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Japan Science

Fukushima's Fallout Worse Than Thought 308

gbrumfiel writes "A new study posted for open peer-review suggests that the nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi released far more radiation than the Japanese government initially estimated. The study [PDF] uses global radioisotope and meteorological data to calculate the size of the release from the plant. Nature News reports that, contrary to official claims, the model shows that fuel being stored in a pool at unit 4 released a significant amount of cesium-137, a long-lived contaminant that has spread across the countryside. It also says that some Xenon-133 may have been released early on in the accident, suggesting that the plant was already damaged before it was hit by a tsunami. Overall, it estimates that Fukushima released about twice as much cesium-137 as the government claims and half as much as Chernobyl."
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Fukushima's Fallout Worse Than Thought

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  • by deathplaybanjo ( 1735092 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2011 @09:12AM (#37843024)
    thats rather significant []
  • by aepervius ( 535155 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2011 @09:53AM (#37843410)
    U around Chernobyl might be polluting as heavy metal, but they are not dangerous per see to live "beside" as long as you do not ingest them. Heck, you can hold U 235 in your hand as long as you got a latex glove. Pu it depends on the isotope as Pu has a "relatively short" life comapred to U (Pu 239 has got a 24000 years half life). More problematic would be much shorter half life element, but still in the decades and century amount, like Cs 137. Because those are much more radioactive than U and Pu, but still long enough half life to be there for a long time. Much less a problem are isotopes which are highly radioactive, with minutes to a year of half life : by now they have gone thru so many half lives that not much is left (for 1 year half life , 20 years mean 1/(2^20)=less than 1 atoms left out of 1 million initially). So yeah, Cs is a big problem, bigger than U (heck some of which is released in the atmosphere by coal power) and Pu. The other one are more heavy metal pollution than radioactively dangerous , relatively speaking.
  • by Mike Greaves ( 1236 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2011 @10:15AM (#37843692) Homepage

    These numbers aren't a big change from estimates 5 months ago.
    42% of Chernobyl's Cs emission, but much lower land deposition - only 21% of total Cs emissions hit land.
    And this is from 3 or 4 separate failures at old ill-prepared sites following a once-in-a-thousand-year quake which hit a chain of volcanic islands which are plagued by quakes.
    Emission per failure is nearly a full order of magnitude below Chernobyl.
    Total land deposition is also nearly a full order of magnitude below Chernobyl.
    The lesson is to improve your game, not loose your cool.

  • by englishstudent ( 1638477 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2011 @10:40AM (#37843982)
    The Govt and TEPCO have been covering everything up from the get go. They are still telling people that it is ok to eat the food. Rice is within acceptable limits people! They should have quarantined everything off and thoroughly tested it before letting any food out of Fukushima/Chiba, but instead they assume innocent until proven guilty. To make matters worse, I believe that testing is largely left up to the Fukushima prefectural government. It is in their best interests (at least short term) to not find any radiation or at least not find amounts high enough to warrant banning produce. From what I understand of the situation, the cheeky bastards have been mixing radioactive produce (rice, milk) with non-radioactive produce so that the radiation level is within "acceptable limits". But I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. Hell, they started planting fresh crops of rice in March. There are many ways to stick your head up your ass-this is just one of them.
  • by catmistake ( 814204 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2011 @10:46AM (#37844094) Journal

    congress cant get their shit together to open up the storage facility.

    Not to defend Congress, but we know that isn't the issue. No one wants the waste. Its not Congress, but the states. Yucca, we know now, is a political farse; all the science was bent to serve the politics.

  • by tp1024 ( 2409684 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2011 @10:48AM (#37844128)
    I haven't read it all yet, but page 23 shows the problem:

    The emission peaks on 12, 13, and 14 March are associated with venting events at units 1, 3 and 2, respectively. It is interesting to notice that in all three cases our a posteriori emissions start increasing earlier than our first guess emissions and drop more strongly at the end of the venting. This seems to indicate that contaminated air was leaking from the containment as pressure was building up, even before active venting started.

    If they had really understood what happened during the accident, they would have made a very different "first guess" for the emissions. In fact, their first guess would have been that contaminated air was leaking from the reactor buildings before active venting started. Why?

    Because of the hydrogen explosions. Containments are vented through the "smoke" stacks. If there had been no leak of the containment prior, during or after the venting, no hydrogen could have accumulated in the reactor buildings, because it would have left through the stacks. It didn't. Some of the hydrogen accumulated in the reactor buildings or they could not have exploded. This hydrogen came straight from the reactors and was as inextricably mixed with Xenon-133 as the proverbial piss in the water of the swimming pool.

    No surprise there at all. It is astonishing that the authors of the paper didn't come to that simple conclusion, namely, that their first guess was naive and their "discovery" was not all that interesting to begin with and hardly worth mentioning.

  • by tmosley ( 996283 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2011 @10:53AM (#37844192)
    That is not free market economics. That is fascism/socialism for the rich. People who want free markets are 100% against bailouts, or they don't know what they are talking about.

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus