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Clusterfukashima: This is really not good


Radiation near a tank holding highly contaminated water at Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has spiked 18-fold, the plant's operator said on Sunday, highlighting the struggle to bring the crisis under control after more than two years.

Radiation of 1,800 millisieverts per hour - enough to kill an exposed person in four hours - was detected near the bottom of one storage tank on Saturday, Tokyo Electric Power Co, also known as Tepco, said.

The Tepco spokesman also said the higher level of radiation from the latest reading was partly because investigators had used a measuring instrument capable of registering greater amounts of radiation.

Instruments used previously had only been capable of measuring radiation up to 100 millisieverts, but the new instruments were able to measure up to 10,000 millisieverts.

So, er, does that imply that all the previous readings were too low?

Those tanks are built of steel plates stuck together by bolts - the same structure as the tank that was found last month to have leaked 300 tons of highly toxic water.

Yeah, who knew tanks like that would leak? And the detail I like -- that some of the piping between the tanks of deadly, highly corrosive, radioactive liquid were made viny -- is missing from this story.

I don't want to sound cranky about this, and gawd knows we've got our own Clusterfucks, but isn't an advanced industrial economy supposed to be able to do better than this?

With no one seeming to know how to bring the crisis to an end, Tepco said last week it would invite foreign decommissioning experts to advise it on how to deal with the highly radioactive water leaking from the site.

Japan has also signaled it might dip into a $3.6 billion emergency reserve fund to help pay for the clean-up of a situation the chief cabinet secretary has described as "deplorable".

Its nuclear regulator has also expressed fear that the disaster was beyond Tepco's ability to cope in some respects.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida visited Chernobyl in Ukraine, the site of the 1986 disaster, hoping to apply lessons learned there to Fukushima.

Jeebus, just write Putin the check for $3.6 billion and bring on the Russian helicopters!

NOTE To be fair, I believe that Chernyobl and Fukashima are different disasters, and the entombment solution used by the Russians won't work at Fukashima. Still, it would be nice if the Fukushima cores didn't melt their way down through the earth all the way to the groundwater because that would be bad.

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quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

I know nothing, nothing, (said in the voice of Manuel, the Spanish waiter in Fawlty Towers) about this particular stupidity at Fukushima. The following possibility is just based on my general familiarity with measuring equipment.

I'd guess the likeliest explanation for discovering that they were using a gauge with the wrong range is that some brighter wit finally noticed that all the readings were exactly 100.

Radiation doesn't have the same level day in, day out, constantly. That kind of thing implies the equipment is pegged and you need to try a bigger measuring gauge.

So-o, they finally did that and found -- oopsie -- that the reading is actually 1800.

The only good news is that, no, this probably wasn't the problem with all the gauges or all the time. Any good lab tech is going to notice that problem fairly quickly.

I know. Depending on goodness when it comes to nukes is not reassuring.