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Fukishima Springs Water Leak

timothy posted about a year ago | from the thought-it-was-hope-that-springs-eternal dept.

Japan 163

sl4shd0rk writes "The Japanese Fukishima crisis took a turn for the worse this week as it was found a barrier built to contain contaminated water has been breached; a leak defined by 20 trillion to 40 trillion becquerels of radioactive tritium. This is yet another problem on top of a spate of errors plaguing the 2011 nuclear disaster site. Nuclear regulatory official Shinji Kinjo has cited Tokyo Electric Power Company as having a 'weak sense of crisis' as well as hinted at previous bunglings by TEPCO as the reason one cannot 'just leave it up to Tepco alone.' If Nuclear energy is ever to move forward, these types of disasters need to be eliminated."

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163 comments

"Fukushima Springs Water" (5, Funny)

korbulon (2792438) | about a year ago | (#44487375)

"I'd buy that for a doller!"

Re:"Fukushima Springs Water" (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44487827)

"I'd buy that for a doller!"

Step right up! [orau.org] . A time-tested restorer of vitality.

Re:"Fukushima Springs Water" (1)

treeves (963993) | about a year ago | (#44488069)

I was gonna say, is Fukushima Springs some new resort or day spa? Hope they fix the water leak so people can use the bathroom while they're waiting for their bird poop facial. [foxnews.com]

Re:"Fukushima Springs Water" (3, Funny)

lordofthechia (598872) | about a year ago | (#44488445)

is Fukushima Springs some new resort or day spa?

It's a hot springs. Come in and let the steamy hot water melt away all your stress!

Re:"Fukushima Springs Water" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488381)

"Fuck you, shima!"

Re:"Fukushima Springs Water" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488959)

What The Fuku?

Is that "Heavy spring water"?

" these types of disasters need to be eliminated." (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44487405)

Industry doesn't make mistakes, it makes profit. Risk is for the beancounters to calculate and recalculate after the fact.

Re:" these types of disasters need to be eliminate (1)

wmac1 (2478314) | about a year ago | (#44488715)

I was thinking almost the same. Is it possible that the use the leak as a cheaper alternative to gathering/cleaning/storing of those materials?

I wouldn't be surprised. Japanese people proved to be disciplined, ethical and good while their companies (e.g. Tepco) proved to be irresponsible, corrupt and liar.

what's the worst that can happen? (-1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about a year ago | (#44487417)

japan knows better than anyone that a little radiation never hurt anyone and dont worry about the inevitable creation of Godzillas from the radiation because they have Mechagodzilla. [youtube.com]
</sarcasm>

WTF is a 'becquerels?' (4, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44487425)

Can we just start measuring radiation in Rads now? Sure would make things simpler to explain...

becquerels == ORads (Outbound Radiation)

sieverts == IRads (Inbound Radiation) or ARads (Absorbed Radiation)

Or just "Rads" as a general term, i.e. "the leak is dumping 20-30 billion Rads into the ecosystem / Nobody can absorb that many Rads and survive! / Background radiation at 2,500 Rads, sir."

Using terms that the layman can hardly spell, let alone understand, isn't helping to raise awareness. Kinda the opposite.

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (3, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#44487497)

It's French! How do you think it got this outrageous accent?

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (0)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44487567)

It's French! How do you think it got this outrageous accent?

Hmm, that would explain the smell...

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44487549)

French words are too big for me! Everybody just change the internationally recognized system of measurements into dimensions and terms that are easier to spell; but I still won't understand because I am too lazy to attempt to learn anything!

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44487641)

All we need to do is change all the units of measurement to refer to McDonald's hamburgers, super-size drinks, boxes of fries, and temperature of coffee. Then the Americans would understand it.

Well... no, it wouldn't, it'd just make a splinter group of Taco Bell separatists. And we'd be right back where we started.

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (2)

washort (6555) | about a year ago | (#44487813)

you left out football fields and Libraries of Congress.

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about a year ago | (#44489481)

Three supersized happy meals of plutonium?

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44487559)

They use the becquerel in the news because it gives much larger units than the curie. It's not as nice a headline if they said Fukishima had released 1100 curies of radiation. PS you can't measure contamination (becquerels) as radiation (sieverts) they are two different but related animals.

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (4, Insightful)

Shimbo (100005) | about a year ago | (#44488185)

They use the becquerel in the news because it gives much larger units than the curie. It's not as nice a headline if they said Fukishima had released 1100 curies of radiation.

Becquerel is the standard SI unit; the BBC would generally use those unless the non-standard unit is widely used. Although quoting GBq or TBq rather than the big scary numbers would be best IMHO.

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (2)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about a year ago | (#44488771)

A becquerel is the breakdown of A SINGLE atom per second. News reports have standardized on the becquerel because the numbers are so much larger and more impressive. Just the background radiation going on inside you and I and each of us is about 4500 Bq. And yes, any one of those Bq going off inside you at exactly the right place and time could have a mutagenic effect on your offspring.

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44487631)

Rads doesn't work, Becq's are per unit of mass, usually kg.
It's not about how it's counted, this is an estimated figure.

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (5, Interesting)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about a year ago | (#44487669)

Using terms that the layman can hardly spell, let alone understand, isn't helping to raise awareness. Kinda the opposite.

Actually, the Becquerel is probably the easiest measure of radiation to understand: It's simply one decay per second.

No arbitrary scale factors based on grams of some rare element that most people have never even seen, and no complicated biological models. Just decays per second.

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (1)

Dynedain (141758) | about a year ago | (#44487957)

It's an easy technical measure, but horrible for expressing meaning. I read up on the definition of a becquerel, and while I get it, I still have no basis of understanding what 20-30 billion becquerels means.

Plus, even in the explanation page, it seems that the becquerel is usually expressed with per-volume or per-weight measure. So using the unit by itself is useless to the lay person. How many becquerels to the banana?

It sounds to me someone used this unit with the express intent of making it sound big and scary, and that's disingenuous even if accurate.

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (1)

Gareth Iwan Fairclough (2831535) | about a year ago | (#44488685)

It's an easy technical measure, but horrible for expressing meaning. I read up on the definition of a becquerel, and while I get it, I still have no basis of understanding what 20-30 billion becquerels means.

Plus, even in the explanation page, it seems that the becquerel is usually expressed with per-volume or per-weight measure. So using the unit by itself is useless to the lay person. How many becquerels to the banana?

It sounds to me someone used this unit with the express intent of making it sound big and scary, and that's disingenuous even if accurate.

Basically, it means "Big scary number that isn't necessarily something to worry about".

The anti nukes seem to love bigging up the true technical measures by splitting them into smaller units (i.e. turning 1Sv into 1000 mSv). Exaggeration without actually exaggerating anything. It's rather clever actually.

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (3, Informative)

Shimbo (100005) | about a year ago | (#44489101)

>

The anti nukes seem to love bigging up the true technical measures by splitting them into smaller units (i.e. turning 1Sv into 1000 mSv). Exaggeration without actually exaggerating anything. It's rather clever actually.

You're reaching a little here; you have a point with the trillion Bq thing but doses are usually quoted in mSv, because it's a convenient size. 1mSv is the recommend maximum annual dose for members of the public, for example. I don't see quoting doses in mSv as any more unusual than an engineer giving a length as 1200mm.

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (3, Informative)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about a year ago | (#44488797)

Plus, even in the explanation page, it seems that the becquerel is usually expressed with per-volume or per-weight measure.

For radiation release events like this, it's simply the overall amount released for the whole event. You don't need per volume or weight.

The per volume amount will eventually depend on how much the contamination gets diluted, but that's location dependent and probably unknown right now.

It sounds to me someone used this unit with the express intent of making it sound big and scary, and that's disingenuous even if accurate.

More likely, they used it because it's a standard SI unit, unlike the curie. Using curies would be more like quoting distances in furlongs because you think that meters sound "too scary" due to the bigger numbers.

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year ago | (#44487963)

Also, we should stop using this complicated "ASCII"; good old binary is much simpler.

Sometimes layers of abstraction are necessary to make sense of things. How much exactly is 1 beq, in terms of health effects? This is where "complicated biological models" are a lot more useful.

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about a year ago | (#44488659)

How much exactly is 1 beq, in terms of health effects? This is where "complicated biological models" are a lot more useful.

Only if you have a proposed exposure mode, which in this case is all future speculation, and which will inevitably be based on politics as much as on science. The raw number of decays, OTOH, is a relatively precise quantity.

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488713)

Uh, ASCII is a binary encoding.

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488013)

But how do you measure seconds?

(And to follow up that: how do you measure distance?)

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (1)

camperdave (969942) | about a year ago | (#44488497)

But how do you measure seconds?

(And to follow up that: how do you measure distance?)

I click to the stopwatch function on my Timex and press start.

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (1)

djupedal (584558) | about a year ago | (#44487693)

We can sure, but this is Japan we're talking about. Where they have their own earthquake scale, based on destruction of property, meaning if no buildings are in that area, the quake was minimal, regardless, and where you're not counted as a highway fatality unless you die within 12 hours of the accident.

Because safety.

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (4, Insightful)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about a year ago | (#44487753)

Ionizing radiating is a complex subject, thus it has a complex set of measurements that mean specific things.

Dumbing it down doesn't do anyone any good.

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44489563)

Ionizing radiating is a complex subject, thus it has a complex set of measurements that mean specific things.

Dumbing it down doesn't do anyone any good.

Talking above people's heads doesn't either.

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (4, Informative)

pj2541 (600359) | about a year ago | (#44487951)

Actually, this is a relatively small amount of radiation, a Curie is 3.7 * 10^10 becquerels, or roughly 40 billion becquerels, roughly 1/1000 of this leak. If this were a point source, and you were 1 meter away, your dose would be 1000 rem per hour, which would reach a 50% probability of being lethal (300 rem) in roughly 20 minutes. Since it is a disseminated source, and there's no one anywhere close to that near it, I'd say this is pretty much overblown hype. I used to work in the radiation measurement industry, and the preceding is pretty much quick and dirty shortcuts (ignoring quality factors and the conversion to rads, for instance,) but it's close enough for government work.

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (1)

Meeni (1815694) | about a year ago | (#44488943)

The chemical form of these release also matter. That changes completely how they will come back in the food chain later down the road.

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (1)

Remus Shepherd (32833) | about a year ago | (#44488187)

I like this idea, because we can then begin developing products like Rad-X and Radaway.

Alternate Solution (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about a year ago | (#44488209)

Can we just start measuring radiation in Rads now? Sure would make things simpler to explain...

Given that it's Japan, how about expressing it in units of Gojira. Or possibly monkey barrels.

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488739)

Using terms that the layman can hardly spell, let alone understand, isn't helping to raise awareness. Kinda the opposite.

I just went through airport security for the first time in a decade.

The machine was labelled, "Millimeter Wave Scanner"

I wonder how calm the line would be if it said,

"Microwave Scanner".

The party I was with opted for hand search when I told them how it worked. Otherwise, clueless like the rest.

Re:WTF is a 'becquerels?' (2)

Nemyst (1383049) | about a year ago | (#44488827)

Except the rad is a deprecated, non-SI unit. The most useful unit for humans is the sievert (Sv), since it describes the effective absorbed dose regardless of source. 1Sv of alpha radiation does the same damage (give or take, obviously) as 1Sv of gamma radiation to the human body. It's a much more complicated value to compute (since it takes into account all those elements mentioned and more), but it's also much better to use as a comparison. The gray (Gy) is an absorbed dose measurement, which doesn't take into account biological interactions. Therefore it can be matched to other SI units in the form of 1 J/kg. Sieverts are derived from grays using a quality factor.

By comparison, the becquerel (Bq) can be computed straight from information like the half-life and mass, making it a much more theoretical measurement. It is equivalent to the reciprocal second. From what I gather, the becquerel figure is used because it's an estimate from the quantity and type of radioactive material, as opposed to a measurement done on the field.

Should be Fukushima not Fukishima (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44487427)

Spelling counts

Re:Should be Fukushima not Fukishima (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#44487507)

Spelling counts

Punctuation, not so much.

Re:Should be Fukushima not Fukishima (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44487537)

Only to people that have _nothing_ else.

Re:Should be Fukushima not Fukishima (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44487731)

Romanji isn't an exact science and the rules for it has changed many times.
Regardless, neither Fukushima nor Fikishima is correct but slashdot doesn't really support the correct spelling.

Re:Should be Fukushima not Fukishima (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488637)

Romaji. Not romanji. Romaji.

Re:Should be Fukushima not Fukishima (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488983)

lol wut

The only other choice for fu is hu. Ku is ku and ki is ki; there is no other option for either of them.

This is some excellent trolling though... very subtle, and got to me pretty effectively. You get a 9/10!

Re:Should be Fukushima not Fukishima (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44487929)

Oh Fick!

I know that name (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44487467)

Scott Becquerel was awesome in Quantum Leap, shame he had to sully his name with Enterprise.

Re:I know that name (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | about a year ago | (#44488907)

Scott Becquerel was awesome in Quantum Leap, shame he had to sully his name with Enterprise.

You idiot, that wasn't his name! It was Scott *Blacula* [wikipedia.org] .

Sheesh.

Tepco is suicidal or insanely stupid (4, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | about a year ago | (#44487539)

In principle, I think nuclear power is a perfectly sound idea that can be implemented safely and reliably.

But that's in principle. In practice somehow it turns out to be managed by complete morons that even after getting involved in the center of a huge scandal, still manage to show amazing incompetence and disregard for public safety, even when they know perfectly fine that the whole world is paying attention to them, and is already extremely distrustful.

And this state of affairs doesn't do their own industry any good. It's precisely crap like this what results in the replacement of nuclear with coal.

Re:Tepco is suicidal or insanely stupid (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about a year ago | (#44487685)

Welcome to the real world.

Re:Tepco is suicidal or insanely stupid (2)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44487707)

tl;dr Your two choices are balance and destruction.

Centralise it all, and you'll end up with one massive monolithic corrupt power structure.

Leave it to the market, and each entity will abuse every other in the quest for profit.

Stringently regulate a marketplace in the interests of the country, and everyone except the megalomaniacs and the stupid Is happy.

Re:Tepco is suicidal or insanely stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488429)

Define "interests of the country"

Do you mean interests of the state (i.e the political apparatus, the govt)?
Do you mean the interests of a majority of the people?
What do you mean?

Re:Tepco is suicidal or insanely stupid (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44487909)

Can it be because nuclear energy is not economically and ecologically viable?
If it were, it'd not need enormous amounts of spending, negative economic balance on every fracken scale and require concentrated efforts for the next 5.000 - 10.000 years.

Captcha: saving

Re:Tepco is suicidal or insanely stupid (1, Interesting)

krovisser (1056294) | about a year ago | (#44488119)

Nuclear energy is the most ecologically viable option in existence. The problems with not being able to build shiny, reliable new ones is a governmental and societal problem, not a nuclear one.

Or do you think pumping radioactive coal ash in the air is more ecologically viable?

Re:Tepco is suicidal or insanely stupid (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about a year ago | (#44488377)

Coal pollution 'could' be stopped - we choose not to due to cost.

As this accident demonstrates, nuclear radiation from a failed plant can't be contained very well.

As for ecologically viable? Please, renewables are far and away more ecologically sound. Not quite ready for grid scale yet, but just because nuclear has better 'operational' characteristics doesn't make it 'good' since it will fail at some point. And there's all that waste lying around in spent fuel ponds we still haven't figured out what to do with.

Re:Tepco is suicidal or insanely stupid (1, Informative)

camperdave (969942) | about a year ago | (#44488551)

But we have figured out what to do with it. Bury it in Yucatan. However, once again, government and society have gotten in the way.

Re:Tepco is suicidal or insanely stupid (2)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about a year ago | (#44488889)

Bury it in Yucatan.

I suppose that there are plenty of pyramids available there in which to store it, but don't you don't think that the Mexican drug cartels might dig it up and sell it to The Terrorists?

Re:Tepco is suicidal or insanely stupid (2)

Gareth Iwan Fairclough (2831535) | about a year ago | (#44489231)

Coal pollution 'could' be stopped - we choose not to due to cost.

We don't choose not to, but the people who can choose not to don't. A sad situation.

As this accident demonstrates, nuclear radiation from a failed plant can't be contained very well.

Actually, the vast majority of the radiation from the reactor was contained and most of the material is still inside. I don't know about you, but that tells me that the containment system did it's job pretty well given the circumstances.

here, allow Rod Adams to explain http://atomicinsights.com/more-accurate-headline-would-be-fukushima-containment-worked/

As for ecologically viable? Please, renewables are far and away more ecologically sound. Not quite ready for grid scale yet, but just because nuclear has better 'operational' characteristics doesn't make it 'good' since it will fail at some point.

*Everything* fails at some point to assume otherwise is nothing short of idiotic. But reactors that were licensed 40 years ago are being re-licensed for another 20 years and from what I hear there is little reason why those reactors couldn't go on for another 20 years after that. How long does even the longest lived turbine last? 10 to 15 years? Solar panels? 20 years maybe, assuming that the panel will continue to operate as well as it did when it was first installed, which is absurd.

There's also the matter of reactors being far more predictable than so called 'renewables'. Sometimes pixelpuller, sometimes operational characteristics DO matter. For your beloved 'renewables' the name 'unreliables' may be more apt. Why? Because that's what they are, unreliable.

And there's all that waste lying around in spent fuel ponds we still haven't figured out what to do with.

Uh-huh, so reprocessing hasn't been invented yet? What utter garbage.

http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/te_1587_web.pdf

As I recall (and have mentioned on /. more than a few times) the "'waste' problem" in the US simply did not exist before a certain US president decided on dubious "non proliferation" grounds to halt and ban any further reprocessing research.

Hell, even just sitting there in the pools it's not doing any harm other than wasting away, denying the people the clean, abundant and reliable energy that can be extracted from it!

Nuclear Fission power will always be dangerous.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488467)

As for the choices before humanity. It's not Nuclear Fission vs Coal Power. It's much cleaner than coal Natural Gas vs Nuclear Fission where one has to worry about nuclear waste for thousands of years.

And extremely clean solar (including solar power satellites) vs Nuclear Fission waste. Also Wind and tidal power can replace nuclear fission power.

Furthermore, to deliberately choose a power generating technology knowing that the waste products from it have to be safely stored for thousands of years, when there are vastly safer alternatives, is fundamentally irrational.

Re:Tepco is suicidal or insanely stupid (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488539)

No, I think stacking spent fuel rods on roofs, in leaky casks and in underground caves lying in seismically-unstable area is the way to go.

After all, leaving stacks of deadly poison metals lying around (and increasing their number every year) is most ecologically viable option in existence. Solar, geothermal, wind, ocean wave, etc. are all liberal hippy plots to get us to be jobless, hummus-eating, pot-smoking slackers.

O horns of dilemma on which we are impaled! (4, Insightful)

Medievalist (16032) | about a year ago | (#44489361)

If only there were some options other than nuclear fission and burning brown coal in an open pit!

Oh, wait, there are.

Here in reality, decentralized heterogenous power production would be inherently better for human culture and society, since it has less tendency to create economic disparities [businessinsider.com] large enough to engender wholesale regulatory capture [wikipedia.org] or militarization of power production [g4s.us] , has fewer military vulnerabilities [cfr.org] , and employs more working people gainfully (instead of funneling money to banksters), and would potentially allow a less expensive grid to carry more total power [csicop.org] .

Solar, wind, hydro, and most importantly carbon-neutral biomass energy plants spotted all over the country on a true "smart grid" is the way to go. Solve dozens of social and economic problems while eliminating the pollution caused by burning petroleum.

Incidentally, I'm not the first to figure this out. Nikola Tesla talked about the idiocy of burning limited resources in 1915, before we compounded the problem by building terrestrial fission plants.

Re:Tepco is suicidal or insanely stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488453)

Why aren't the officers and executives in PMITA prison?

Units!! (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44487551)

20 trillion to 40 trillion becquerels of radioactive tritium

OK. This is embarrassing. At least use proper units.

500-1000 Ci of tritium (or Curies).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CANDU#Tritium_emissions [wikipedia.org]
http://www.nuclearsafety.gc.ca/eng/readingroom/factsheets/tritium.cfm [nuclearsafety.gc.ca]

and here is more sensetionalist article, but with some numbers to compare,

http://www.ccnr.org/tritium_1.html [ccnr.org]

COMMENTS ON THE DUMPING OF 3500 CURIES OF TRITIUM INTO THE OTTAWA RIVER FROM THE NPD NUCLEAR POWER REACTOR ON JULY 19 1981

CANDU reactors emit more tritium than the so called massive spill above at Fukushima. Tritium is not very dangerous, especially in water. Even when exposed to tritium, your body has a biological half-life of only about two weeks - you pee it out along with water. Radiological halflife is 12 years so you get the idea.

Today most CANDU start to capture tritium instead of venting it, and then selling it.

Anyway, the story is not a very big story. There is a lot of worse things that could be leaked, like mercury. And mercury tends to poison things for much longer than a few years - just look at the state of oceans today and cry.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minamata_disease [wikipedia.org]

Re:Units!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488521)

Why don't you just give the number in gigacuries? Then the number will be even smaller and nuclear power will finally be proven to be perfectly safe! Remember everyone: a SMALL number means you have used a PROPER unit.

Re:Units!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44489133)

Do you talk about Mercury dumped into the environment from coal in number of atoms or do you belittle that number and use kilograms or grams instead?

The reason to use things like Ci and not Bq, is because normal people can relate to them. It is akin of talking about about grams of sodium in your diet vs. atoms of sodium you consume. Or why we talk in years not megaseconds.

For example, 1 Curie of radioactive material in one place can make you sick over long-ish period of time.

1000 Curies is a dangerous amount - you do not want to be next to that amount for any period of time. 1000 Curies is amount of radiation that exist in things like cancer treatment machines (although those have something like Co in them, not tritium).

If you want to talk about Gigacuries, read the following link. Very informative.

http://www.umich.edu/~radinfo/introduction/natural.htm [umich.edu]

There is over 20,000,000 Ci of tritium in the oceans. Another 500 is not significant to alter concentrations. Now, if we dumped 500,000 every year, that would be cause for concern, but we don't. We keep radiation contained. If only we did that to Carbon or Mercury, we would be able to fish in the lakes we have and there would be no global warming.

Re:Units!! (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | about a year ago | (#44488863)

Yes, because using a deprecated, non-SI unit is better. The article could've said 20 to 40 terabecquerels, but that would've confused people just as much.

once again (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44487593)

repeat after me
ASIAN
QUALITY
STANDARDS

There is no fixing that. They're all obsessed with building low quality crap to honor their families with big profits and no morals or whatever. It's the chinese bullet train crash all over again.

Re:once again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44487845)

Yes, because for the last 50 years or so American engineering has been doing a bang-up job with keeping people safe AND producing quality products. Products like ____________ and _____________ to name a few!

Re:once again (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44488049)

The American electronics industry from Bell Labs to HP was absolutely awesome.

Then short-termism happened, where everyone at the top did just enough to make themselves and their kids rich.

Re:once again (2)

Inconexo (1401585) | about a year ago | (#44487887)

What do you mean, Doc? All the best stuff is made in Japan.

Re:once again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44489011)

They do make pretty good cars I guess, except for the ones that take off uncontrollably and kill folks.

OK, Einstein (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44487649)

" If Nuclear energy is ever to move forward, these types of disasters need to be eliminated."

Since the only way to eliminate the Fukushima disaster is to go back in time and shut the reactor down before the earthquake/tsunami... You had better get cracking on some sort of wormhole technology. Meanwhile, this rather poorly handled disaster still stands in contrast to thousands of combined years of flawless safety in other plants around the world.

Re:OK, Einstein (2)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44487779)

I'd rather see nuclear energy than reliance on oil, but humans have managed to fuck it up on many occasions.

Everything can be made 100% safe in theory, and any disaster can be optmally managed in theory, but in practice every system is designed and implemented by humans, and this must be taken into account at every stage of, well, everything.

Nuclear power must be managed carefully in the interests of the people, IOW strong independent oversight to the exclusion of both unaccountable stagnation (Chernobyl) and regulatory capture (Tepco).

Re:OK, Einstein (3, Informative)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about a year ago | (#44488449)

Everything can be made 100% safe in theory

Theories are nice, but reality is a bit more problematic.

While nuclear risks can be mitigated somewhat as can risks from other sources of power, the problem is what happens when they do fail. Every single other source of power is able to be cleaned up while walking the site in a matter of days. Nuclear makes quite a large area uninhabitable for decades.

Re:OK, Einstein (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about a year ago | (#44488385)

being lucky isn't exactly a selling point.

It's all a conspiracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44487733)

I sometimes think that it's the anti-nuclear crowd who are responsible for the rules, regulations, and maintenance of our nuclear power plants.

New low for editors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44487793)

Fuji is a mountain in Japan. Fiji is an entirely different place.
Fukushima and Fujishima are also different. Every child in Tikyo knows the difference.

It already did (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year ago | (#44487811)

If Nuclear energy is ever to move forward, these types of disast that should've dismantled decadeers need to be eliminated.

Fukushima is an old BWR, nuclear energy has moved quite a lot since then.

nuclear energy will move forward (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44487881)

It's just inevitable that nuclear will move forward. There's enough sovereign states out there, and the properties of some of the new design in terms of safety, waste and non proliferation will lead to someone taking the first step. My guess is India will do thorium first.

I hope that the people who panic over anything nuclear will at least see the wisdom of using next-gen fission to reprocess today's 'waste' into new byproducts that have a much shorter half-life then what we have now.

Privatisation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44487891)

Another example why infrastructure shouldn't be privatised. Companies are too obsessed with profit to care about safety and regulations; thus they cannot be trusted to run something like this safely.

This is especially true when we're talking about biohazards.

Re:Privatisation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44489087)

Biohazards? Are you talking about Anthrax? The CDC handles that stuff.

So, worst case... (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about a year ago | (#44487899)

This is going to add about 0.01% to the world's tritium supply. Which tritium supply represents a very small fraction of the radioactivity we are exposed to daily.

99.9% of which addition will decay away to nothing within the century.

I am singularly unimpressed by the panic.

Re:So, worst case... (1, Insightful)

Sique (173459) | about a year ago | (#44488035)

Hm. Similar argument: Adding 100 grams of sodium chloride to your drink will add about 0.000,000,000,000...1% to the world's sodium chloride supply. But for some reason, it will kill you if you drink it anyway.

Re:So, worst case... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488307)

Is it just me, or are the Slashdot explanations for why Fukushima was not a big deal getting dumber and dumber all the time?

Re:So, worst case... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488615)

I am singularly unimpressed by the panic.

So your plans for winter vacation in Namie are undeterred? Good to know.

Also, how's the sushi this time of year? Planning on reducing your intake or is the thousands of tons of radioactive water pouring into the pacific not a concern?

I mean, sure radioactivity is cumulative, so you'll likely only get pancreatic, lymph or thyroid cancer in your 50s, but who cares, right?

Hire some competent people? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44487915)

Maybe TEPCO should hire some US Navy reactor specialists and nuclear engineering officers. There are bound to be some looking for jobs and they have a nuclear safety record most people would envy.

Wow. 20-40 TRILLION becquerels... (3, Informative)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about a year ago | (#44487921)

...actually means nothing to most readers not in the field. So, some comparisons:

Radioactivity from potassium in an average human body: 4000 Bq.

Radioactivity from potassium in entire human population of Earth: ~30 trillion Bq.

Radioactivity from one kilogram of radium: 37 trillion Bq.

Radioactivity released during Three Mile Island event: 481 thousand trillion Bq.

Radioactivity released during Chernobyl event: 5.2 million trillion Bq.

I'm thinking not to panic just yet.

Re:Wow. 20-40 TRILLION becquerels... (2)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44488099)

I think only strawmen are panicking so far?

Re:Wow. 20-40 TRILLION becquerels... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488579)

Yeah they report it that way because trillion sounds like a lot. On the flip side, I'd actually pay good money for that tritium. Making those cool looking exit signs out of tritium is always fun stuff! Though I'm sure that would come with the condition of filtering whatever else the hell is mixed in with the stuff. :-p

Re:Wow. 20-40 TRILLION becquerels... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488755)

Blind lovers of nuclear are of course going to downplay this. Next time there is a disaster they should break down your door, drag your stupid fat ass out of your house and make you clean it up.

Re:Wow. 20-40 TRILLION becquerels... (1)

camperdave (969942) | about a year ago | (#44488815)

Wrong measurement. Becquerels are a rate: decay events per second. Saying Chernobyl was 5.2 million trillion Bq is like saying that the noise at a Van Halen concert was upwards of 440 Hz.

Re:Wow. 20-40 TRILLION becquerels... (2)

Mt._Honkey (514673) | about a year ago | (#44489187)

It's an appropriate unit of measurement, and also your analogy is off:

Yes, Bq is a unit of rate of decay. So measuring a release in Bq is saying "this is the rate of radiation the stuff is emitting", and that's what you need to know to know if you're getting a dangerous dose over your lifetime. If they said "atoms" or "kg" of material, it would tell you nothing useful by itself. 1 kg of U-238 is virtually harmless because it is so long lived, so it is infrequently emitting radiation, while 1 kg of Co-60 will just murder you.

As for your analogy, measuring the noise at a concert in watts is telling you the rate at which acoustic energy is emitted, and so is analogous to Bq. What you're advocating is equivalent to stating the integrated sound energy of the concert in Joules.

There's no perfect general unit for radiation, because the effect on a person will depend on the dose rate, the dose duration, the damage done by the type of radiation, where the contamination resides and moves over time both in the environment and in your body, etc. Bq is a good first unit for a general idea in this kind of situation.

And still no one has died! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488227)

And still no one has died!

How much radioactive water is leaking? (3, Informative)

camperdave (969942) | about a year ago | (#44488413)

One becquerel is defined as the decay of one atom of a radioisotope per second. So it's a rate. 40 trillion becquerel would be 40 trillion (4*10^13) tritium atoms decaying per second. Tritiated water (T2O) has a molar mass of 22.0315 grams per mole. A mole is 6.022*10^23 molecules. So 6.022*10^23 molecules of T2O has a mass of 22.0315 grams, therefore 40 trillion molecules has a mass of (4*10^13)*22.0315/(6.022*10^23) or 1.46*10^-9 grams. Assuming a density of 1 gram/ml and 1/20th of a ml per drop, we're talking super-heavy water gushing out of this leak at the incredible rate of just under a drop per year.

I don't understand the secrecy (4, Insightful)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about a year ago | (#44488447)

This secrecy is just stupid. Even when the reactor was in full melt down they were saying "Don't worry, everything is fine, nothing to see here." But then the news were announcing the various radioactives that were being detected outside the plant. Those isotopes are only produced by a reactor in meltdown and only get out if the reactor is in full meltdown and is interacting with bits found outside the core. So long before they said how bad it was my Physics 101 was telling me Holy Crap! That reactor is way out of control! Not just "low on cooling water". That was like saying that someone shot through the heart was "Low on circulatory capacity."

Hiding the truth does nothing to help them look good, and in the long term adds to their list of mistakes. But if at this point they come clean with every bit of data people not only would know how far to run (and where not to fish) but a world full of engineers and physicists might contribute something helpful. For example, if they reveal that radioactive and water soluble product X is being produced some guy in the physics department in Argentina might say, "Hey if you put some cheap water soluble Y into the coolant it will not only precipitate product X out of the water solution but it will then absorb neutrons resulting in other stable isotopes of one of the atoms in chemical Y." This might be little known knowledge that the guy learned 20 years ago when he accidentally gummed up the university's reactor 20 years ago.

Also open information allows for people to write better case studies on how(and where) not to build a reactor.

It is just too bad if all this open information makes a few people look bad.

I don't understand if 20 trillion is a lot. (1)

Demonantis (1340557) | about a year ago | (#44489155)

It would be nice to get the numbers in understandable units. I prefer BED which is banana equivelent dose. I can actually picture what that number will mean.

Re:I don't understand if 20 trillion is a lot. (1)

kqc7011 (525426) | about a year ago | (#44489445)

I prefer the dental x-ray dose equivalent. But not the Barium enema dose equivalent.

Crisis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44489307)

1.
a. A crucial or decisive point or situation; a turning point.
b. An unstable condition, as in political, social, or economic affairs, involving an impending abrupt or decisive change.

2. A sudden change in the course of a disease or fever, toward either improvement or deterioration.

3. An emotionally stressful event or traumatic change in a person's life.

4. A point in a story or drama when a conflict reaches its highest tension and must be resolved.

Does it match any of these definitions? No? THEN STOP CALLING IT A CRISIS.

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