Skip to comments.Plutonium traces point to core leak (Fukushima
Posted on 03/29/2011 6:50:26 PM PDT by Ronin
Heavy fuel rod damage feared; trenches fill up with toxic water
Plutonium that may have come from a reactor core at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant was detected in soil on the premises, indicating fuel rods suffered heavy damage, Tokyo Electric Power Co. has revealed.
Although Tepco said late Monday the amount detected, based on soil samples taken a week ago, is extremely small and not enough to harm human health, the latest finding indicated not just heavy damage to fuel rods but also that strong radioactive materials may be leaking from at least one reactor containment vessel.
A Tepco spokesman told reporters Tuesday the utility will continue to monitor plutonium levels in the soil in the plant but has no plans to expand its checks to beyond the premises for the time being.
"Plutonium is emitted only when the temperature (inside a reactor's core) is really high. That shows how badly (the fuel rods) were damaged and how serious this accident is," Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency official Hidehiko Nishiyama said Tuesday. "Still, the amount is not an immediate threat to human health."
According to Tepco, the plutonium levels were around the same as those detected in Japan after the United States and the Soviet Union conducted nuclear tests in the past.
Tepco collected soil samples in five locations within the plant's premises on March 21 and 22. At one of the five sites, plutonium-238 with a density of 0.54 becquerel per kilogram of soil was detected, while another site had 0.18 becquerel.
An average soil sample in Japan can contain up to 0.15 becquerel, Tepco said.
Reactor No. 3 uses and stores MOX fuel a mix of uranium and plutonium oxide. But reactors 1 and 2 also generated plutonium, thus the source of the leak at present is uncertain, Tepco said.
Plutonium doesn't vaporize and thus is believed not to have carried very far from the compound, unlike other radioactive substances, particularly iodine and cesium.
Another radioactive pollution threat looms in the reactors' subterranean "trenches," which could overflow with contaminated water a dilemma because Tepco must continue pouring water to cool the No. 1, 2 and 3 reactors and their spent fuel cooling pools. It is believed the cooling water is reaching the trenches.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the priority is to keep pouring water to prevent further damage to the fuel rods, despite the leak and trench overflow threat. "We need to prevent overheating and boil-drying of fuel rods. That should be the priority," he said.
On Monday, the underground trenches outside the turbine buildings of reactors 1, 2 and 3 were filling with radioactive water, prompting Tepco to pile sandbags near the surface port of reactor No. 1 to prevent the water from flowing into the sea.
Tepco on Tuesday didn't pile sandbags at the other two reactor trench openings because they weren't in imminent danger of overflowing.
The levels of water in the trenches, whose exits are some 55 to 70 meters from the shore, have been stable, and radioactive water has not been confirmed to have overflowed into the Pacific, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said.
The water level in the reactor No. 1 trench was only 10 cm below the ground-level port Monday night, while that of No. 2 was 1 meter from overflowing and that of No. 3 was 1.5 meters below ground level.
The turbine building basements of reactors 1 through 4 are also flooded with highly radioactive water, slowing efforts to restore critical safety functions, particularly the cooling pumps.
(Information from Kyodo added)
If there is another big quake now, we're totally screwed.
The amount of plutonium found in the soil was less than the amount found in Japan during the atmospheric testing during the Cold War.
If you analyzed my Gentleman's Juice you would find
(I owned a watch in the 80's)
I thought that Pu was one of those things where this is no such thing as a “safe dose”. Am I wrong or is this more TEPCO Bravo Sierra?
Look, they used Pu on Godzilla, and it didn’t kill him, so....
If anyone doesn’t believe our intelligence agencies didn’t have a fix on the amount and types of releases from nearly the beginning of this incident, you’re fooling yourself. The US and Japanese government’s know exactly what is being released.
We’re getting our news spoon fed.
Spent fuel contains plutonium. The media keeps mentioning the reactors which are inside the containments. In the same line they mention the spent fuel pools which are NOT in the containment. It is possible the cladding on the rods in the pools were damaged. Given the amount of water that was dumped in the pools by helicopters, fire engines and even a concrete pump, water has been spread every where including into the turbine building.
That means the plutonium trace they found did not come from the reactor.
So, how do the five soil samples recently taken at the site
compare to similar samples taken in the same location prior to the earthquake?
And the Nikkei is up 200 points. Wall street is blasting off.
Even though in addition to this the data is very bad.
Any doubt that the markets are now a sham controlled by the financial elites who can print and distribute at will. The markets have no connection with reality. They are completely artificial.
Yes, true that, Revel.