Wed 10 Jun 2015
From Three Mile Island, to Chernobyl, to Fukushima, nuclear power has soaked up trillions of $$$ and awarded planet Earth with poisonous outputs and death and destruction. The proponents point to the trillions of kilowatts generated without carbon emissions. The bottom line is what to we do to shut them down? Safely. The answer is – there is none. So we are in jeopardy for thousands of years.
No One Knows What to Do With Fukushima’s Endless Tanks of Radioactive Water
This is what passes for good news from Fukushima Daiichi, the Japanese nuclear power plant devastated by meltdowns and explosions after a cataclysmic earthquake and tsunami in 2011: By the end of last month, workers had succeeded in filtering most of the 620,000 tons of toxic water stored at the site, removing almost all of the radioactive materials.
After numerous false starts and technical glitches, most of the stored water has been run through filtration systems to remove dangerous strontium-90, as well as many other radionuclides. TEPCO, the Japanese utility that operates the power plant, trumpeted the achievement: “This is a significant milestone for improving the environment for our surrounding communities and for our workers,” said Naohiro Masuda, TEPCO’s chief decommissioning officer, in a press release.
But it’s not quite so easy to bounce back from a nuclear disaster of this scale. For one thing, don’t take TEPCO’s statement too literally: No one is living in the “surrounding communities”—they’re far too contaminated for human habitation. Furthermore, the filtered water is still full of tritium, a radioactive version of hydrogen. (When two neutrons are added to the element, it becomes unstable, prone to emitting electrons.) Tritium bonds with oxygen just like normal hydrogen does, to produce radioactive “tritiated water.” It’s impractical—or at least extremely difficult and expensive—to separate tritiated water from normal water.
You will be depressed. Go there and read anyway. More next week.