TEPCO Admits Radioactive Water Is Leaking Into Pacific

B. McPherson
Fukushima the gift that keeps on giving
Tokyo Electric Power Company(TEPCO) executives have finally admitted that radioactive water is leaking into the Pacific Ocean and has likely been doing so since the ill fated Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power station failed so spectacularly in March 2011.

TEPCO’s behavior since the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami which hit Japan in 2011 has been of incompetence. It has appeared that the executives of the company were more concerned with profits and saving face than saving the people who were affected by the disaster.

The clean up and shut down of the Fukushima complex has been so fraught with bungling that it would be laughable except for the fact that people’s lives have been ruined and many will die as a result of their floundering. Incidents where the cooling system is knocked off line by gnawing rats in the electrical system beggars belief.  That’s just one of the incidents that threatened the world with another melt down incident in the two years since the failure of the plant.

For some reason, hot fuel rods were stored in pools of water a hundred feet above ground. The supports were compromised following the failure of Fukushima and highly radioactive fuel rods and surrounding water threatened to tumble to ground and possibly setting up a new meltdown. The solution for that dilemma  was to construct steel tanks to hold the “hot” water. Unfortunately, the tanks leaked at the seams when they were tested.

Fukushima plant manager Masayuki Ono was quoted:
We would like to offer our deep apology for causing grave worries for many people, especially for people in Fukushima," Ono said.   Al Jazeera

It sounds a bit hollow to me on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. Perhaps he should have said, “We would like to offer our deep apology for causing early graves for many people, especially for people in Fukushima and around the world.”

Workers have reported steam wafting from the ruined building, leading to speculation that the cooling system is not doing its job.

Radioactivity spewing from the wrecked plant is the likely cause of thyroid cancer in three people who were under 18 years when the plant failed. Japan Times News reports that an estimated 360 000 children were in the fall out area. There are now ten cancers detected among them, including the three with thyroid cancer.

Now the spotlight is turning to the cleanup workers who were exposed to excessive levels of radiation which has increased their chances of developing thyroid cancer. Of the approximately 20 000 workers there over the past two years, about 10% were exposed to dangerous levels. TEPCO has generously agreed to pay for annual cancer testing.

The clean up and decommissioning of the nuclear power station is expected to take about 40 years. At any one time about 3 000 workers are needed to keep the cores cooled and to stem the water leaks. Rumours denied by TEPCO, are circulating that they are having difficulty recruiting enough workers.
Hiroyuki Watanabe, a municipal assemblyman for the city of Iwaki:

“They are scrounging around, barely able to clear the numbers,” he said. “Why would anyone want to work at a nuclear plant, of all places, when other work is available?”
According to Watanabe, a nuclear worker generally earns about ¥10,000 a day. In contrast, decontamination work outside the plant, generally involving less exposure to radiation, is paid for by the Environment Ministry, and with bonuses for working a job officially categorized as dangerous, totals about ¥16,000 a day, he said.  Japan Times

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