New Study: Fukushima Released Twice as Much Radiation as Official Estimate Claimed

By Valerie Ross | October 28, 2011 2:56 pm

The nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant this spring may have released twice as much radiation into the atmosphere as the Japanese government estimated, a new preliminary study says. While the government estimates relied mostly on data from monitoring stations in Japan, the European research team behind the new report looked at radioactivity data from stations scattered across the globe. This wider approach factored in the large amounts of radioactivity that were carried out over the Pacific Ocean, which the official tallies didn’t.

Overall, the team says, the disaster released about 36,000 terabecquerels of cesium-137, a radioactive byproduct of nuclear fission, more than twice the 15,000 terabecquerels Japanese authorities estimated—and approximately 42% as much radioactivity as Chernobyl.

The researchers also found that the release of cesium declined sharply when workers started spraying water into the pools holding spent fuel rods at the plant—suggesting that, contrary to the official account, the spent fuel rods had been emitting radiation, and spraying them earlier might have mitigated the fallout.

Image: iStockPhoto

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Physics & Math
  • Ivan Berg

    Official Truth is that 0.4 MCi of radiation was released total – hydrogen explosion from reactive zirconium uncladding of fuel elements (volatiles) plus cores and cooling pond seawater flushing (a broad menu of the heavier 2/3 of the Periodic Table). The real truth is closer to 3000 MCi, the lower estimate of Chernobyl.

    A mammoth patch of tsunami debris is riding north Pacific currents east. Under it is the fission waste that is not diluting much horizontally or vertically. It will take out the Pacific fishery,
    No failure to launch.
    All I want for Christmas is my beta-counts.

    The big hope is the Pacific Garbage Path. Stagnant high air pressure depresses sea level, plus spin imparted by the gyre. Everything in the Pacific near it slides downhill. If flotsam and radwaste do not get caught in the Garbage patch,,

    that crud and radwaste deposits in Oregon (Curtis Ebbesmeyer and the Nike sneakers), then flows north and south along the coast.

    ENorth America will be sooo Officially surprised in 2012. This is a fine time to buy a handheld mini-Geiger counter (the Russian Terra-P is superb (~$(USD)400, as is its computer-interfacable and more expensive brother). If you eat fish, even canned tuna, you want to do a field survey before purchase.

  • Puppetmistress

    Why am I not surprised?

  • Becky

    Is this study published? And if so, what journal please? I would love to read a thorough account of their study and what they found. Thank you.

  • Chrysoprace

    I lived most of my life able to see the nearby nuclear plant from any tall hill. I live in Japan now. I still support nuclear power over fossil fuels.

  • Paul

    One important thing to remember about cesium from reactors is that unlike the cesium from nuclear bombs, much of the reactor cesium is 134 Cs. This isotope has a shorter halflife (2 years) than 137 Cs, the primary bomb isotope.

  • Amos Zeeberg (Discover Web Editor)

    @Becky: There’s a link to the study in the post:

  • Uncle B

    CANDU reactors are inherntly safer. Two of them fueled with Thorium runningin China toda. Thorium fueled LFTR reactors are a proven fact. CANDU reactors can be fueled with waste fuel from Uranium fueled reactors and reduce these wastes to heat abnd relatively benign waste. Google CANDU reactors see Wikpedia site, they do so have a Thorium cycle, the do so have a waste cycle.
    Why were they suppressed? tells the story? Bill Gates “escapes” the American Nuclear Establishment, goes to China to break custom and develope better reactors along other lines of design –


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