WSJ, Oct. 21, 2013: In an alarming Friday-morning alert, the operator of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant said that radiation levels on Oct. 17 had spiked some 6,500 times higher overnight, at a well [...] It’s a lot harder to figure out just how bad that creeping contamination is, however. JRT’s preliminary answer: It could be quite bad [...] Tepco tests water [...] using a quick method that measures something it calls “zen-beta’’ in Japanese – or “all-beta’’ in English. [...] Friday’s alert said that the zen-beta in the contaminated well was 400,000 Bq per liter – a record-high measurement. [...] it turns out that none of it is tritium, since the type of quick measurement used for the beta-radiation check isn’t sensitive enough to pick up tritium, says a Tepco spokesman. What’s more, Tepco has found that the zen-beta from the kind of water that was stored in the leaky tank is generally half from strontium-90 and half from a radioactive form of an element called yttrium, which is formed from strontium-90 in the process of nuclear decay. That would suggest there could be 200,000 Bq per liter of strontium-90 in the well – more than 6,600 times the allowed emission limit.
The Japan Times, Oct. 20, 2013: The plague of radioactive water at the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 power plant has renewed fears both in Japan and abroad over the contamination of seafood and the habitat it comes from. The government is trying to reassure consumers that all fish that find their way to market are safe [...] [Hideo Yamazaki of Kinki University] warned that Japan will need to keep monitoring various radioactive materials from Fukushima No. 1 for 100 years — and possibly even longer — as work to scrap the four damaged reactors stretches on for decades.
Published: October 21st, 2013 at 10:43 am ET