back to article Please stop pouring the wrong radioactive water into the sea, Fukushima operator told

Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry minister has called on the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) to improve its management of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant after a leak was discovered earlier this month. Minister Ken Saito this week revealed that the ministry had received concerns about the power plant's safety …

  1. Dinanziame Silver badge

    This seems relatively minor, but it's good to know that they're paying attention.

    1. Philo T Farnsworth

      I'm not sure that "paying attention" is the operative term here.

      According to an Associated Press story filed when the incident occurred, "The leak may have been caused by valves left open while workers flushed the machine with filtered water -- a process intended to reduce radiation levels before the maintenance work, Takahara said. TEPCO said that 10 of 16 air valves that should have been closed were left open during the flushing, and the leak stopped when the valves were closed."

      10 of 16 valves left open seems rather a lot.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Because it is a lot. Or not a lot. Depends on the process and how they should have been closed. If it was an operator in a control room missing a single checklist item to press a single button that would auto close all of them, no it's not a lot. (small mistake, big consequences). If it's 16 valves that should each individually have been closed by hand, at location and checked off on a checklist before the flushing, then yes, it's a lot (big mistake, equally big consequences). Either points to structural procedural issues though.

    2. SVD_NL Silver badge

      Yup, relatively minor things, like emergency generators not being high enough above sea level, may end up being important...

      (Yes they did receive warnings for that)

  2. MyffyW Silver badge

    "Half life ranging from negligible amounts of time to 5,000 years"

    If I had to swim in it right now, I'd take the 5000 years please. Less likely to give me that ruddy glow I'm not looking for.

    If it was soaking into the soil, I've prefer it to tend towards the "negligible", so my great-great^10 grandkids don't have to worry about it.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Well, you need to know what the decay products are and energies released.

      And we should probably compare this with some of the shit that is routinely discharged into the environment from industrial processes: as many have pointed out, burning coal releases quite a lot of radioactive nasties on top of the soot, ditto with most metal processing and that's ignoring all the crap used to extract the ores. In this respect the Chinese are guilty of do what I say, not what I do.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        I guess the Chinese Communist Party feel that being anti-Japanese plays well with the public. if you won't give people freedom, you can at least point them at an enemy other than yourself.

        For example, Hong Kong is 3,000km from Fukushima. I admit I don't know how the currents travel, but the rest of Japan is also between the two, so I'd be surpised if there's any effect. And short of a tsunami, it would be amazing if any water had got from Fukushima to Hong Kong since the new leak in order for them to need to put out a statement saying they've not detected anything. Unless of course, this is the kind of radioactivity that accompanies the rather faster-moving Godzilla. But he/she tends to prefer to visit Tokyo, rather than Hong Kong anyway...

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          I don't think its radioactivity travelling many miles they use as their hands Japan criticism .. that would be a bit silly .. it's potentially contaminated fish from Japanese waters, which is a less silly argument (although assuming reasonable dilution of discharges, still likely to be purely for political reasons)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Food chain effects can be weird

            "potentially contaminated fish from Japanese waters, which is a less silly argument"

            Contaminated fish is what led to "Minamata disease", methyl mercury in waste products discharged from dodgy factories ended up being concentrated in the food chain, with very unpleasant consequences.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            And of course they'd hate that, since China is known for illegally fishing in Japanese water.

            Not just Japanese water of course, they're illegally fishing in quite a few places. How China Targets the Global Fish Supply (paywalled, I recommend Bypass Paywalls Clean)

      2. jake Silver badge

        We should also compare it with all the creeks, streams and rivers that are constantly eroding rocks with naturally occurring radioactivity and dumping it into the Pacific without so much as a by-your-leave.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          This deadly dihydrogen monoxide chemical must be stopped! It destroys rocks, and kills people all the time.

          Also I've heard that it makes your whisky weaker.

          Sometimes it's even dumped into the oceans in massive solid lumps. I've heard that this may be as part of a conspiracy between the Canadian government and their evil Polar Bear overlords...

          1. MyffyW Silver badge

            It's powerful stuff. I found myself wondering if superheated dihydrogen monoxide might be the propulsion system of the future.

            1. Helcat

              You do know it's corrosive, don't you? And a major part of acid rain?

              Oh, and it can cause hyponatremia: Not nice. It's reportedly what killed Andy Warhol, too.

              Know there was a call to ban the stuff, but that fell of deaf ears. So has reports of industry dumping gallons of the stuff into our waterways.

              Just goes to show, don't it...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            my first chemistry set

            I've first heard that lame H2O joke when I was in first year of chemistry. I might I've found it funny at the time (it's not even the IUPAC name, btw: IUPAC name is just water or oxydane).

            Since then, I've heard it 100s of times. Especially from every "pro-science" John Doe.

            But if it makes you happy, who am I to spoil the party?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: my first chemistry set

     will never not be funny.

              Stop being a dick.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: my first chemistry set

                > Stop being a dick.

                Start growing up.

            2. Martin-73 Silver badge

              Re: my first chemistry set

              And yet you tried. It's funny because it's a defence mechanism by those 'john does' who are 'pro science' but sick of idiots. Signed, John Doe

            3. jake Silver badge

              Re: my first chemistry set

              Oxydane is an equine "supplement"[0]; the word you are looking for is "oxidane" ... not that anyone actually uses the term in the RealWorld.

              Sometimes satire helps separate the wheat from the chaff ... Can your local politician be taken in by DHMO satire/parody? If so, it's probably time to vote the idiot out of office.

              Can't spoil the party if you're not invited.

              [0] What I think of magic powders added to critter chow can probably be deduced by the astute reader.

        2. Sudosu Bronze badge

          Humans have now been shown to have extremely high levels of Dihydrogen Monoxide in their bodies.

          We need to immediately implement a tax to curb its usage worldwide.

          Won't somebody please think of the children!

          1. Martin-73 Silver badge

            I have heard it told one can extract DHMO from children by destructive distillation

        3. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

          "We should also compare it with all the creeks, streams and rivers that are constantly eroding rocks with naturally occurring radioactivity"

          The stuff being eroded from rocks has extremely long half-lives. The short half-life stuff having decayed eons ago. Long half-life stuff emits particles very slowly. So, like the uranium glass sitting in my china cabinet, not a serious health risk over my lifetime.

          The problem with fission by-products is that the reaction creates a whole bunch of new short half-life junk. Put that in a spent fuel pool for a few decades and most will be gone.

          1. jake Silver badge

            "Put that in a spent fuel pool for a few decades and most will be gone."

            Put that into a pool the size of the Pacific Ocean, and it dilutes to the point of being virtually nonexistent almost immediately, with absolutely zero chance of it becoming concentrated enough to become a(nother) problem.

            Before you ask, yes I would happily catch and eat fish right at the point this latest dump entered the ocean ... if the ultra-paranoid Japanese government allowed fishing there, that is.

      3. Martin-73 Silver badge

        I remember reading about this in the 80s, at school. The fly ash from some forms of coal burning is so radioactive it would set off alarms at nuclear power stations. it was at this time I stopped listening to 'nuclear power==bad' stories. Things like this feckup don't help the rest of the public trust nuclear.

        Icon: how most of the great unwashed see nuclear power, still :(

        1. Meph

          If I recall correctly, the coal power station residue is also Carbon-14 (as mentioned in the article as residual contamination in the treated water). C-14 has a fairly extreme half-life, but also has a low radioactivity compared to some of the more aggressive byproducts of fission.

          My only concern about nuclear power has always been people identifying it as an end-state solution rather than a stepping stone. Sure, radioactive isotopes can stick around a long time, and are challenging to contain, but are significantly less problematic in the quantities generated in the short term. They'd have to stick with the technology for a long time to catch up with all the current nasty industrialization byproducts already in the wild.

          1. Martin-73 Silver badge

            A lot of it is C-14 yes, but in the fly ash, heavier elements are concentrated, sometimes to a detectable degree. But it's all relatively harmless

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "could cause us to lose the trust"

    I'm not sure you're not already past that point.

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: "could cause us to lose the trust"

      Remembering fondly the TEPCO exec who help a glass of Fukushima water to show how safe it was, and then the look on his face when invited to drink it. His hesitation was perfectly rational, but lousy PR.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: "could cause us to lose the trust"

        You never, ever start that PR stunt unless you're confident and happy to follow through.

        His choice to bring out the glass.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: "could cause us to lose the trust"

          Back during the Mediterranean Fruit Fly problem here in Northern California (1981), one of our legislators pulled a glass of malathion right out of one of the helicopter mounted tanks used for spraying. He held it up to the light in a perfect photo-op, while explaining how the stuff wouldn't hurt humans or pets. And then he drank it.

          That legislator was environmentalist and then Governor Jerry Brown Jr. One of the few politicians I've ever known with the cojones to put his health on the line to prove he wasn't just mouthing the words.

          After affects included a mild tummyache and case of the runs until his gut flora and fauna returned to normal (about three days, he said).

          More recently, in 2016ish, duriing the tail-end of the 2013-2017 drought, he did the same thing with recycled blackwater. He reported no after affects whatsoever about a week later.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "could cause us to lose the trust"

            Wikipedia disagrees with you, says it was somebody else.



            Interestingly, it's also inconsistent about what that guy's job was, apparently he was either chief of staff or director of the California Conservation Corps when it happened.

            So... somebody drank a glass of malathion. NYT says the other guy:

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But it' s safe!

    Radioactive contamination 13 years after the event is nothing when you consider that blades can fall off windmills!

    1. renniks

      Re: But it' s safe!

      Still, thanks to the Brits, the Irish Sea holds the record for 'most radioactive sea' - go TeamGB!!

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: But it' s safe!

        "the Irish Sea holds the record for 'most radioactive sea'"

        Nope. By most metrics, that crown would belong to the Baltic.

        1. Martin-73 Silver badge

          Re: But it' s safe!

          isn't the baltic an ocean tho?

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: But it' s safe!

            No. The Baltic Sea is a sea.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      It isn't a big deal unless you believe in homeopathy. Other than it generally not being very nice to dump waste into the oceans, it was a tiny amount of waste in a very large ocean that's constantly being exposed to 'deadly' radiation from entirely natural sources.

    2. jake Silver badge


      An earthquake measuring 9.1 on the Richter scale hit Japan. It produced a rupture 250 miles long, shifting the sea floor of the Pacific plate some 50 feet down. The entire main island of Japan is said to have shifted over eight feet to the east from where it was the day before. The resulting tsunami was strong enough to kill a man 6,000 miles away on America's north-west coast, and wreck boats in the Santa Cruz harbor in central California. Back in Japan, officially 19,759 people died, 6,242 were injured, and 2,553 people are still missing.

      And yet you are worried about a relatively tiny radiation escape which has killed maybe 1 person[0] directly? Pu-lease ... Grow the fuck up and get a sense of perspective.

      [0] That's one lung cancer death four years after exposure, possibly from events at the reactor, but we'll never know for sure.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Perspective.

          "No need for the aggressive and rude language"

          Pobrecito. First time on tehintrawebtubes?

          "I’m slightly more concerned at the $200 billion 30-40 year programme that’s required to clear it up and decommission it."

          If you are a Japanese citizen you have a cause to complain. The cost of returning the environment to a background radiation level below that of its natural state is quite prohibitive, and indeed the officials making that determination should be chucked out on their ear. Vote accordingly. If you are not Japanese, it;s none of your business, so why quack about it?

          "but from memory Lewis used to constantly bang on"

          Like you are banging on about a bloke who hasn't been here for years?

  6. AceRimmer1980

    You want Gojiras?

    Cos that's how you get Gojiras.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: You want Gojiras?

      Cook 'em low and slow with cherry smoke for best results ... the meat gets tough if you try anything else.

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