What is happening at Fukushima has some people baffled.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said water taken Tuesday afternoon from the monitoring location for the troubled reactors Nos. 1 to 4 had 3,355 times the permitted concentration of iodine-131. That is the highest yet recorded at the sampling location, which is 330 meters south of the reactors' discharge outlet.Keep in mind that it has now been 19 days since shutdown. Which means if there was no later criticality accident I131 levels should be down by about a factor of 5 since 11 March. The fact that the levels in the ocean are rising is a very bad sign.
"The levels are rising and we would like to find the reasons as soon as possible so we can put countermeasures in place," agency spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama said at a press conference.
OTOH by only reporting Iodine they will ultimately be able to show a gradual decline in radiation just from natural decay. In 80 days the amount of I131 would be 1/1,000th of what it was at day zero. More honest would be showing Iodine and Cesium levels. Cesium has a long enough half life (30 years) in relation to the accident that it is a better measure of long term effects.
The nuclear agency's Mr. Nishiyama, meanwhile, said that low pressure levels recorded for the No. 2 and 3 reactors could be a sign that the areas around valves and other inlets of the pressure and containment vessels may have weakened and may be leaking.Well yeah. The fittings could have cracked or broken off. That is a possibility. Another possibility is that the fuel rods melted and burned a hole in the bottom of the reactor vessel, an accident otherwise known as Core On The Floor.
The scope of the water problem became clear earlier in the week when authorities announced that three trenches holding pipes had filled with radioactive water. The situation at reactor No. 2 was especially problematic: The water's radioactivity was measured at 1,000 millisieverts per hour, four times the allowable annual dose for a nuclear worker, even in an emergency situation.
There is no reason for alarm. Everything is fine so far. A little Iodine spread around. Some Plutonium in the dirt. But all at levels that are absolutely safe so far. Nothing to be concerned about. So far.