Fukushima Radioactive Water “Almost Certainly” From #2 Reactor Core

Kyodo News March 23, 2011 photo of Fukushima I, from security gate of #1 and #2 reactors.

With a spike in radiation levels detected in water pooling at the Fukushima I plant, the air in the Reactor #2 building is reported to be at 1,000 milisieverts an hour — enough to potentially cause acute radiation sickness in an exposed worker over the course of an hour. I believe that would only occur if they were without protective gear, since the 1,000 mSv/hr figure is based on the air.

An Associated Press story said that the Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, hitting the Sunday-morning talk shows in Japan, said that the radiation was “almost certainly” seeping from a reactor core.

That would confirm what has been strongly suspected by officials for a while now — that the containment vessel itself at Reactor #2 was damaged in the hydrogen explosion, not just the containment building.

Higher-than-normal radiation has been confirmed in milk and vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, turnips) and in tap water near Fukushima. Officials distributed bottles of water “to families with infants.”

Here another part of the AP story that’s potentially of additional concern:


Just outside a reactor at the coastal Fukushima nuclear plant, radioactivity in seawater tested about 1,250 times higher than normal, Nishiyama said. He said the area is not a source of seafood and that the contamination posed no immediate threat to human health.



It drives me nuts when news sources report radiation as being “X times normal.” That’s not a measurement. “Normal” varies a lot from situation to situation and site to site. So that’s not a helpful piece of information, especially since it’s unclear whether they mean “water from the sea” or “water IN the sea.” Seawater was pumped in to cool the reactor cores, so the radioactive water that is generating the 1,000 mSv an hour is probably seawater to begin with. If significant radiation has escaped into the sea itself, that’s a whole different thing.

The fact that it was addressed whether the place is a source for seafood leads me to believe that they are definitely talking about radiation in the sea itself.

However, without specifics, “1,250 times normal” is not a useful figure, and without numbers, “posed no immediate threat to human health” is nothing more thanĀ  a platitude.

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