Update: Japanese Turn to Paper and Sawdust to Plug Fukushima Nuclear Leak [???]
Where concrete has failed to prevent highly radioactive water pouring into the sea, workers at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have shifted hope of plugging the leaks to an absorbent polymer mixed with sawdust and shredded newspaper that expands 50-fold when in contact with water.
Although officials conceded the polymer had made little impact so far, they will wait until Monday before deciding whether to abandon it. “We were hoping the polymers would function like diapers, but we have yet to see a visible effect,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama, spokesman for Japan’s nuclear safety agency.
Officials separately has warned that the nuclear crisis could drag on for months, the first time that they have offered a timescale. Goshi Hosono, an aide to the prime minister, Naoto Kan, said everything possible was being done to contain leaks, which have contaminated the environment and food and water supplies, necessitated mass evacuations, and fomented fear as far away as Tokyo, 150 miles to the south.
I’ve become very hesitant to post any information that originates from the criminals at TEPCO, but this number (1,000 mSv/hour) has remained standing for over a day now.
According to the IAEA, the limit for public radiation exposure is 1 mSv per year:
The dose limits for practices are intended to ensure that no individual is committed to unacceptable risk due to radiation exposure. For the public the limit is 1 mSv in a year, or in special circumstances up to 5 mSv in a single year provided that the average does over five consecutive years does not exceed 1 mSv per year.
At Fukushima, they’re dealing with 1,000 mSv/hour.
Japanese officials grappling on Sunday to end the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl were focussing on a crack in a concrete pit that was leaking radiation into the ocean from a crippled reactor.
Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said it had found a crack in the pit at its No.2 reactor in Fukushima, generating readings 1,000 millisieverts of radiation per hour in the air inside the pit.
“With radiation levels rising in the seawater near the plant, we have been trying to confirm the reason why, and in that context, this could be one source,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy head of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), said on Saturday.
He cautioned, however: “We can’t really say for certain until we’ve studied the results.”
Leakage did not stop even after concrete was poured into the pit, and Tokyo Electric is now planning to use water-absorbent polymer to prevent contaminated water from leaking out into the sea.
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