Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Fukushima plutonium

8-13-15  Plutonium-244 is the longest lived isotope, with a half-life of about 80 million years. The isotopes found at the Fukushima site include plutonium 239, 240, 241 and 242.  In an effort to better understand how much plutonium was released into the environment after the disaster, scientists collected deposited sediments along rivers from the inland radioactive plume.  An entire range of plutonium isotopes, including isotopes 239, 240, 241 and 242, were detected in low concentrations in the study -- the same isotopes found at Fukushima.

The researchers then determined how much plutonium was from the Fukushima power plant versus the atmospheric fallout from nuclear weapons tested in the 20th century. The results of the study revealed that the radioactivity of plutonium from the Fukushima power plant in the river deposits was slightly greater than that of the plutonium from global fallout. In addition, the results of the study revealed that plutonium from the Fukushima plant has traveled great distances in coastal rivers to the Pacific Ocean.
In other words, the Fukushima power plant is feeding toxic plutonium to coastal rivers that flow into the Pacific Ocean. These results are unsurprising, since the radioactivity of plutonium at the Fukushima site was six to seven orders of magnitude greater than the that of plutonium in the seawater in the western Pacific Ocean. There is no telling the impact that the plutonium can have on the marine environment.
Like other radioactive isotopes, plutonium can cause a host of health problems. If inhaled or ingested, plutonium can stay in the bones, liver and other organs for decades. Plutonium can have a harmful effect on the formation of blood and is associated with an increased risk for a variety of cancers. Just one gram of plutonium can cause leukemia and other bone cancers in people.
Japanese officials insist that the plutonium released from the Fukushima power plant will not pose much of a threat to marine life. Yet the Japanese government has consistently lied about the amount of radiation released from the reactors into the ocean. There is no safe amount of plutonium. It can be absorbed by bottom feeders in the ocean, which can have a rippling effect on the entire food chain.
Previous studies have found dangerous amounts of plutonium originating from the Fukushima power plant. According to the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the plant operator, approximately five soil sites at the Fukushima plant had plutonium. They insisted that the plutonium was from nuclear fallout in the 20th century; however, even TEPCO later admitted that at least two plutonium isotopes found in the soil were from the Fukushima power plant.   No one is sure where the plutonium is coming from at the Fukushima site. A leading suspect is reactor number three, which uses mixed oxide; a nuclear fuel made from plutonium and uranium***.  On the other hand, the plutonium could be coming from reactors number one and two, which are burning uranium.
***MOX has been marketed worldwide for 2 reasons--it burns hotter and therefore allows for more electricity generation and it gradually consumes the big stockpiles of plutonium that are tremendous hazardous burdens to the nuclear energy field.  Plutonium is a by-roduct of uranium usage.   -r

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