There is an onslaught of war and devastation around the world. The news is overflowing with the riots, killings and revolutions in the middle east, what each and every country has to say about it as well as what Miley Cyrus did and which celebrity is separated from whom!
Overshadowed and largely ignored in all this news is Japan’s time bomb: The Fukushima nuclear plant!
Following a major earthquake in March 2011, tsunami disabled the power supply and cooling of three Fukushima Daiichi reactors.
The peak release of radiation in the sea around Fukushima came about a month after the earthquake and tsunami.
Luckily there were no reported deaths or sickness from the radiation sickness but over 100,000 people had to be evacuated from their homes.
Ocean currents have dispersed the plume over a large area and have even sent the diluted radiation towards the West Coast of the US.
What is happening?
As of October 09, radiation levels in seawater just outside one of the damaged Fukushima reactors spiked this week to the highest level in two years, the operator of the crippled Japanese nuclear plant.
Radiation levels on Wednesday, the day six workers were exposed to highly radioactive water, jumped 13 times the previous day's reading, the highest levels since late 2011.
In the latest incident, a worker mistakenly detached a pipe connected to a treatment system, releasing seven tons of highly radioactive water.
Radiation from water leaking from the facility is mostly confined to the harbor around the plant, officials have said.
In September, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised the International Olympic Committee that radioactive water problems at Fukushima were "under control" and any contamination is limited to the harbor next to the Fukushima plant.
The possibility of contaminated water being leaked can be very serious.
- This could also be extremely dangerous for the marine life and hence a terrible blow to Japan's fishing industry.
In March fish caught close to the Fukushima plant was found to have levels of contamination. Luckily California’s coast, which is bound to get some of this contamination over time, will not be this dangerous and its impact is calculated to be much lesser.
- The vegetation around the area is suffering and the effects are to last a long, long time!
The cleanup involves removal large amounts of soil, leaves and plants from the area, which in itself is an environmental disaster.
- Diseases and deformities related to radiation exposure are bound to spring up.
At least 1,000 sq km of land near Fukushima will be cleaned up when workers power-spray buildings, scrape soil off fields, and remove fallen leaves and undergrowth from woods.
The biggest fear is that however, whether the area will be completely safe and clean is not confirmed!
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What is being done?
Workers are injecting chemicals to harden the ground on the seaside of the Fukushima reactor buildings to prevent contaminated water from flowing out to the ocean. The pressure from pumping chemicals into the ground pushed some contaminated soil out into the port area.
In September, water was being used to cool melted nuclear fuel in three reactor basements, where it became contaminated and then mixed with groundwater seeping down from the hills behind the plant. The site's tanks, basements and pits contain an estimated 338,000 tons of tainted water.
Tepco has been pumping water over the reactors to keep them cool, and storing the radioactive waste water as well as contaminated ground water in ever-growing numbers of above-ground tanks.
Japan has pledged nearly $500m to contain the leaks and decontaminate the radioactive water. Out of this amount, approximately, $32m will be used to build an underground wall of frozen earth around the damaged reactors to contain groundwater flows.
There are also plans to improve a water-treatment system meant to reduce radiation levels.
However, it is to be kept in mind that all this will probably take decades! Also, the technology to be used is so far unproven.
What will eventually be done, if all goes well, is that the water will be filtered, treated and discharged in to the sea. How well, the system will work; will only be proven with time!