Since our first post about the impacts of Japan’s nuclear crisis on the oceans, a lot has happened, but many questions remain and the situation is constantly changing.
As the cooling systems for the injured reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station remain offline, the method used to avoid a fire and full-blown meltdown of the reactors has been the continuous pumping of seawater onto the fuel rods.
Much of the seawater is evaporated, but thousands of tons of radiated water runoff have filled the nuclear plant. Tokyo Electric, who runs the facility, has shown extreme difficulties handling the growing amounts of radiated water.
They began pumping over 10,000 tons of seawater with lower levels of radiation out into the ocean, to make room for more contaminated water. Shortly afterwards a large crack was discovered last Saturday in a pit next to the seawater intake pipes at the No. 2 reactor which began leaking drastically higher levels of radiation directly into the Pacific.
During the leak, Tokyo Electric reported that seawater near the plant contained radioactive iodine-131 that was 5 million times the legal limit, and cesium-137 levels at 1.1 million times the legal limit.