Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Plutonium detected in soil outside plant, TEPCO downplays

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has detected isolated, low concentrations of plutonium in the soil at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. The density of plutonium is equivalent to the fallout that reached Japan from nuclear weapons testing during the Cold War, the company said.

TEPCO conducted analysis of plutonium contained in the soil collected on March 21 and 22 at five locations at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Plutonium 238, 239 and 240 were detected, however just two of the samples may be the direct result of the recent incident, considering the ratio of the plutonium isotopes.

"The density detected in the plutonium is equivalent to the density in the soil under normal environmental conditions and therefore poses no major impact on human health," TEPCO said. The company said it plans to strengthen environmental monitoring inside the station and surrounding areas."
Compositions of plutonium found in soil are completely 'normal' and nominal in terms of amounts discovered around the world.

Even though the absolute value of the Pu activity is not significantly higher than that resulting from the atmospheric nuclear testing, its composition implies that some fuel damages have occurred in such a way that small amounts of fuel have been dispersed to the vicinity of the plant.

Increased levels of fuel damage will naturally result in increased Plutonium levels released in the surrounding environment going forward. TEPCO should understand that we prefer ZERO Plutonium escaping from their plant into the environment, and that more concrete numbers would be appreciated.

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