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Diaper-Like Material Unable to Stop Fukushima's Radioactive Water from Leaking Into the Sea

I'll echo Boing Boing's thoughts on this story: This is no joke. Apparently a series of preventative polymeric water absorbent dams (the diaper-like material) have been unable to stop radioactive water from leaking into the Pacific Ocean around Fukushima.

The situation sounds disastrous, with little if any of the contaminated water being absorbed by the super-absorbant material:

Engineers put 8 kilograms of the polymeric water absorbent together with 60 kilograms of sawdust and three bags of shredded newspaper into pipes leading to a pit connected to the No. 2 reactor building where a 20-centimeter crack has been found to be leaking radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean, the agency said.

However, those materials injected at a point 23 meters away from the seaside pit have not been sucked into the water flow, leaving no impact on the rate of leakage, said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the governmental Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

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That blockquote comes courtesy the Kyodo News, which has also reported that containment might not be 100% for "several months." [Kyodo News via Boing Boing]

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DISCUSSION

meatbag_pussrocket
meatbag von pussrocket

This sounds serious but it would be great if there were some more contextualized information available. Such as, how radioactive is this water? how about compared to normal radiation levels? at what point does that radiation pose a significant threat on the well being of the habitat, and the same for humans? How much water are we talking about? what are the realistic potential consequences? Deadzones? Mutations? Consumption risks?

There are good reasons for having the answers to these questions before we get too hysterical over the situation. on the one hand it sounds really bad, but on the other, consider the Bikini Atoll where the US carried out nuclear testing in the 40's [en.wikipedia.org] While the site was so radioactive that it had to be evacuated, the local plant and animal life actually flourished.

So, there could be a silver lining to all this. Japan is notorious for its overfishing and whaling practices. Its conceivable that this could have an impact on their ability or their desire to pursue fishing so heavily in their waters.