoring equipment showed no significant changes, including in the levels of toxic substances the broken reactor is releasing.
Steam was spotted in the same area on Thursday last week but had disappeared by the next day, with TEPCO saying it did not know for sure what had caused it.
It said it was looking at the possibility that accumulated rainwater had been the source.
The reactor, devastated by a massive tsunami in March 2011, is too dangerous to approach, and workers had seen the steam on a camera feed, the utility said.
The roof of the building was blown off in a hydrogen explosion days after meltdowns that were sparked when cooling systems were flooded as the tsunami swept ashore.
Earlier, TEPCO admitted for the first time that radioactive groundwater has leaked out to sea fuelling fears of ocean contamination.
The admission came the day after Japanese voters went to the polls in an election for the upper house, handing the largely pro-nuclear party of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a handsome majority.
Earlier this month, TEPCO said groundwater samples taken at the battered plant showed levels of possibly cancer-causing caesium-134 had shot up more than 110 times in a few days.
TEPCO did not know the exact reasons for the increased readings but had maintained the toxic groundwater was likely contained at the current location, largely by concrete foundations and steel sheets.
“But now we believe that contaminated water has flown out to the sea,” a TEPCO spokesman said yesterday.
However, the spokesman insisted that the impact of the radioactive water on the ocean would be limited.
“Seawater data have shown no abnormal rise in the levels of radioactivity.”
Radioactive substances released by the meltdowns of reactors at the plant in the aftermath of the huge tsunami of March 2011 have made their way into underground water, which usually flows out to sea.
Environment experts warn that such leakage may affect marine life and ultimately impacting humans who eat sea creatures.
Tens of thousands of people were forced from their homes by the threat of radiation after the tsunami and Fukushima disaster, with some still unable to return.
Although the nuclear accident is not officially recorded as having directly killed anyone, the natural disaster claimed more than 18,000 lives.
However, the nuclear disaster did actually occur and the reports indicate a grave set of additional risks, loss of land, homes, jobs, personal welfare, a huge deprivation to many many nuclear refugees still living in camps and an admitted thyroid burden to children which Japan admits is, for some, above the allowable lifetime dose.
Decontamination is proving relatively ineffective, the evac zone is too small and determined by economics – what the nation can afford – rather than the ultimate long term health of people.
It remains to be seen what the intermediate and long term health costs will be to the afflicted people.
These events and effects are all exclusively nuclear related and in addition to the effects of the events of nature.