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Top 5 Facts You MUST Know About Fukushima
Although Fukushima has faded from the mainstream media, its meltdown is still an on-going problem. The nuclear regulator in Japan has leveled up the threat rating of a new leak of radioactive materials at this inoperable plant from one point to three.
As of today, officials say that more than 300 tons of radioactive water has leaked into the ground from a storage tank. This is the first danger increase since the reactor had its meltdown in March of 2011.
A lot has been written about this disaster, and you might be sick of the whole thing, but that doesn’t change that fact that this disaster will eventually affect everyone on this planet.
If you read nothing else, these are top five facts that you MUST know about this terrible disaster and how it will affect you and your family.
1. What Does This Rating Mean?
The scale used by Japan is called the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale, or the INES, and it has been in use since 1990. This seven-point rating system describes the danger and harmfulness of nuclear disasters with the scale ranging from one point for the minor accident to seven points for the major ones. The Nuclear Regulation Authority in Japan assigned the accident in Fukushima to level seven when it occurred in 2011. This new leak, although initially given the rating of one when it first happened, has now been reviewed to level three, which is defined as “serious.” Although this event needs to be confirmed by the United Nations, it implies the release of radiation measured to more than one Sievert per hour. A Sievert is one unit of radiation dose comparable to 50,000 front-view chest X-rays. This means, that the current leakage involves more than 50,000 chest x-rays full of radiation, leaking into the ground, every single hour. Scary stuff to say the least.
2. Is Anything Being Done To Stop The Leak?
Although plant workers have started to take out the soil around the leaking tank and any water still inside of the tank was removed by the end of August, we are merely talking about one tank. There are hundreds of other tanks still there with rubber seals which were designed to last only about five years. Keep in mind that this disaster occurred in March of 2011. Although the company has said that they plan to build more watertight tanks with welded seams, the fact remains that there are still hundreds of tanks with rubber seals designed to fail within a few years.
It will take decades to clean up all the radioactive water — to say the least. Officials are trying to choose between several methods to prevent this contaminated water from flowing into ocean waters. Some of the options include freezing the ground around the entire plant; forcing in the surrounding earth with a jelly-type substance which, when fully hardened, becomes as strong as concrete; or other extreme and costly measures. Even after all that, there is no fully integrated plan which would treat the situation systematically – there are only plans for containment.
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3. Where Is The Leaked Radioactive Material Going?
When the meltdown happened in June 2011, scientists made the measurements immediately and estimated that between 5,000 to 15,000 terabecquerels of radioactive material had reached the ocean. At that moment, the largest threat was coming from the radioactive cesium, though when we are talking about the leaks that go into the earth, radionuclide tritium and strontium create a much bigger threat: Soil can absorb cesium, but cannot absorb the two previously mentioned types.
The plant itself gives the estimation that since this disaster occurred, between 20 and 40 trillion Becquerel’s of radioactive tritium has reached ocean waters. The leakage is still there at the crippled plant, sending out into ocean waters an estimated 300 tons of radioactive water each and every day.
4. How Does This Affect The Sea Life?
Scientists have observed radioactive levels in the water and in sea life since this event occurred. A number of fish species, caught near Fukushima in both 2011 and in 2012, showed levels of cesium that exceeded the limit set for the seafood in Japan, but the cesium levels in most fish have dropped off since 2012, according to both Japanese and American scientists. American scientists believe that fish caught in the sea at least 100 miles away from the coast are safe to eat, but that fish caught near Japan’s coastlines are still unsafe for consumption.
5. Is the Chernobyl Accident Similar To The Fukushima Accident?
The accident in Fukushima in June 2011 is viewed as the most terrible nuclear disaster that happened since Chernobyl breakdown in 1986. Yet, Chernobyl plant has released 10 times more radiation, even though both events acquired seven points on the INES scale.
When it exploded, Chernobyl’s reactor threw the radioactive materials out into the area that affected a broad territory. People continued to live in that land, farmed, and developed cancers. Fukushima’s reactor cores were mainly protected, so a lot of the substances went down to the sea — away from direct human contact. In high risk areas, they quickly evacuated the people and destroyed the food. Although the health risks, say, for 20 years down the road remain to be seen, most governmental agencies, including the World Health Organization, have said that there is little risk outside the 18-mile evacuation zone.
Some people believe that world governments are lying to the public in order to prevent a panic and, of course, this could be true, but it would be difficult to keep a worldwide secret without a single person stating that they know the truth.
One thing that is known, however, is that radioactive water is still leaking from stored containers and from the crippled plant itself a full four years after the accident. These continued tons of lethal radiation being dumped into our fragile ecosphere every single day is a danger that must be contained. This nuclear plant is still unstable, and there are no estimates as to when it will no longer be a threat.
So for those of you who are sick of hearing about Fukushima, we understand. However, for the sake of your health, and the health of your children, be very careful about the seafood you consume, and keep yourself informed on current updates to this disaster. We here at Naturalon will continue to keep you updated and warn you of any impending changes in this disaster.