The unintended consequences at Fukushima nearly a decade after the disaster
The unintended consequences at Fukushima nearly a decade after the disaster

Patricia BioscaSEGUIRMadrid Updated: Save Send news by mail electrónicoTu name *

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11 march 2011 there was an earthquake off the northwest coast of Japan . 46 minutes later, a tsunami of 14 meters high hit the mainland. Apart from furniture, the water barrier broke down the dam of containment of the nuclear power plant of Fukushima Dai-ichi, of only 5.7 meters. Immediately flooded the adjoining land and the basements of the plant. Destroyed the emergency generators and the accidental loss of coolant resulted in three mergers nuclear , three hydrogen explosions and a c ontaminación radioactive unprecedented in the ocean , not counting the mainland, which forced them to evacuate the entire population within a radius of 30 kilometres.

Today, almost ten years later, the radiation levels have fallen to a level within a range estimated as reliable, except in the waters closest to the central eléctric,still remains closed. The marine fauna and flora are recovering little by little and reopen the towns that were emptied after the second nuclear accident more damaging lived by mankind, behind only Chernobyl . But still hidden dangers. A new study published in “Science” -coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the attack on Hiroshima – warning of the risk which is contained in the tanks of the central and advocates against release their contents to the sea , as proposed by some government officials.

“We have seen in the past nine years, how the levels of radioactive cesium have decreased in the sea water and the marine life in the Pacific,” explains Ken Buesseler , chemical, marine of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and author of the new article. However, warning: “Some of them were not detected in such large quantities in 2011 and, more importantly, not all have the same effects in the ocean”.

Tracing the radioactivity

Since 2011, Buesseler has studied the spread of radiation from the Fukushima accident across the Pacific. In June of that same year, he mobilized a research team to carry out the first cruise for international research and study the first routes that the caesium-134 and -137 , two radioactive isotopes produced in the reactors, they took in the melt with the powerful Kuroshio current, off the coast of Japan. He also created a network of researchers in the united States and Canada that have helped to control the arrival and movement of radioactive material in the Pacific coast of North America.

now, however, is more concerned about the 1,000 tanks in the interior of the plant that are filling up the ground water contaminated by contact with the reactors and their containment buildings. Although the sophisticated cleaning processes have been able to remove many radioactive isotopes and have carried out huge efforts to divert groundwater, some estimates claim that those tanks will be filled in the near future, so that some japanese officials have proposed that release water directly to the ocean.

how to Release water to the sea?

This idea is supported in one of the radioactive isotopes with the greatest presence is the tritium , an isotope of hydrogen almost impossible to delete, as it becomes part of the water molecule. The “good” of this isotope is that it has a half-life relatively short and is not so harmful for health of the living organisms and the background. However, according to alert this study, together with the tritium also would be released isotótopos of carbon-14, cobalt-60 and strontium-90 -detected for the first time in 2018-, molecules that take much longer to decompose , and that are more easily absorbed by the marine life and the ocean floor, putting them in serious danger.

“The current approach in the tritium in the tanks for retention of sewage ignores the presence of other radioactive isotopes in the waste water,” says Buesseler-. It is a difficult problem, but with a solution. The first step is to clean up these pollutants, additional and then make plans based on what you can get. Any option that involves the release of waste into the ocean would require independent groups that control all potential hazards in the sea water, the bottom of the ocean and the marine life. The ocean’s health and livelihoods of countless people depend on this being done correctly”.

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