Friday, November 17, 2017

Radioactive Waste: Everywhere with Nowhere to Go

NHK is reporting that Fukushima's radioactive waste will begin to be transported to a new location in Fukushima Prefecture:
Disposal of radioactive waste begins in Fukushima
The first batch of radioactive waste from the 2011 nuclear accident has arrived at a final disposal site in Fukushima Prefecture.  Containers filled with radioactive ash were delivered by trucks to the facility in Tomioka Town on Friday and placed on the site with cranes. The ash consists of incinerated debris and other waste produced near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
If you are interested in how Japan is planning on handling the mountains of radioactive waste produced by the Fukushima disaster see the following very interesting and detailed analysis by Nagasaki:
Shinya Nagasaki (2015). Radioactive Waste Management After Fukushima Daiichi Accident. Springer Link

It is interesting to read how nuclear waste is designated. The determination of whether something counts as waste is based on cesium134 and cesium 137 readings combined (p. 299). That means that only two radioisotopes among the 1000 produced by the disaster are being directly measured and managed.

It is also interesting to think about the limits of waste surveillance and management. Japan will not be able to decontaminate most of the fallout that occurred in forests and on mountains.

Moreover, fallout outside of Japan is not subject to any de-contamination and only random surveillance by academics whose findings of contamination in places like Hawaii and Alaska are coded as non-significant despite very clear readings of cesium contamination:
McKenzie T1, Dulai H2. Fukushima-derived radiocesium fallout in Hawaiian soils. J Environ Radioact. 2017 Dec;180:106-113. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2017.10.003. 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2017.10.003

[excerpted from abstract]  This study estimated the magnitude of cesium deposition in soil, collected in 2015-2016, resulting from atmospheric fallout.  Detectable, Fukushima-derived 134Cs inventories ranged from 30 to 630 Bq m-2 and 137Cs inventories ranged from 20 to 2200 Bq m-2....
It also examined the patterns of cesium wet deposition with precipitation observed on O'ahu and the island of Hawai'i following the disaster.  Fukushima-derived cesium inventories in soils were related to precipitation gradients, particularly in areas where rainfall exceeded 200 mm between March 19 and April 4, 2011.
Cesium was not the only contaminant to reach foreign shores.

Research by Armstrong et al., indicates that use of salt water to cool the reactors likely produced spherical, uranium peroxide clusters.[i] These clusters, described as buckyballs, have highly durability and transportability. Another study found evidence of Sulfur-35 (35S) in sulfate aerosol thousands of miles away in southern California from 20-28 March 2011.[ii] The researchers concluded that neutron leakage transformed salt water chlorine (35Cl) into radioactive 35S through a process of multistage decay. Fukushima contamination may have spread more widely across the northern hemisphere because of the composition and durability of the radioactive aerosols produced. A U.S. Geological Survey published in 2012 documents evidence of wet deposition of fission products in the U.S. [iii]

Radioactive waste management is indeed a very selective governance process.

The radioactive waste produced through human engineering is everywhere, including our bones and organs where they bioaccumulate.

My conclusion is that decision-makers have simply written off the future viability of humanity and now operate charade-like to manage only the most visible and extreme forms of environmental contamination that theaten human longevity, transgenerational integrity, and the viability of the eco-system upon which we depend. The Trump Administration has set new precedents in writing off humanity.

Fukushima was looking a bit worse this morning on the TEPCO 1 webcam around unit 2:


[i] C. Armstrong, M. Nyman, T. Shvareva, G. Sigmon, P. Burns, and A. Navrotsky (2012) ‘Uranyl Peroxide Enhanced Nuclear Fuel Corrosion in Seawater’, PNAS, 109.6, 1874-1877.
[ii] A. Priyadarshi, G. Dominguez, M. Thiemens (2011) ‘Evidence of Neutron Leakage at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant from Measurements of Radioactive 35S in California’, PNAS, 108(35), 14422-14425.
[iii] G. Wetherbee, T. Debey, M. Nilles, C. Lehmann, and D. Gay. (2012) ‘Fission Products in National Atmospheric Deposition Program-West Deposition Samples Prior to and Following the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant Incident, March 8-April 5, 2011’, U. S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011, 1277, p. 6.