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Fukushima Ocean Radiation Won't Quit

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the fish-can't-catch-a-break dept.

Earth 210

mdsolar writes with an update on how the oceans around Fukishima are doing. From the article: " The Fukushima disaster caused by far the largest discharge of radioactivity into the ocean ever seen. A new model presented by scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts estimates that 16.2 petabecquerels (1015 becquerels) of radioactive caesium leaked from the plant — roughly the same amount that went into the atmosphere. Most of that radioactivity dispersed across the Pacific Ocean, where it became diluted to extremely low levels. But in the region of the ocean near the plant, levels of caesium-137 have remained fixed at around 1,000 becquerels, a relatively high level compared to the natural background. Similarly, levels of radioactive caesium in bottom-dwelling fish remain pretty much unchanged more than 18 months after the accident." The article suggests run-off from contaminated land and possibly a leak in the plant itself are to blame for the levels not dropping as expected.

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210 comments

I thought metric solved these issues (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | about a year and a half ago | (#41981891)

Someone needs to check the units on this article!

Re:I thought metric solved these issues (4, Informative)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year and a half ago | (#41981947)

A petabequerel is 10^15 bequerels. Someone didn't check when they copy-pasted the paragraph out of the article. Metric doesn't solve negligence.

Re:I thought metric solved these issues (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982067)

More like somebody didn't understand exponentiation.

Re:I thought metric solved these issues (1)

tolkienfan (892463) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982231)

Nope - it was merely copied and pasted without fixing it properly.

Re:I thought metric solved these issues (1)

Minwee (522556) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982341)

It's worse than that. Even the exponents had been corrected, the summary would state that 16.2 petabecquerels is equal to 10^15 becquerels.

Re:I thought metric solved these issues (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41982429)

Exponentiation is this thing scientists do where they emphasize numbers by making some of the digits smaller.
It just makes them harder to read for us non-nerds, so I always restore the numbers to normal size when I quote them.

Re:I thought metric solved these issues (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983607)

> It just makes them harder to read for us non-nerds, so I always restore the numbers to normal size when I quote them.

I for one thank you, sir. You can't possibly imagine how many times I searched for notes at the bottom of the page, at the end of articles and everywhere, thinking those numbers were indexes to footnotes.

Re:I thought metric solved these issues (3, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982037)

The petabecquerel is an imaginary thing like orgone energy, homeopathy, human reason and Canada.

Obligatory: http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20120326002953/simpsons/images/8/87/Blinky_Art.png [nocookie.net]

Re:I thought metric solved these issues (3, Funny)

Brett Buck (811747) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982083)

Canada, tooi? I thought only Belgium was imaginary.

Re:I thought metric solved these issues (2)

Thud457 (234763) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982885)

hey, watch the potty-mouth!

Re:I thought metric solved these issues (1)

overmoderated (2703703) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982939)

I wish.

Re:I thought metric solved these issues (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983337)

So is Wyoming... seriously have you ever met anyone from Wyoming?

Re:I thought metric solved these issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41982215)

If you have to explain a prefix (here: peta-), don't use it. Since this is Slashdot, the summaries should simply use the ubiquitous "engineering notation:" 1.62E+16 becquerels.

Re:I thought metric solved these issues (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982941)

Not all of us are engineers, and we appreciate (proper) use of SI prefixes.

Re:I thought metric solved these issues (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982949)

... that is unless you're one of those assholes who likes to say a file is 16305067 bytes in length instead of just saying 16.3mb.

Re:I thought metric solved these issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983115)

Well it is nice to be precise.

Re:I thought metric solved these issues (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983165)

One of the more difficult bits of the metric system is that it's case-sensitive. While bits and bytes are not SI units, it is customary to differentiate megabytes ("MB") from millibits ("mb").

Remember also that "K" is short for kelvin, while "k" ("kilo-") is the prefix for one thousand.

Engineering notation vs. scientific notation (2, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983227)

If you have to explain a prefix (here: peta-), don't use it. Since this is Slashdot, the summaries should simply use the ubiquitous "engineering notation:" 1.62E+16 becquerels.

That's just the common ASCII-friendly version of scientific notation; the equivalent in engineering notation would be 16.2E+15 becquerels, as "engineering notation" differs from "scientific notation" in that while the latter uses the smallest exponent which gives a mantissa >= 1, the former uses the smallest exponent divisible by 3 which gives a mantissa >= 1.

Re:I thought metric solved these issues (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983367)

"Engineering notation" would be 16.2E15 becquerels.

mdsolar writes (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41981897)

mdsolar writes

Stopped reading right there. It's the Slashdot equivalent of "An article on Fox news..."

Re:mdsolar writes (1, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982233)

Then you are an idiot. If you read the summary it seems interesting, and TFA backs it up.

Dismissing information out of hand simply because of the source is dumb.

Re:mdsolar writes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41982327)

No, it's Bayesian.

Re:mdsolar writes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41982863)

It's uh... actually Ad Hominem.

Good thing you're posting as AC. No one will ever level such criticism at you, you little scamp! Now scram!

Re:mdsolar writes (0)

Microlith (54737) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982789)

And you're the followup to mdsolar. Two peas in a pod.

Re:mdsolar writes (0, Flamebait)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983025)

Accepting information at face value from an know source of disinformation (mdsolar) is dumb.

It would be like getting political news from MSNBC or Fox. Dumb or pretending to be.

Re:mdsolar writes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41982271)

Exactly. "Radioactive material with half-life of 30 years not gone in 18 Monat, more at 11..."

Re:mdsolar writes (1)

DrJimbo (594231) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982655)

AC wrote:

Exactly. "Radioactive material with half-life of 30 years not gone in 18 Monat, more at 11..."

TFS wrote:

... levels of caesium-137 have remained fixed at around 1,000 becquerels ...

IOW, we would expect levels of caesium-137 (with a half-life of 30 years) to be slowly declining yet measurements show the levels have remained constant. This is a puzzle.

Re:mdsolar writes (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982981)

AC thinks particles go "oh, hey, it's my half-life" and flash into another element.

Isn't the half-life the halfway point between one and the other? And a legitimate question: is the conversion rate constant?

Re:mdsolar writes (5, Informative)

rmstar (114746) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982413)

Stopped reading right there. It's the Slashdot equivalent of "An article on Fox news..."

You are being ridiculous. The article in question was published in nature, which is about as reputable and prestigious as it gets.

Re:mdsolar writes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41982425)

mdsolar writes

Stopped reading right there. It's the Slashdot equivalent of "An article on Fox news..."

Yeah, those clowns have standards too high for "fake but accurate" stories....

Petabecquerels (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41981921)

Thank you for converting petabecquerels to becquerels, that really cleared things up for me.

Re:Petabecquerels (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41982099)

1 becquerel (bq)= 1 radioactive event per second.

To put things in perspective, an 80 kg human produces about 4000 bq, mainly from the potassium in our bodies. So 1000bq does not sound very threatening to me.

Re:Petabecquerels (2, Interesting)

Muad'Dave (255648) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982347)

My source [wikipedia.org] says it's more like 5400 Bq:

"... exposure due to the normal potassium content of the human body, 2.5 g per kg, or 175 grams in a 70 kg adult. This potassium will naturally generate 175 g × 31 Bq/g 5400 Bq of radioactive decays, constantly through the person's adult lifetime."

1000 Bq is about 67 BED (Banana-Equivalent Dose).

Re:Petabecquerels (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983017)

That would matter if we are talking about 1000bq. However, we are talking about 16000000000000000bq. (hence the importance of the peta- prefix)

Re:Petabecquerels (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983589)

Here we go with the confusion from the poorly written article and even poorer copy-paste job. The 1000bq would be referring to "But in the region of the ocean near the plant, levels of caesium-137 have remained fixed at around 1,000 becquerels". What is missing is the volume or weight it's measured in. Since the first part refers to "region of the *ocean*" it's reasonable to assume this is 1,000 bq/liters (or kilograms, plus or minus some fudge factor for cesium-salted ocean weight). For a human shaped hunk of water, at 70kg, this would be 70,000 bq total.

The Doses coefficient for calculating exposure for a group aged > 17 years (Adult persons) which ingested 1 Bq Cs-137 1,3E-08 Sv (This equals 0,000 000 013 Sv/Bq). [ourfood-news.com] Thus, if you drank the 3 liters of recommended water daily from Fukushima sea, besides throwing up a lot and stuff, you'd on a rough estimate gain 1,3 * 10^-8 Sv/Bq * 365 * 3l * 1000 bq/l = 0.014235 Sv or 14 mSv. This is about 10 times the normal background radiation from natural sources in Japan. Of course drinking that much of seawater is impossible, but fish do filter through it, and people eat fish (or animals that eat fish).

I can haz... (4, Funny)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about a year and a half ago | (#41981929)

Godzilla now?

Re:I can haz... (3)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982061)

Nah, the Third Angel, I'm guessing.

Re:I can haz... (1)

Kiaser Zohsay (20134) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982115)

In Japan, Godzilla haz you!

Re:I can haz... (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982145)

But godzilla doesn't have any tentacles!

Re:I can haz... (1)

trum4n (982031) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982441)

But godzilla doesn't have any tentacles!

SQUIDZILLA sure does!

Re:I can haz... (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982867)

It's radioactive, just wait, he'll grow them

People Never Learn From History (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41982433)

History shows again and again how nature points up the folly of man.

Re:I can haz... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41982679)

You mean Blinky?

http://www.redbubble.com/people/tioem/works/7599891-blinky [redbubble.com]

unholy slashdot army (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983097)

I dunno, 50 Roland Piquepailles sounds pretty dire to me.

did they clone him first, then zombify him, or did they zombify him then clone him? Is such a thing even possible? Either way, an abomination against nature.

Radiaton source !Fukishima (1)

Narnie (1349029) | about a year and a half ago | (#41981939)

That's where Japan is hiding its forty-meter battle robots, Godzilla, and crashed alien spaceships.

chernobyl - II (1)

Faisal Rehman (2424374) | about a year and a half ago | (#41981943)

a lesson for pro nuclear.

Re:chernobyl - II (2)

RobertLTux (260313) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982035)

and a counter to that is the US Navy Nuclear program which has not had ANY accidents in its history
(not counting losing material/ ships getting sunk/ deliberate sabotage).

Fukushima was more or less EOL right??? (and the designers drank to much saki when setting the tolerances)

Re:chernobyl - II (4, Interesting)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982185)

Fukushima was more or less EOL right??? (and the designers drank to much saki when setting the tolerances)

Problem is Fukushima is not untypical of nuclear plants in Japan. It was thought to be fine when designed, based on the available knowledge and understanding at the time. It turns out that the earthquake did a fair bit of critical damage even before the tsunami arrived, and you just can't build a plant capable of surviving beyond a certain amount of lateral force/acceleration.

And yeah, the Navy didn't have any major accidents, just a few minor ones. The US military as a whole though is a catalogue of fuck-ups. No civilian nuclear programme in the entire world is free of serious accidents.

Re:chernobyl - II (4, Interesting)

tp1024 (2409684) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982397)

It was thought to be fine exactly until 1972, when the first studies revealed that the BWR Mark I was insufficient in case of a meltdown. That was before reactor #2 was even finished. It was definitely included in the 1975 WASH-1400 report. This report also said that floods and tsunamis are a major danger to a nuclear power plant and must be protected against.

The Japanese did nothing about either of those points, they didn't train their staff to handle emergency situations in a station blackout. They didn't do anything remotely compatible with European or American standards to ensure availablitity of emergency power. They didn't equip their containments with filtered vents, which have been implemented in Europe since 1988. They didn't equip the containment buildings with hydrogen recombiners - those were only required by law in 2012 in Japan. In Germany (and probably other countries as well) those are required since 1993.

Tokai and Onagawa were perpared for and hit by the tsunami without major damage. The problem was known, countermeasures were known, non were required by law.

How do you say "It's your own damn fault!" in Japanese?

Re:chernobyl - II (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41982913)

How do you say "It's your own damn fault!" in Japanese?

LMGTFY [bit.ly]

Re:chernobyl - II (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983059)

FYI, the word is 'atypical' - not that it matters to your point any, just wanted to drop the correction somewhere.

Re:chernobyl - II (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982475)

They tolerances where fine. The problem is a private company did not want to pay to dispose of the material when they where supposed to.

Re:chernobyl - II (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41982791)

For the Navy, money and personell in not a factor. Maybe that has changed or slowly changing now but the engineering was already done and the operating procedures and safety measures are already in place. I used to be in the Navy as a reactor operator back in the mid 90's on an older sub. There was not much automation and technology in use back then. The only thing that had a microporessor was the reactor protection and alarm system and it was an 8088. All controls, sensors, and gauges were mechanical and/or discrete electronic and electric. All procedures, actions, limits, and methods of operation were in print form in the reactor plant manuals and scaled down copies of those were embedded in your brain through training. It is my understanding that the nuclear training pipeline has got "easier" for folks going through now. Much less demanding and a much higher percentage of people that start actually make it to the end. The Navy now relies less on the operators and more on the supervisors and technology than they did before. Maybe that is good in that it minimizes the human error part of it or maybe that is bad as the human error factor gets shouldered or concentrated onto less people instead of spread across everyone as a collaborative effort. Having an exceptional DEEP understanding of everything coupled with technology and strong supervision would be the most ideal but I guess there aren't enough people that can make it to meet that demand.

Re:chernobyl - II (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41982959)

Really, is this the best you can do? "The US Navy Nuclear program which has not had ANY accidents in its history (not counting when they did)."

Re:chernobyl - II (1)

Jeremi (14640) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982995)

and a counter to that is the US Navy Nuclear program which has not had ANY accidents in its history

It's probably not a coincidence that the US Navy is also a not-for-profit institution, and therefore has only minimal incentives to cut corners.

bullshit (2)

edxwelch (600979) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983137)

The only reason US NAvy appears to have no accidents, is because of lack of transparancy and military secrecy.
For instance, in 22 May 1978 500 gallons of "hot" radioactive water escaped from the USS Puffer's primary coolant system into a shipyard.
http://oc.itgo.com/kitsap/nuclear/clymer.htm [itgo.com]

Re:chernobyl - II (4, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983405)

And yet nuclear still manages to be very much environmentally preferable to coal, even after taking such accidents into account!

Not unexpected (4, Informative)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year and a half ago | (#41981957)

It is expected to take the better part of this decade to even get at where the leaks are coming from, let alone stop them. The problem isn't going away any time soon.

Re:Not unexpected (2)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982141)

That's ok, in 10 years from now 80% of the Cs-137 will still remain to find where the leak comes from. Lucky us.

What may be expected? (1)

j-stroy (640921) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982339)

If these measurements of what HAS leaked are a concern, what of potential future risks of a greater magnitude?! Around Reactor 4 there is "unequal ground sinking of 0.8 meters" [enenews.com] let alone how that projects over decades. Unit 4 is the one with a full core, etc in its top floor fuel pool and the same one that was photoshooped in an official release. [psdisasters.com]

Re:What may be expected? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983155)

Was it ever figured out what was hidden in that shopjob? Did they ever make a statement when it was called out?

Uhh, yeah check the units (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41982031)

Oh boy, where to start. 16.2 peta [wikipedia.org] bequerels is NOT 1015 bequerels. Caesium-137 [wikipedia.org] is NOT a naturally occurring isotope, thus it's impossible to have a natural background of Caesium-137. I think that's enough for starters.

Re:Uhh, yeah check the units (1)

tolkienfan (892463) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982275)

That stuff was copied from the article.
1015 actually had the "15" in superscript, so it represented 10^15.
The comment about "background" probably refers to natural background radiation rather than natural background Caesium-137, although it's written badly enough that it isn't clear.

Re:Uhh, yeah check the units (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41982721)

Regardless, bad original is no excuse to repeat the drivel in summary. I could decipher the meaning of those two statements, but I'm sure most random readers couldn't. Those are far from the only problems with the article, of course, I just stopped there. Another thing already pointed out is that "remained fixed at around 1,000 becquerels" makes no sense without the volume or even weight specified. There's certain to be more than 1,000 bequerels in the Pacific total!

Another issue is that according to the nuclear company TEPCO the atmospheric release during first three weeks alone [reuters.com] was 900 petabequerels. About half [examiner.com] of it was Iodine-131 [wikipedia.org] with half-life of 8 days leaving 360 petabequerels for Cesium (over 4 times Chernobyl's Cesium release) and quite where the article came up with "roughly the same amount that went into the atmosphere" isn't clear.

But, all this is enough to make the average person's head rotate around like in Exorcist, so better not get too detailed. The bottom line is the article is factually incorrect gibberish and the summary only makes it worse.

Russia dumped into Artic Sea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41982055)

Russia dumped more radioactivity in Arctic Sea. Nuclear waste. Google it , no time right now. Articles says it was the MOST. Sorry

Impossible!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41982063)

According to the armchair physicists that post on Slashdot that type of nuclear accident is impossible, so it must not have happened.

More than the Bikini Atoll tests? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41982095)

I have a hard time believing the first sentence given all the nuclear weapon testing we've done in the Pacific.

Re:More than the Bikini Atoll tests? (1)

scorp1us (235526) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982235)

Mod parent up. I want an answer to this too.

Re:More than the Bikini Atoll tests? (4, Informative)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982557)

Short version is that weapons are optimized to use the absolute minimum fissionable material and reactors are optimized for an engineering reasonable heat flux per sq meter.

The cost of building an ICBM to carry something "just 500 pounds heavier" is enormous. The motivation to make weapons lighter is intense.
On the other hand PWRs need to keep heat flux low enough to not boil at a sane flow rate, and BWRs REALLY need to stay in nucleate boiling mode. This means a reactor is insanely heavier than a weapon.

A normal human can pick up a modern weapons physics package. Well you have to be in .mil and lift weights occasionally, not your average people of walmart. But the point is the fun stuff is pretty light. A reactor core is made out of hundreds of modules each of which requires a rather heavy crane to lift individually.

Another way to put it is if you want to light it off, it needs well under 100 pounds of the fun stuff. But if you want to reliably extract a gigawatt or so for a couple decades, there's some thermodynamic and materials science reasons that ANYTHING that can transfer a GWt over the long term is gonna be tons. Doesn't matter if the heat came from U or Pu or coal, its gonna take tons of metal to reliably transfer that heat into water. Kinda like if you wanna fire, a match isn't all that big, but a GW class coal electrical power plant, which also uses fire, is really heavy.

Re:More than the Bikini Atoll tests? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983167)

Not to mention - the more of that material that is released as energy the better, from a weapons perspective. A proper warhead wouldn't spew heavy elements all over the place.

Re:More than the Bikini Atoll tests? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983355)

That's bullshit nukes weight hundreds of megatons!

Re:More than the Bikini Atoll tests? (5, Informative)

careysub (976506) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982569)

The lead-in sentence is certainly incorrect in its current, broad brush form. Immediately after a nuclear explosion the decay of short lived isotopes creates levels of radioactivity astronomically higher than a leaking civilian power plant. But those short lived isotopes rapidly disappear. Eventually you just have long-lived isotopes with half-lives of decades or longer.

Nuclear power reactors burn-up an astonishing large amount of fuel. The biggest fission yield of any nuclear test was no more than 15 megatons, which is the energy equivalent of 880 gigawatt-days (thermal) of nuclear reactor operation. Fukushima Da-ichi produced 29,891 gigawatt-days of power a year, a number 35 times larger. The amount of long-lived radioactivity (i.e. what you have left after several weeks) in Fukushima far exceeded any nuclear weapon.

1000Bq per WHAT? (5, Insightful)

tp1024 (2409684) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982113)

Per kg, per cubic meter, per cubic foot?

If the writer of an article is incapable of determining how to write meaningful data, the article isn't worth anything at all. (S)He's just a parrot of whoever wrote the original and has no understanding of what this is about.

Re:1000Bq per WHAT? (3, Insightful)

tp1024 (2409684) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982225)

Also, is it even water we're talking about or is it the ocean floor?

Fuck everything about the "news coverage" of Fukushima.

There is ZERO information you can gain from such rubbish that those retards keep puking out into the public even if you know what you're talking about. This isn't even propaganda, it's worse, it's just ignorant drivel designed to say something against nuclear power, by people who don't know the least what they are takling about, just what they want to be talking against.

Re:1000Bq per WHAT? (2)

Crispy Critters (226798) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982531)

The rest of the article refers to contamination levels in Bq/kg, which seems to be the standard unit for this. The level 1000 Bq/kg is not tremendously high, as it is only a few times larger than safe limits for human consumption of cesium-contaminated water (which hopefully are conservative). (And writers who don't know the difference between "rem" and "rem per hour" are even worse.)

Re:1000Bq per WHAT? (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982809)

But is it "the ocean" or is the in fact the ocean floor - which would be much more plausible, as the water should have long been diluted to much lower levels.

Not if you knew about ocean dumping (2)

kriston (7886) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982399)

You might think that the Fukushima disaster "caused by far the largest discharge of radioactivity into the ocean ever seen," but not if you weren't already aware of the over five decades' worth of ocean dumping of atomic waste.

Honestly.

Re:Not if you knew about ocean dumping (2)

geekoid (135745) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982523)

Since is says 'largest discharge', they are talking single event, not cumulative.

It still might not be true, but you shoudl be applying 5 decades of dumping.

Seaweed safe to eat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41982445)

A lot of edible seaweed comes from the ocean in the Asia-Pacific region. Seaweed is a great absorber of iodine (including radioactive iodine dumped from Fukushima). Since Fukushima is still dumping radiation, is the seaweed in the Pacific ocean continuing to be contaminated?

Re:Seaweed safe to eat? (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982493)

There is about 0.0000000000000000015% of the I-131 left that was originally emitted. In short: no.

Re:Seaweed safe to eat? (2)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982803)

LOL the "one week or so" half life of I-131 explains why civil defense and .mil stockpiles only contained at most a month or two's iodine tablets to protect against thyroid cancer.... its just not a credible concern after a couple months.

Thats the cool thing about nuclear waste... 100% of the arsenic that came out of the smokestack of the coal plant "nearby" my house is still in the lake where the city gets its drinking water... oops. However virtually all the radioactive iodine the nuke plant "nearby" my house has ever made has long since decayed into irrelevance.

Re:Seaweed safe to eat? (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982923)

Operational risk != Disaster Risks

Both are bad, the former 'can' be prevented. The latter, not so much...

Re:Seaweed safe to eat? (4, Informative)

Luckyo (1726890) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983293)

The latter can be prevented, but costs for plants that burn stuff are pretty steep. My father works for a burner-based power plant manufacturer (I've seen them make stuff ranging from burning coal to burning trash to burning the weird ass crap which is about 30% oil and 70% crushed rock), and one of the things he did was handle certification and maintenance of the new plants across EU that had to comply to rigorous norms.

For example, the main cause of acid rains of the past, SO2 and NOx emissions are currently ZERO on some modern burner plants. Reason for this is extreme degree of burning process control (i.e. they can create burning conditions where certain gasses do not form, instead burning process forms far less harmful gasses such as CO2). Particles nowadays can be handled by filters which also have near-100% efficiency for particles they're responsible for. Basically they get particles out of the exhaust air and store it in a solid form which is then taken away to the appropriate dump.

This stuff is really expensive though, so only new plants get the appropriate upgrades due to rigorous standards applied to them. Older plants still crap on the environment, same thing as old nuclear plants being far more risky when major disaster occurs then new ones.

Re:Seaweed safe to eat? (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983377)

Never said it was cheap or 'easy'. We just choose to not spend that kind of money because the damage is spread out over hundreds of square miles and decades.

But it 'can' be prevented. Not so much the effects of a nuclear disaster.

Re:Seaweed safe to eat? (1)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983121)

0.0000000000000000015%

Actually 1/1000 times of that (2^(-606/8))*100%.

Re:Seaweed safe to eat? (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983203)

True, for some reason I estimated about 500 days since March 11 last year.

1000 becquerel isn't that much (4, Informative)

Henriok (6762) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982521)

1000 bq isn't that much. It might be much compared to the background radiation but to put it in context, recommended values in Sweden after Chernobyl is to not eat meat that radiates more than 1500 bq/kg. This radiation comes from Cesium-137 that mostly rained down over us. And 10 years after we could still kill game (mostly moose) with in excess of 4000 bq/kg. Many residential houses stand on granite that contains radon, and the limits for radiation from radon was 1000 bq/m^2,until 2009 when the EU lowered the limit to 200 bq/m^2. So.. We in Sweden lived with this kind of radiation for quite some time and we don't really consider this a problem. The halflife of Cesium-137 is about 30 years so the radiation is dropping steadily but slowly.

Re:1000 becquerel isn't that much (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983317)

This is a common issue across Fennoscandia, which sits on the world's oldest rock. We have a lot of uranium deep in the crust and radon gas that fills basements comes from its natural decay.

It's one of the main reasons why most building permits nowadays require proper ventilation of basement levels. Radon in miniscule amounts as it seeps in is essentially harmless, but it tends to concentrate in unventilated areas.

Re:1000 becquerel isn't that much (3, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983507)

1000 bq isn't that much.

It is if you have an anti-nuclear agenda to push. Which many people do, for whatever reason.

Just won't quit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41982541)

That's dolomite, baby!

Russain Response??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41982625)

I mean the Russians at least moved quickly to cover up what happened and in doing so prevented a lot of further radiation leaks. Yes, I realize people were exposed to higher levels of radiation then is or even was considered safe in the clean up. But unfortunately the needs of the many do out way the needs of the few. It's better to expose a statistically insignificant amount of people to high radiation levels then to allow a large radiation leek to poison everyone on the planet. I think Japan has enough people who are proud of their country and willing to shave a few years off their lives to protect the world. Also, I wonder what effect temporary exposure to radiation has on older people considering it takes decades for radiation induced cancers to show up.

  I think the real problem here is political, People think it would be cruel to allow people to volunteer for a possible suicide mission but when the problem is of this magnitude it's crazy not to. Something has to be done soon, even though we know with more time and planing it could be done cheaper and with less risk to life. But time adds more risk in it.

Re:Russain Response??? (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982861)

The Russian cover didn't really help and had to be rebuilt and arguably still isn't very good. What would work is picking up the plant and moving it far inland, but that's a bit impractical. Most of the "armchair engineer" ideas are about as useful as the armchair engineer solutions for the gulf of mexico oil leak, in other words they would not work or would make the situation worse.

Re:Russain Response??? (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983351)

Considering that Chernobyl had working reactors sitting next to the one that melted down up until 2000 I'd say that it worked good enough. And closure wasn't for technical reasons at all - it was a political decision taken under heavy pressure from EU.

What it wasn't good for was long term containment, because it was eroding faster then planned.

Storage for Nuclear Weapons Program? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41982689)

Perhaps Fukushima was also being used to store plutonium for Japan's nuclear weapons program? Could be a much bigger mess to clean up than what is known publicly...

why? because it's still leaking... (4, Informative)

edxwelch (600979) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982745)

It's no surpise that the sea is radiactive. Since the accedient there have been a series of leaks from the jury-rigged water purification setup:
December 2011
45 tons of water heavily contaminated with radioactive strontium escaped, of which 150 liters of water found its way into the ocean through a ditch connected with the beach
26 March 2012
80 litres radioactive water seeped into the ocean
5 April 2012
12.000 liters water with high levels of radioactive strontium escaped through a nearby sewer-system into the ocean

On top of that the contaminated water lying in the basements is leaking into the ground water and out to the ocean. TEPCO are building a wall to contain that, but it won't be finished until 2014.

Not credible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41982929)

"Largest release of radioactivity into ocean ever"? Really? Larger than oceanic atomic weapons tests? Coal plants put far more radioactivity into oceans than Fukushima and Chernobyl combined.
http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/rev26-34/text/colmain.html

It does not make sense. (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983113)

It does notmmake sense to compare background radiation with polution from a nuclear desaster.
Background radiation is basically caused by stone and radon, bouncing of from yur clothes or skin. In case of radon you inhale it and exhale it and radiation hits the surface of your lung.
Polution from a nuclear desaster has dozens or hundrets of isotopes that get build into your metabolizm. That means your inner organs ore more precisely your cells get radiated and destructed from the inside.
That all has nothing to do with 'becquarelle' but how and where they are 'emitted' or in this case received.

Re:It does not make sense. (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983625)

And that's why there is that concept called absorbed effective dose used to measure the biological effect of radioactivity (in sievert) - natural or otherwise. And using those, there is no question that Finland and Sweden must be evacuated in order to comply with the WHO rules setting a limit of 350mSv of absorbed effective lifetime dose, as the average there is 7mSv and 6mSv per person per year on average.

Don't worry, it will decay eventually (1)

davidwr (791652) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983313)

With a half-life of about 30 years we should see rates falling from 250x acceptable levels to acceptable levels in another 250 years or so, if ocean current don't disperse it first.

largest ever? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983621)

The Fukushima disaster caused by far the largest discharge of radioactivity into the ocean ever seen.

Does that include the radioactivity released from weapon testing?

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