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Toxic flush: Typhoon causes radioactive leaks at Fukushima

Published time: October 17, 2013 15:34
Edited time: October 18, 2013 09:25
AFP Photo / Japan Pool via JIJI Press Japan out

AFP Photo / Japan Pool via JIJI Press Japan out

A powerful typhoon which swept through Japan led to highly radioactive water near the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant being released into a nearby drainage ditch, increasing the risk of it flowing into the sea.

On Wednesday, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the plant’s operator, said it had detected high levels of radiation in a ditch leading to the Pacific Ocean, and that it suspected heavy rains had lifted contaminated soil.

Workers say that Strontium-90 – a radioactive isotope of the alkaline earth metal strontium produced by nuclear fission – along with other isotopes that emit beta rays measuring 1,400 becquerels (Bq) per liter were detected in the ditch, which is located about 150 meters from the ocean, The Asahi Shimbun reported.

Rescue workers look for victims at a site that is damaged by a landslide caused by Typhoon Wipha in Izu Oshima island, south of Tokyo October 17, 2013 (Reuters / Yuya Shino)

The legal standard for strontium emissions is 30 becquerels per liter. One becquerel is defined as the activity of a quantity of radioactive material in which one nucleus decays per second.

The water was collected Wednesday, one day after Typhoon Wipha slammed into Japan. On Tuesday, when the storm swept over eastern Japan, the radioactivity level was 19 becquerels per liter, TEPCO said.

Rainwater pumped out at the site on Wednesday proved to have radioactivity levels that were lower than provisional standards approved the previous day by the country’s Nuclear Regulation Authority. The workers, therefore, believe the rainwater is not the cause of the high levels of radioactivity discovered in the ditch.

TEPCO workers will clean out the drainage ditch, as it currently remains unknown if any of the highly contaminated water has flown into the ocean.

A rescue worker looks for a victim of a landslide caused by Typhoon Wipha in Izu Oshima island, south of Tokyo October 17, 2013 (Reuters / Yuya Shino)

Typhoon Wipha, described by weather forecasters as the strongest in a decade, left at least 17 people dead and 50 missing in its wake.

The storm grazed the Fukushima coast around midday, although it did not cause any new damage to the plant and its temporary containers where radioactive water is stored.

More than 80 centimeters of rain fell in less than 24 hours, forcing TEPCO to pump out massive quantities of rainwater collected in the protective containers where more than 1,000 temporary tanks with contaminated water are being stored.

The rainwater was checked for radioactivity and released into the sea, a company spokesman told Reuters.

Earlier this month, TEPCO announced 430 liters of polluted water had spilled from a tank as the company’s employees tried to remove rainwater dumped at the plant by recent storms.

It is unknown how much of the contaminated water flowed into the sea.

Comments (8)


Anonymous user 20.10.2013 18:04

@Mark Roman,
Just constructive criticism,not personal,everyone of your posts are negative.Instead of complaining so much almost acknowledging defeat to the world,why not be encouraging those who are trying to help, people are actually doing something to attempt to help. Instead of being negative about,we need hope people from the world who will not just sit and give up.Some are actually something about it.What have you done beside vent anger?Have you contributed to the solution @the situation?I haven't seen that from you. Encourage your fellow man who is doing their best behind the scenes,including UScitzens.


Kim 18.10.2013 15:45

Yes it is very bad, Kim. And yes, there is nothing that can be done to stop it.>>>>

Thanks for your comment. What about constructing a concrete wall around the entire facility? Do u think they will be able to remove any of the plutonium rods?


Kim Gerhard 18.10.2013 12:38

Noah Way 18.10.2013 01:09

Because GE owns NBC and is in the nuclear power plant business (and armaments, too).

[quot e name='Kim' time='17.10.2013 23:30']I do wonder too, why isn't this story being told in the US mainstream media?



Maybe they do not want the people along the coast in the United States should know that they bathe in radioactive water ? Or they'll wait with the news at the right time so it will be riots and they can impose martial law? Who knows ? Who trust usa` s management ????

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