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mattbrowne's avatar

Radioactivity in the Pacific Ocean - How long can the dumping of radioactive water in Japan continue?

Asked by mattbrowne (31449 points ) April 4th, 2011

It’s a big ocean. At the moment it’s not a problem for California, Oregon and Washington. But suppose this continues for months.

“The crack in a maintenance pit discovered over the weekend was the latest confirmation that radioactivity continues to spill into the environment. The leak is a symptom of the primary difficulty at the Fukushima Daiichi complex: Radioactive water is pooling around the plant and preventing workers from powering up cooling systems needed to stabilize dangerously vulnerable fuel rods. The plant operators also deliberately dumped 10,000 tons of tainted water—measuring about 500 times above the legal limit for radioactivity—into the ocean Monday to make space at a storage site for water that is even more highly radioactive.

Efforts over the weekend to clog the leak with a special polymer, sawdust and even shredded newspapers failed to halt the flow at a cracked concrete maintenance pit near the shoreline. The water in that leak contains radioactive iodine at rates 10,000 times the legal limit.

The 8-inch-long crack was discovered in the maintenance pit over the weekend. It is sending radioactive water into area that is normally blocked off by a seawall, but a crack was also discovered in that outer barrier Monday.

“Even if they say the contamination will be diluted in the ocean, the longer this continues, the more radioactive particles will be released and the greater the impact on the ocean,” Edano said. “We are strongly urging TEPCO that they have to take immediate action to deal with this.”

The crisis has sparked protests in Japan and raised questions around the world about the safety of nuclear power. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency told delegates at a nuclear safety conference Monday that the industry cannot afford to ignore these concerns.”

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fgw-japan-nuclear-20110405,0,2720438.story

Any opinions?

Should the Japanese government discuss the measures with all countries in the Pacific Ocean region? This isn’t a national matter anymore, right? What do you think?

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7 Answers

Foolaholic's avatar

I completely agree that this turn of events makes this an international issue. I don’t know if we’re talking about international waters or not, but it’s everyone’s ocean and at this point we need to stop addressing this issue as separate nations but as a world in crisis. In all honesty, I think focusing on relief efforts in Japan is a much better use of our (the US’s) time than dealing with Libya, considering our recent track record and all. : /

And, while this is a terrible turn of events indeed, I’m glad it’s calling the validity of nuclear power into question. When it comes to energy, I’m very pro-green power.

mattbrowne's avatar

Germany will remove all nuclear power and fossil fuel for electricity generation within the next 15 – 25 years. Even the majority of conservative voters supports this approach.

Dutchess_III's avatar

The thing about Japan…and not that they could help it…as I see it, they built all of their nuclear plants on a fault line. Not that they had any other choice, given how small they are (the size, roughly, of Montana?). Germany….is a big, land locked country, like the USA. A power plant located on the San Andreas fault isn’t at the same risk as a power plant located in mid Kansas.

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, and not just any fault line, but one that is part of the extremely dangerous Ring of Fire of the Pacific region. Germany and Japan are about the same size (and about half the size of Texas), but Japan has got a 50% higher population.

Dutchess_III's avatar

But Germany is still land locked. It wasn’t created by geologic faults. It was created by politics. And doesn’t have a history of mega earthquakes (I don’t think.)

mattbrowne's avatar

Land locked?

kritiper's avatar

Mankind is doomed anyway, so why worry about a little radiation? The ocean’s are being overfished and are dying without the radiation. Good night, sleep tight, and sweet dreams!
@Dutchess_III – Germany has ocean access on the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.

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