Fukushima update, 9/4/13

In the New York TImes there is a report that:

The biggest public criticism has involved the government’s decision to leave the cleanup in the hands of Tepco, which has seemed incapable of getting the plant fully under control. Each step Tepco has taken seems only to produce new problems. The recent leaking tank was one of hundreds that have been hastily built to hold the 430,000 tons of contaminated water at the plant, and the amount of that water increases at a rate of 400 tons per day. On Wednesday, nuclear regulators said radiation levels at other spots near the tanks had risen, suggesting the possibility of other, still undetected, leaks.  Critics complain that the government-run committee that has overseen Tepco’s cleanup is loaded with nuclear industry insiders and overseen by the trade minister, Toshimitsu Motegi, whose ministry is in charge of promoting nuclear power. They say Japan may be able to come up with better, more sustainable plans if it opens the process to outsiders like Japanese nonnuclear companies and foreigners.

     There has been some discussion of who might help.   Some people think that the Russians should be consulted, because of their work at Chernobyl.   Others think that the US has the expertise and remarkably cite Hanford, one of the big disasters that is currently threatening the water along the Snake River.

Japan is now making a bid for the 2020 Olympics, and wants to impress the International Olympic Committee that the problems are under control.

Meanwhile, a report in Reuters (h/t my brother Tim)  that the radiation levels near one of the hundreds of tanks

showed radiation as high as 2,200 millisieverts (mSv), the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) said on Wednesday. The previous high in areas holding the tanks was the 1,800 mSv recorded on Saturday.  Both levels would be enough to kill an unprotected person within hours. The NRA has said the recently discovered hotspots are highly concentrated and easily shielded.

These are the tanks that were bolted together and expected to last five years.

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