tagged w/ Pacific Ocean
Fish caught off the coast of Japan following the Fukushima nuclear disaster are still contaminated, bringing speculation that leakage from the reactors has not been fully stopped. If true, it could threaten area marine life for decades to come.
A recent article in Science reveals that 40 per cent of bottom-dwelling marine species show cesium-134 and 137 levels above normal.
In examining the data, collected by Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the article’s author Ken Buesseler, a marine chemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, discovered that the levels of contamination in most fish have not declined a year after the March 2011 tragedy. August samples of bottom feeders had cesium levels some 250 times the level the Japanese government considers safe.
“The numbers aren't going down. Oceans usually cause the concentrations to decrease if the spigot is turned off,” Buesseler told the Associated Press in an interview. “There has to be somewhere they're picking up the cesium.”
“Option one is the seafloor is the source of the continued contamination. The other source could be the reactors themselves,” he said.
More at RT link.Fish caught off the coast of Japan following the Fukushima nuclear disaster are still... more
A new study finds elevated levels of caffeine at several sites in Pacific Ocean waters off the coast of Oregon -- though not necessarily where researchers expected.
This study is the first to look at caffeine pollution off the Oregon coast. It was developed and conducted by Portland State University master's student Zoe Rodriguez del Rey and her faculty adviser Elise Granek, assistant professor of Environmental Science and Management, in collaboration with Steve Sylvester of Washington State University, Vancouver
The study found high caffeine levels near Carl Washburne State Park (Florence, Ore.) and Cape Lookout, two areas not near the potential pollution sources, yet low levels of caffeine near large population centers like Astoria/Warrenton and Coos Bay.
High levels were also found following a late-season storm of wind and rain that triggered sewer overflows.
The results seem to indicate that wastewater treatment plants are effective at removing caffeine, but that high rainfall and combined sewer overflows flush the contaminants out to sea. The results also suggest that septic tanks, such as those used at the state parks, may be less effective at containing pollution.
"Our study findings indicate that, contrary to our prediction, the waste water treatment plants are not a major source of caffeine to coastal waters," says Granek. "However, onsite waste disposal systems may be a big contributor of contaminants to Oregon's coastal ocean and need to be better studied to fully understand their contribution to pollution of ocean waters."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120719105301.htmA new study finds elevated levels of caffeine at several sites in Pacific Ocean waters... more
Seeking to chronicle Amelia Earhart's fate 75 years after she disappeared over the Pacific, researchers prepared on Monday to look for wreckage of her airplane near a remote island where they believe the famed U.S. aviator died as a castaway.
Organizers hope the expedition will conclusively solve one of the most enduring mysteries of the 20th century - what became of Earhart after she vanished during an attempt to become the first pilot, man or woman, to circle the globe around the equator.
A recent flurry of clues point to the possibility that Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, ended up marooned on the tiny uninhabited island of Nikumaroro, part of the Pacific archipelago Republic of Kiribati.
"The public wants evidence, a smoking gun, that this is the place where Amelia Earhart's journey ended," said Richard Gillespie, executive director of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR). "That smoking gun is Earhart's plane."
The group's research team had planned to set off by boat on Monday from Hawaii on a 1,800-mile voyage to Nikumaroro accompanied by the technicians from a U.S. Navy contractor called Phoenix International who recovered "black-box" flight-data recorders from an Air France crash from the floor of the Atlantic last year.
But the departure was postponed for a day, until Tuesday, because of a delay in the arrival of a Kiribati customs official who is to accompany the expedition, said Stephanie Buttrill, a spokeswoman for the group. The team will spend 10 days at the search site, plus 16 days at sea traveling to and from the island.
Previous missions to Nikumaroro have unearthed tantalizing evidence that Earhart was there, including a cosmetic bottle from the 1930s that appeared to be jar of a once-popular brand of anti-freckle cream.
Also found were a clothing zipper from the '30s, pieces of a woman's compact, a bottle of hand lotion, parts of a woman's shoe and a man's shoe, a bone-handled pocket knife of the type Earhart carried and human bone fragments.
"We've found artifacts of an American woman castaway from the 1930s, but we haven't found anything with her name on it," said Gillespie. "We've tried to get contact DNA from things that were touched, and it didn't work. The environment was too destructive. The recovered bone samples were too small. The logical thing is the airplane."
FLYING INTO THE UNKNOWN
Earhart and Noonan were last seen taking off in her twin-engine Lockheed Electra on July 2, 1937, from Papua New Guinea en route to tiny Howland Island, some 2,500 miles away in the central Pacific. Radio contact with her plane was lost hours later after she reported running low on fuel.
A massive air-and-sea search, the most extensive such U.S. operation at that time, was unsuccessful. Earhart's plane was presumed to have gone down, but it has never been known whether she survived, and if so, for how long.
TIGHAR researchers theorize that Earhart and Noonan made an emergency landing on Nikumaroro, then called Gardner Island, about 400 miles southeast of their destination on Howland.
Gillespie believes that within of days of its landing, the plane was washed over the island's edge by rising tides and surf, and was pulled down the reef slope into as-yet unexplored depths.
A recently enhanced 1937 photograph, taken three months after Earhart's disappearance by a British officer, shows what is now thought to be a detached landing gear assembly on the island's Western reef.
It is the same location where TIGHAR had hypothesized the plane might have landed and will be the geographic starting point in their underwater search.
Using underwater robotic submarines equipped with sonar, researchers will first map the sea floor, then probe the depths for objects that might be pieces of the aircraft.
More at the linkSeeking to chronicle Amelia Earhart's fate 75 years after she disappeared over... more
TOKYO — What passes for normal at the Fukushima Daiichi plant today would have caused shudders among even the most sanguine of experts before an earthquake and tsunami set off the world’s second most serious nuclear crisis after Chernobyl.
Fourteen months after the accident, a pool brimming with used fuel rods and filled with vast quantities of radioactive cesium still sits on the top floor of a heavily damaged reactor building, covered only with plastic.
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2012/05/26/world/27japan/27japan-articleLarge.jpgTOKYO — What passes for normal at the Fukushima Daiichi plant today would have... more
Pacific reef shark populations plummeting, study says
By Matthew Knight, CNN
updated 10:38 AM EDT, Sat April 28, 2012
New study provides estimates on reef shark populations near islands in Pacific Ocean
Marine scientists find reef shark numbers dramatically reduced around inhabited islands
Over 1600 surveys make up study which forms part of NOAA Pacific monitoring program
(CNN) -- Humans are causing a steep decline in populations of reef sharks in the Pacific Ocean according to a new study by a group of international marine scientists.
The new estimates of reef sharks compared numbers around populated islands with those living near uninhabited ones. The results were sobering, say researchers.
"We estimate that reef shark numbers have dropped substantially around populated islands, generally by more than 90% compared to those at the most untouched reefs," said lead author Marc Nadon from the Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research at the University of Hawaii.
Over 1600 underwater surveys across 46 U.S. Pacific islands and atolls were undertaken in the study and combined with data on human population, habitat complexity, reef size and satellite records.
The estimates were gathered using "towed-dive surveys" where paired SCUBA divers record shark sightings while being towed behind a small boat. It's a method which provides a more accurate census of mobile reef fish like sharks over large areas, according to researchers.
"Around each of the heavily populated areas we surveyed -- in the main Hawaiian Islands, the Mariana Archipelago and the American Samoa -- reef shark numbers were greatly depressed compared to reefs in the same regions that were simply further away from humans," Nadon said.
"We estimate that less than 10% of the baseline numbers remain in these areas," he added.
Reef shark fins are not the most valuable ... but a lot of other oceanic sharks have already declined a lot so that's why fisherman are now turning to them." - Julia Baum, University of Victoria
Co-author of the study, Julia Baum from Canada's University of Victoria says the human disturbances to reef shark populations are likely down to fishing -- either incidentally caught in the nets of commercial or recreational fishermen or by direct targeting for their fins.
"Reef shark fins are not the most valuable because they tend to be smaller than other sharks, but a lot of other oceanic sharks have already declined a lot so that's why fisherman are now turning to them," Baum said.
She estimates these fins sell for around $100 per kilogram with demand coming from Asian markets where shark fin soup can be found on the menu for weddings and business banquets.
Reef sharks, which are around six to eight feet long (1.8 meters to 2.4 meters), are the "apex predators" of coral reefs Baum says, and like predators in other eco-systems play an important role in structuring food webs. But there is still much to learn about their specific role.
"Frankly, we're still trying to figure out what predators do on reefs. The reason for that is because most predators have been removed from reefs. Most reefs that coral reef biologists study are moderately to heavily degraded," Baum said.
The study forms part of the U.S.'s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program and is published online in the journal Conservation Biology.
Pacific reef shark populations plummeting, study says
By Matthew... more
....And children have to count the microsieverts of radiation before they can go out to play and can't play near water or on grass if they play at all. They are resigned to a life where they will more than likely suffer with cancer in the next twenty to thirty years but will not be able to hold anyone to account for it. This is the world we are making for them. Polluted, toxic, radioactive. But you won't get much of a response about this. It has been taken out of the consciousness of people by other distractions that are seen as much more important. Which in and of itself is a glaring example of why Fukushima was allowed to be built on a fault in the first place. I wonder how much of the radiation has been blown and has seeped into our rain, our food and our soil. We won't be told that either. It's an "election" year. But the "new age" is coming...I hope.....And children have to count the microsieverts of radiation before they can go out... more
All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray, California streaming on such a winter’s day”. Seems like yesterday the entire country was sweltering in wicked summer heat with LA being the most Icelandic spot in the nation. We blasted out of steamy Orlando traveling thru an irradiated Jet stream complements of Fukushima landing in LAX with 3 hours of east coast daylight left in the overhead bin. As the plane taxied, I was occupied with my new Droid (Evo) 3D. I swore never to be one of those ADHD guys, checking my phone every two minutes with an occasional lobotomized glance into space. I can’t help it though, it’s so beautiful.
http://infinitetolerance.com/personal/california-streaming-travel-guide-goofballs/All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray, California streaming on such a... more
Los Angeles Times...
Environmental news from California and beyond
Tons of L.A. River trash to be captured before hitting the sea
November 1, 2011 | 4:57 pm
Tons of trash normally swept to the ocean by the Los Angeles River should be captured by thousands of trash screens that have been installed beneath nearly every storm drain in the lower reaches of the river.
The project is believed to be the largest debris-capturing effort in the nation and marks the most aggressive attack yet on river trash in the Los Angeles region.
The project spans 16 cities and is expected to keep 840,000 pounds of debris -- the equivalent of about 450 Volkswagen Beetles -- from reaching the ocean each year, according to the Gateway Authority, a coalition of cities and public water agencies in southeastern L.A. County.
The biggest winner from the project is Long Beach, where workers routinely have to scoop floating islands of plastic bottles, grocery bags and other debris flowing from dozens of communities upstream before it litters the city’s coastline.
In August 2010, crews began installing the stainless-steel, full-capture trash devices inside nearly 12,000 catch basins.
The simple mesh contraptions sit just below the drains where water from city streets flows into the storm-water system and can catch debris as small as a cigarette butt.
Another 5,400 drains in the most-littered areas also were outfitted with street-level retractable screens as a second layer of defense.
.Los Angeles Times...
Environmental news from California and beyond... more
U.S. beefs up conservation efforts for endangered sea turtles
By Shelby Lin Erdman, CNN Radio
September 18, 2011 8:03 p.m. EDT
PHOTO: Loggerhead turtles will be divided into nine distinct population groups based on where they live, according to new regulations.
(CNN) -- The government has revised its rules on sea turtles to try to decrease the number killed every year and reduce the threats they face.
The new regulations place the Loggerhead turtle into nine distinct population groups, depending on where they live, instead of listing the marine animal as a single worldwide species. In all nine segments the turtles are listed as either threatened or endangered.
Officials at both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, both responsible for overseeing the turtle conservation efforts, say they can better address the challenges the turtles face with the new geographical division.
Loggerhead or marine turtles live in tropical and subtropical waters around the world. The new "distinct population segments" for the turtles are: The Northeast Atlantic Ocean group, the Mediterranean Sea, the North Indian Ocean, the North Pacific Ocean, the South Pacific Ocean, the Northwest Atlantic, which includes the Gulf of Mexico and our Atlantic Coast, the South Atlantic Ocean, the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean and the Southwest Indian Ocean.
Researchers estimate more than 4,500 loggerheads are killed every year by commercial fishing, but environmentalists believe the number is probably much higher.
Commercial fishing is one of the biggest risks for the turtles, whether they live in the Indian, Pacific or Atlantic oceans, said Jim Lecky, the fisheries director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
"They all continue to be challenged by a number of threats, incidental capture in fishing gear, longlines, gill nets, trawl gear, trap and pot lines, which tangle turtles and other species, and dredges; all have incidental mortality of sea turtles in those fisheries," he said.
But Lecky says that's not the only threat for the turtles. "They are all also challenged by losses of habitat, degradation of nesting habitat. There still is direct harvest of eggs in adults ... at some level and they are all subject to vessel strikes."
The turtles are facing all those threats, but at different levels. So the new rules will allow fine-tuning of sea turtle conservation measures and regulations.
"We believe that this revised listing of the Loggerhead will help us and our partners to better focus recovery and conservation efforts by allowing us to take a more regional approach. But, again, the separation of Loggerhead into these population groups will not reduce our current conservation efforts," said Sandy MacPherson, the national sea turtle coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
MacPherson also told CNN Radio, "These new listings will help us to provide more focused recovery and conservation, as well as more focused threat analysis and evaluation of conservation successes."
The Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement that Loggerhead populations "need more protection to survive this century."
The rule revisions also included designating five regional populations as endangered species, which the group characterized as "a wake-up call that a whole host of threats, from oil spills, channel dredging and commercial trawling to longline and gillnet fisheries, continue to kill off turtles faster than the animals can possibly hope to reproduce."
CNN's Ninette Sosa and Barbara Hall both contributed to this report.CNN...
U.S. beefs up conservation efforts for endangered sea turtles
7.3-magnitude quake strikes in Pacific, near Fiji islands
By the CNN Wire Staff
September 15, 2011 5:42 p.m. EDT
The U.S. Geological Survey says its depth was 626 kilometers, or 390 miles
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center says a "destructive tsunami was not generated"
The quake's epicenter was estimated as 74 miles south-southwest of Fiji's Ndoi Island
(CNN) -- A 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck early Friday in the Fiji islands region of the Pacific Ocean, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.
According to the U.S.-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, "a destructive tsunami was not generated, based on earthquake and historical tsunami data."
The quake struck at a depth of 626 kilometers, or about 390 miles below the earth's surface, the Geological Survey said on its website. Its epicenter was 74 miles south-southwest of Fiji's Ndoi Island, 281 miles south-southeast of the Fijian capital, Suva, and 264 miles west of Nuku'alofa in Tonga, according to the U.S. agency's estimations.
It happened just after 7:30 a.m. Friday, or 3:30 p.m. ET. Initially, it was reported as 7.2 magnitude.
Besides the U.S.-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, the Japan Meteorological Agency also did not release any tsunami warnings or advisories as a result of the quake.
7.3-magnitude quake strikes in Pacific, near Fiji islands
By the CNN... more
Los Angeles Times...
Radioactive element detected in La Jolla, Calif.
Radioactive isotope, maybe from Fukushima, detected, but ...
August 15, 2011 | 3:17 pm
Very small amounts of a radioactive isotope of sulfur, believed to have traveled across the Pacific Ocean from the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, have been detected in La Jolla, Calif., by UC San Diego scientists.
But there's no need to worry: The amounts are nowhere near enough to cause health problems, researchers said.
Senior author Mark Thiemens and his team keep tabs on levels of sulfur-35 as part of their climate research. Readings collected shortly after the March 11 tsunami in Japan indicated that there were 1,500 atoms of sulfur-35 per cubic meter of air in La Jolla, a significant increase over normal levels.
The UCSD team interpreted the bump as the result of a reaction that would have occurred when plant workers used seawater to cool overheating reactors at Fukushima. Neutrons from the reactor core would have reacted with chlorine in ocean water to create radioactive sulfur, Thiemens said.
"The levels we observed are in no way harmful in California," Thiemens said.
The group reported the measurements Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Thiemens and his colleagues use highly sensitive instruments to detect the minuscule amounts of radioactive sulfur that circulate naturally in the atmosphere. That they detected a bump in levels of radioactive sulfur was "not surprising," said Kai Vetter, who teaches radiation detection at UC Berkeley. Vetter's lab has been tracking incoming radiation from Japan and has reported upticks too -- though again, nothing that would pose a danger to people in the U.S.
But Vetter and other nuclear engineers questioned elements of the research, which used the readings taken in La Jolla to extrapolate the amount of neutron leakage from the Fukushima plant. Elmer Lewis of Northwestern University and Michael Golay of MIT were unconvinced that the radiation in question even originated at the nuclear plant.
Edward Morse, of UC Berkeley, said that the traces of radioactive sulfur probably originated at Fukushima, but he took issue with the team's final calculations.
"They're not nuclear engineers," Morse said. "They were a little out of their depth."
.Los Angeles Times...
Radioactive element detected in La Jolla, Calif.... more
Los Angeles Times...
Pacific Ocean study finds fish tainted by plastic
June 30, 2011 | 4:38 pm
Southern California researchers found plastic in nearly 1 in 10 small fish collected in the northern Pacific Ocean in the latest study to call attention to floating marine debris entering the food chain.
The study published this week by scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego estimated that fish in the northern Pacific Ocean are ingesting as much as 24,000 tons of plastic each year.
Although the research found a lower percentage of affected fish than previous studies, it is the latest to quantify how many fish are eating marine garbage — most of it confetti-sized flecks of discarded plastic — that has accumulated in vast, slow-moving ocean currents known as gyres.
The results came from a 2009 voyage a group of graduate students made to the so-called Pacific garbage patch, an area of high concentration of fragments of floating garbage about 1,000 miles off the California coast. Researchers cast nets into the water and collected 141 fish, mostly lanternfish measuring just a few inches, and took them to a laboratory in San Diego to dissect.
Scientists found plastic debris in 9.2% of their stomachs, much of it broken down into multicolored fragments smaller than a human fingernail. However, they believe the actual proportion of fish that have consumed plastic is significantly higher.
“We can’t tell how many fish ate plastic and died, how many fish ate plastic and regurgitated it or passed it out of their intestines,” said Rebecca Asch, a Scripps doctoral candidate in biological oceanography and one of the study's authors.
Because the widespread lanternfish is a common food source for larger fish, the study raises concerns that plastics and pollutants they contain, could be making their way up the food chain into seafood ingested by humans.
Scripps found a lower rate of plastic ingestion than previous research, such as a study by the Algalita Marine Research Foundation that found plastic in the stomachs of 35% of fish in the same general area of the Pacific.
Past studies may have been inflated by keeping nets in the water for longer periods, giving fish the chance to eat bits of plastic swept up in the nets with them, Scripps scientists said.
In their study, they tried to minimize that by towing their net only 15 minutes at a time. They stressed that their study broadly concludes the same thing: garbage is present in the food chain.
“We’re still finding a substantial amount of plastic,” Asch said. “It should be zero.”
Photo: Two lanternfish and several bits of plastic collected in 2009 during the Scripps Environmental Accumulation of Plastic Expedition. Credit: J. LeichterLos Angeles Times...
Pacific Ocean study finds fish tainted by plastic
June 30,... more
Tokyo Electric chief to visit reactor disaster HQ
By Matt Smith, CNN
April 11, 2011 2:29 a.m. EDT
Tokyo Electric's president is planning to visit the disaster command center
A plant worker falls ill and is diagnosed with exhaustion
Engineers hope a drone will give them a better picture of the reactors
More than 2,000 people protest against nuclear power in Tokyo
Tokyo (CNN) -- The president of the Tokyo Electric Power Company planned to visit the command center for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster Monday as Japan marked one month since the deadly earthquake that spawned the crisis.
Tokyo Electric President Masataka Shimizu will visit the off-site headquarters but does not plan to visit the crippled power plant itself, the company said.
Shimizu had been hospitalized due to "fatigue and stress" in late March, with company chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata taking over operations in his absence.
Three of the six reactors at the plant were damaged when the tsunami that followed the magnitude 9 earthquake March 11 knocked out cooling systems. Hydrogen explosions have blown apart the building surrounding units 1 and 3, the No. 2 reactor is believed to be leaking highly radioactive water and the spent fuel pools of units 1, 3 and 4 have been an ongoing concern for authorities.
Radioactive particles have been spread across much of the surrounding area, and Japan has dumped thousands of tons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean to make room for more dangerously contaminated water now flooding the basements of the units' turbine plants.
Sunday, engineers used a flying drone to peer into the damaged reactors in hopes of getting a better look at the units and hopefully the pools of spent fuel inside, company spokesman Junichi Matsumoto said. Images captured by the drone are expected to be released Monday, he said.
And the controversial dumping of less-contaminated water from a waste treatment facility has been completed, Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency announced Monday. A total of 9,070 metric tons of water was discharged into the Pacific Ocean in the past week, the agency reported -- less than the 10,000 tons originally expected.
Tokyo Electric plans to use the facility to contain some of the water that has flooded the turbine plants behind units 1 through 3, a critical first step toward restoring normal cooling. The company is now using remote-controlled heavy machinery to clear away debris outside the plant and has begun the process of laying new pipes to start pumping radioactive water into the waste reservoir.
One worker fell ill during the work on Sunday, the company said. The subcontractor, a man in his 30s, was taken to a hospital and diagnosed with exhaustion, Tokyo Electric said. He had been working four-hour shifts since March 23, Tokyo Electric said, and it was unclear whether he had received a day off.
The worker was exposed to 4.82 millisieverts of radation, but no radioactive substances were found on his body. His cumulative exposure is 16 millisieverts, well below the 250-millisievert limit for workers in the plant. He was with a group of 30 subcontractors working in the area, and was wearing protective gear, the company said.
Meanwhile, two of the world's largest concrete pumps were en route to Japan as part of the effort to help resolve the crisis. Although the pumps were built to pump concrete, they can be modified to pump water at high pressure, with a 230-feet reach and "pinpoint accuracy," said Bill Dwyer, vice president of sales and marketing for manufacturer Putzmeister America.
"It allows workers to work from a greater distance," Dwyer said. One pump is set to arrive in Japan on Monday and the second on Tuesday, he said.
Workers have been pouring hundreds of tons of fresh water a day into the three damaged reactors and the spent fuel pools of units 1-4 to keep them cool until normal circulation systems can be restored. The No. 2 reactor is believed to be leaking highly radioactive water, some of which had been spilling into the Pacific until Wednesday. Runoff from shore is also believed to be carrying some radioactivity to the sea.
The radioactive particles now in the water are dispersing into the ocean. But concentrations of radioactive iodine-131 remained 25 times higher than the Japanese legal standard in water sampled 16 kilometers (10 miles) south of the plant on Saturday.
That's down from 93 times the limit on Wednesday, according to sampling data released Sunday. Levels of longer-lived cesium-137, which takes 30 years to lose half its radioactivity, remained nearly six times the legal limit but well below levels reported earlier this week.
The week-long discharge was billed as an emergency measure, but it infuriated Japan's fishing industry and drew protests from neighboring South Korea. And the crisis spurred more than 2,000 people to march against nuclear energy in Tokyo on Sunday.
"I was just a couch potato critic, but here we are today with friends for the first time, and I'm sure it's the first time for a lot of people today," said Karima Asuma Stickan, one of the protesters.
Protesters marched from the park, ringed with cherry blossoms, to Tokyo Electric's headquarters and on to the Ministry of the Economy, Trade and Industry, which regulates Japanese nuclear power plants. Makiko Mikami told CNN that no one believes they're getting enough answers from either the utility or the government.
"The problem is, I think I'm not sure they know the whole picture themselves," Mikami said. "If they know, they should share that information with us. And if they don't, they should admit that they're scared as well."
Ailing Chang and Gen Shimada contributed to this report for CNN.Tokyo Electric chief to visit reactor disaster HQ
By Matt Smith, CNN
April 11, 2011... more
Japan dumps thousands of tons of radioactive water into sea
By the CNN Wire Staff
April 4, 2011 9:47 a.m. EDT
A Tokyo Electric Power Company picture from April 2 shows water gushing from the cracked concrete shaft.
Tokyo (CNN) -- Japan began dumping thousands of tons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean on Monday, an emergency move officials said was needed to curtail a worse leak from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
In all, about 11,500 tons of radioactive water that has collected at the nuclear facility will be dumped into the sea, officials said Monday, as workers also try to deal with a crack that has been a conduit for contamination.
The radiation levels were highest in the water that was being drained from reactor No. 6, the officials said.
These are the latest but hardly the only challenges facing workers at the embattled power plant and its six reactors, which have been in constant crisis since last month's ruinous earthquake and tsunami.
Officials with Tokyo Electric Power Company, which runs the plant, proposed the release of excess water that has pooled in and around the Nos. 5 and 6 reactors into the sea. But most of the dumped water -- 10,000 tons -- will come from the plant's central waste treatment facility, which will then be used to store highly radioactive water from the No. 2 unit, an official with the power company said.
The water in reactors Nos. 5 and 6 is coming from a subdrain and wasn't inside the building itself, officials said. Tests suggest that groundwater is the source of the contamination in these two units, but they are not certain.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano called the dumping "unavoidable." The liquid was most likely contaminated in the process of trying to cool nuclear fuel rods.
The scope of the dump was staggering.
"For an idea about how much is 11,500 tons, one metric ton is 1,000 kilograms or about 2,200 pounds, which is close to an English ton. Water is about 8.5 pounds per gallon, so one ton is about 260 gallons," said Gary Was, a professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Michigan. "So 11,500 tons is about 3 million gallons. A spent fuel pool holds around 300,000 gallons. So this amount of water is equivalent to the volume of roughly 10 (spent fuel pools)."
It could take 50 hours to dump all the water, Tokyo Electric said.
The dumping of so much radioactive water into the ocean conjures fears of mutated sea life and contamination of the human food chain, but one expert said the radiation will be quickly diluted, minimizing risk.
"What we have to watch is how these materials accumulate in food products and then could be consumed by people," something that can be monitored, said John Till, president of Risk Assessment Corp.
"The ocean is so vast that this material would dilute very rapidly and I wouldn't see any lasting effects at all," he said.
The build-up of water could cause problems around the nuclear facility, which is 240 kilometers (150 miles) north of Tokyo, Edano said Monday.
Authorities have made a priority of dealing with water from the No. 2 unit, some of which has been gushing into the sea through a crack in a concrete shaft.
"The radioactivity level is very high near the No. 2 reactor, and we know this. We have to stop the leak as early as possible to prevent this from going into the sea," Edano said. "The radioactivity level is much less in the water from the Nos. 3 and 4 units."
Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency officials said Monday night that the hope is that pumping out the No. 2 reactor turbine plant will lower the water level enough that contaminated liquid won't be able to reach the sea.
"I am not able to say for certain whether or not this will be the last discharge, but we certainly would like to avoid releasing any such water into the sea as much as possible," agency spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama said.
Officials were still awaiting test results to confirm the water pouring into the ocean is leaking from the highly radioactive No. 2 reactor.
"We don't know clearly, but we feel it is somehow leaking from Unit 2," Nishiyama said. Even if the water is confirmed to have come from the reactor, neither Tokyo Electric nor government officials know how it is making its way from the reactor to the leaking pit, he said.
Once the water is pumped out of the waste treatment reservoir, the agency believes it can safely transfer the water from the basement of the No. 2 turbine plant to the reservoir without further leaks, he said.
Though Japanese officials say the water being discharged is less radioactive than the water now leaking into the sea, its top concentration of radioactive iodine-131 is 20 becquerels per cubic centimeter, or 200,000 becquerels per kilogram. That's 10 times the level of radioactivity permitted in food. But since it's being dumped into the Pacific, it will be quickly diluted, according to Dr. James Cox, a radiation oncologist at Houston's MD Anderson Cancer Center and a CNN consultant.
Reactors No. 1 and No. 3, which have lower levels of water, need to be drained as well. Tokyo Electric's plan is to pump that water to other storage tanks, including some that still need to be set up.
Attempts to fill the 20-centimeter (8-inch) crack outside the No. 2 reactor's turbine building -- on Saturday by pouring in concrete, then Sunday by using a chemical compound mixed with sawdust and newspaper -- were not successful.
Japan dumps thousands of tons of radioactive water into... more
CNN... Submitted by EthicalVegan with no additional comments or opinions
Japan officials: No place to put tainted water from nuclear plant
By the CNN Wire Staff
March 28, 2011 1:53 a.m. EDT
This picture by TEPCO Saturday shows the control room of the second reactor of Fukushima nuclear power plant.
Authorities want to remove radioactive water from the No. 2 unit's turbine basement
There's no place to put the tainted water, an official says
A Japanese official blasts Tokyo Electric for its erroneously high radiation reading
The temperature is rising in the No. 1 reactor, another official says
Tokyo (CNN) -- Japanese officials on Monday worked to determine what to do with highly radioactive water collected at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant as they tackled other problems, including rising temperatures in one of the nuclear reactors.
As of Monday morning, there was no place to put water pooled in the basement of the No. 2 reactor's turbine building, said
Hidehiko Nishiyama, an official with Japan's nuclear and industrial safety agency.
The water has sparked confusion in recent days after the release of alarming -- and ultimately incorrect -- levels of radiation.
That water is giving off radioactivity at a level of 1,000 millisieverts per hour, said an official with the plant's owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co.
This equates to more than 330 times the dose an average person in a developed country receives per year, and four times the top dose Japan's health ministry has set for emergency workers struggling to prevent a meltdown at the damaged plant.
But Tokyo Electric said that figure is a mere 100,000 times normal levels for reactor coolant, not the 10 million times normal reported Sunday.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Monday that the plant's owner cited fatigue among its workers as a reason for the error.
"However, measurement of radioactivity is vital for the safety of the workers there," Edano told reporters. "So such a mistake is not something that should be forgiven or acceptable."
Nishiyama said the plan is to pump tainted water out of the No. 2 turbine building's basement using what he called a condenser. But that apparatus is "almost full," as are several storage tanks nearby.
"So we will first have to empty some of the tanks," he said, without giving a timetable as to when this might occur. "Once that process is over, the puddle would be removed."
While high levels of radiation of water in the Nos. 2 and 3 turbine buildings -- and to a lesser extent in the No. 1 unit -- have been the chief focus of late, they aren't the only problems at the facility, which is 240 kilometers (150 miles) north of Tokyo.
Most of the concerns have centered around the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 units, which were the only ones operating -- and with active fuel rods in their reactor cores -- on March 11. The 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami knocked out backup generators that ran their coolant systems and damaged water pumps at the plant, forcing workers to scramble to prevent a meltdown.
Despite reduced alarms in recent days, Nishiyama noted Monday that the temperature is rising inside the No. 1 reactor.
To address this issue, the flow of fresh water into the reactor core will be further adjusted, the nuclear safety official said.
That water is being directed via a fire truck and temporary electricity-driven pump with a more permanent power generator likely in place by Tuesday.
Authorities plan to also get distinct power sources for the cooling systems for units Nos. 2 and 3. Fresh water is being pumped into those two reactor cores using a fire truck and temporary electricity-powered pumps.
Between Monday and Tuesday, authorities hope to switch from using seawater to fresh water in these three unit's spent nuclear fuel pools, where some fuel rods are also located.
Besides covering and keeping nuclear fuel cool, the fresh water will help flush out salt so the cooling systems can operate better.
The spike in heat at the No. 1 unit could be a sign that nuclear fuel rods are overheating.
If those fuel rods are fully or partially exposed, that could lead to a buildup of pressure that could cause an explosion or the release of more radiation into the air, soil or water.
That's what experts fear has happened at the No. 2 reactor, after high levels of radioactive materials that are biproducts of the nuclear fission process were found in its turbine building's basement.
"The radioactive material that is found in that water is either from the reactor itself or the spent fuel pool," Nishiyama said. "At the moment, we consider that the possibilities are higher that the water is from reactor."
High radiation levels persisted in the Pacific Ocean waters near the seaside power plant, with one monitoring post reporting levels 1,850 times normal on Sunday.
However, Nishiyama said Sunday that it was "not possible" that radioactive water was leaking into the ocean from the plant.
He suggested runoff from the area around the damaged plant might have carried radioactive particles into the ocean, but said no definite source had been identified.
CNN's Whitney Hurst contributed to this report.CNN... Submitted by EthicalVegan with no additional comments or opinions
An island in the Pacific Ocean that situated in the east of China, North and South Korea and Russia is named as Japan. In the direction of North to Japan the East China Sea lies and in the south Taiwan is located. Japan is a word that means ‘Sun Origin’ and sometime it called as a ‘Land from where Sun raises’. The government of Japan is a parliamentary form of government under a constitutional Law. It contains 10th largest population of the world.An island in the Pacific Ocean that situated in the east of China, North and South... more