Since our first post about the impacts of Japanâ€™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.
Today is Blog Action Day, and this yearâ€™s theme couldnâ€™t be more relevant to us and all you fantastic ocean activists: water.
Water is also an especially poignant theme given the timing. Next Wednesday is the six-month anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The spill dominated the news -- and this blog -- for several months, and nobodyâ€™s sure what the long-term effects will be on gulf ecosystems.
And yet, just a few days ago, the Obama administration lifted the moratorium on deepwater oil drilling several weeks earlier than planned, and several months before the release of studies about the effects of the oil spill on the gulf.
As Oceanaâ€™s pollution campaign director Jackie Savitz said of the decision, â€śThis is an incredibly disconcerting and unjustified move, that could open the door for the next great oil disaster. Oil spills are common. The question is not whether there will be another spill but when.â€ť
But not all the news the past few months has been negative. Yes, the gulf has endured the worst environmental crisis in our nationâ€™s history, but there are signs of hope. Momentum on offshore wind power is building, for one thing.