Sunday, August 25, 2013

PNN - Summers Farther Shore

PNN 8/25/13
Shores of Summer
Kofi Hunt - Rick Kreisman for St. Petersburg
Meredith Ockman - women's report
Grey Terrino-Caceros - immigrant enforcement
Jerry Waxman - top update

1. New ID rules would threaten citizens' rights
By Richard Sobel, Special to CNN

(CNN) -- Sensible immigration reform will strengthen American society and economy. But it must also respect the rights of U.S. citizens and those aspiring to join them.

Buried in the comprehensive immigration reform legislation before the Senate are obscure provisions that impose on Americans expansive national identification systems, tied to electronic verification schemes. Under the guise of "reform," these trample fundamental rights and freedoms.

Requirements in Senate Bill 744 for mandatory worker IDs and electronic verification remove the right of citizens to take employment and "give" it back as a privilege only when proper proof is presented and the government agrees. Such systems are inimical to a free society and are costly to the economy and treasury.

Any citizen wanting to take a job would face the regulation that his or her digitized high-resolution passport or driver's license photo be collected and stored centrally in a Department of Homeland Security Citizenship and Immigration Services database.

The pictures in the national database would then need to be matched against the job applicant's government-issued "enhanced" ID card, using a Homeland Security-mandated facial-recognition "photo tool." Only when those systems worked perfectly could the new hire take the job.

Immigrant employees would probably have to get biometric (based on body measurements like fingerprint scans and digital images) worker ID cards. Social Security cards may soon become biometric as well. Any citizen or immigrant whose digital image in the Homeland Security databank did not match the one embedded in their government-issued ID would be without a job and benefits.

Yet, citizens have a constitutional right to take employment. Since the Butchers Union Co. decision in 1884, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that "the right to follow any of the common occupations of life is an inalienable right ... under the phrase 'pursuit of happiness.' " This right is a large ingredient in the civil liberties of each citizen.

The digital ID requirements in S. 744 eliminate that fundamental right to take employment and transform it into a privilege. This constitutional guarantee could in effect be taken away by bureaucratic rules or deleted by a database mistake.

As philosopher John Locke, whose phrase "consent of the governed" animates the Declaration of Independence, once said, everybody "has a property in his own person." Who is a citizen is today determined by his or her American personhood. Under S. 744, that would no longer be true.

How will Congress vote on immigration?

Instead, the determination of whether someone has a right to take a job would be made by two computer files: one in a Department of Homeland Security database and the other on a government-issued ID card. Identity and IDs become "property of the U.S. government."

Moreover, S. 744 undermines constitutional federalism by resurrecting ID provisions that most states have rejected. Not only does S. 744 mandate "E-Verify" as a national electronic verification system for employment for the 33 states that have not joined it (Illinois actually outlawed its use), the bill also revives the moribund "Real ID" requirement for sharing of driver's license photos among the states and federal government, which 25 states opposed by law or resolution. Only 13 states joined as of last year.

In short, S. 744 gets around states' repeated rejections of national identification systems by lumping E-Verify and Real ID into overly comprehensive national identification (rather than immigration) "reform." S. 744's provisions also mandate collection of the details about almost every American, an enumeration task the Constitution authorizes only to the census every 10 years, and then only under a 72-year guarantee of confidentiality.

Moreover, though the search for religious freedom created this country and begins the Bill of Rights, S. 744 removes the religious accommodations that 20 states offer in the form of driver's licenses without photographs for reasons of religious faith.

These follow the Supreme Court's upholding of a Nebraska woman of Christian faith's observance of the Second Commandment prohibition against images (other religions may also qualify). If mandatory digital photos and biometric IDs are forced on religious believers, many are convinced that they will face eternal condemnation.

E-Verify essentially equates all Americans with "illegal immigrants." Instead of naturalization freeing legal immigrants from carrying mandatory "green cards," universal E-Verify would impose IDs on American citizens. E-Verify effectively creates a "no-work" list for the unverifiable.

Uses of worker IDs will proliferate like Social Security numbers -- once intended "not for identification purposes" -- and driver's licenses -- once simply proving driving skill. Worker IDs could become "travel licenses" for "official purposes," as defined by the secretary of Homeland Security, like entering government buildings, flying (still possible now without ID) or taking public transit. These undermine the rights to petition government and to travel. Even though the bill says it does not authorize a national ID, its provisions do.

Digital photos in the Homeland Security databank can be used to match anyone anywhere using facial recognition surveillance technology. Because the standards are cross-national and the U.S. exchanges information with other governments and global organizations, the digital photos will probably be shared with foreign and international intelligence and police agencies.

Moreover, the recent revelations of IRS and National Security Agency excesses raise the question of universal E-Verify as the foundation for a central surveillance system of storing and tracking job, tax, communication and biometric information on individuals. This shifts too much power to the government and away from citizens.

Worker ID systems will burden individuals and businesses with large expenses. Many Americans without driver's licenses will lose work time traveling to vital records offices for birth or marriage certificates or to motor vehicle agencies for state IDs to become eligible to be E-Verified. The large costs some people pay will include the inability to work because they cannot get proper documentation.

A comprehensive worker ID system will cost taxpayers and businesses, big and small, billions for the time and "photo tool" equipment needed to implement such a system to E-Verify the entire labor force.

Universal E-Verify might also push employers and employees toward the black market, encouraging the hiring of workers off the books. It could cost employers and employees more than $6 billion and reduce tax revenues by $17 billion a decade.

As one immigration-policy expert was quoted saying in the Wall Street Journal, a biometric E-Verify system is "not only a gross violation of individual privacy, it's an enormously high-cost policy that will have an incredibly low to negligible benefit." Even sponsors of the bill have noted that biometric tracking systems are inordinately expensive and "have experienced problems in test runs." If E-Verifying costs $150 per employee, only a third (37%) of Americans say in polls that they would support using the system.

The existing E-Verify is infamous for database errors that kept tens of thousands of citizens out of work and in limbo. Nationwide E-Verify could raise that number many-fold. A 1% error rate for a labor force of more than 150 million workers, with the vast majority being American citizens, leaves 1.5 million unemployed.

These ID provisions divert attention and resources from effective and comprehensive policy measures to legalize more immigrants, workers and workplaces.

Together, good public policy combinations can let people enter and leave by the "front door" and jointly reduce the pressures for overemphasis on border security and the excuses for invasive and unconstitutional ID and verification systems.

Moreover, these complement simpler and less invasive alternatives to E-Verify, such as longstanding provisions for citizen attestation of their rights. And others can "answer questions about previous addresses or other details." These can be implemented inexpensively on forms kept at the workplace.

Protecting the constitutional right to employment of a diversity of citizens helps everyone who wants to contribute to prosperity and to become American by maintaining citizenship as the bedrock of freedoms. Our citizenship must remain the gold standard, rather than a tarnished dream, for both current Americans and those seeking to enter here.

Our leaders have to hear that E-Verify, digital IDs and databanks, and biometric worker cards need to be dropped fast. Increased legal immigration, reasonable legalization, fair work standards enforcement and viable guest worker options can sustain citizenship and employment rights fairly and without exorbitant costs.

And we do not want biometric worker IDs or digital "Big Brother" verification schemes that trample on the basic rights of American citizens and those working to join us.

2. Central Florida Unions Say No to the TPP
Added by Jerry Waxman on August 19, 2013.
Saved under Jerry Waxman, Latest News
Tags: AFL-CIO, Citizens Trade Campaign, free trade, Jerry Waxman, Jim Hightower, Jim Howe, NAFTA, TPP, Trans Pacific Partnership

Remember that old 1956 movie, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, where the giant seed pods were replacing real people with non human things that looked like people as they slept? Remember Kevin McCarthy’s frantic warning (“They’re here already! You’re next!”) as he bounced about in traffic? That movie was a thinly veiled warning against communism which was a very popular sentiment during the McCarthy (no pun intended) years. No need to be alarmed. Communism would never take hold here because we were a free people, free to choose how we lived…….or so we thought. More rightly, the movie has become prophetic because if we substituted the words “Multinational Corporatism” it doesn’t sound so horrible but it accomplishes the same goals. Guess what? Communism was never the enemy; totalitarianism was. We are about to experience totalitarianism of a different kind, a totalitarianism so absolute that even our government, at all levels, will be powerless to stop it. It’s called the Trans Pacific Partnership or TPP and our government wants us to be a part of it.
We’ve been asleep as a nation since Ronald Reagan’s election as president. That was the beginning of trickle down economics, union bashing, privatization and the consolidation of corporate power on a global basis. The economic elites see the billions of our tax dollars pumped into our highways, schools and other government services and they think to themselves that they need a piece of the action. Governments don’t make anything; they contract it out to builders, auto manufacturers, furniture manufacturers, clothing manufacturers, etc. Private industry already supplies the government with everything it needs but these people want more and our elected officials are willing to let them have it because we haven’t been holding them accountable. President Obama even alluded in his State of the Union speech to fast tracking the US efforts to join the TPP. Fast tracking is a method of escaping accountability in the US congress. The method failed on NAFTA during George H. W. Bush’s administration and NAFTA had to have a full hearing during the Clinton administration. The lessons learned from NAFTA and other free trade agreements should steer this country clear of any of those agreements in the future. I’ve written previously on the TPP in two articles, The Enemy Beneath, and You Have been Granted a Rare Privilege, the former about the dangers of the TPP and the latter about a forum in which Congressman Alan Grayson as well as other leaders spoke out. There’s no need to cover it again.
Jim Howe is a man on a mission. I first met him almost two years ago when he moved here from Midland Texas, where he was an activist, at about the same time that Occupy Orlando was starting up. He is a member of the Communications Workers of America local 3108 and his politics are decidedly progressive. He is active in the local Green Party and through his influence and efforts I got to spend a lot of time with the Green Party 2012 candidate for president, Jill Stein, who had a profound effect on me. Jim is a political activist first class and his mission these past 10 months has been to rally union and political opposition to the TPP. His efforts are starting to pay off.

At the recent AFL-CIO Central Labor Council meeting on August 14, during a hotly contested officers election meeting, Jim was able to get everyone to agree to sign on to an opposition resolution showing Central Florida labor’s stance on the TPP, prior to the elections. He also is active in Floridians Against the TPP and works closely with Public Citizen and the Citizens Trade Campaign. The Citizens Trade Campaign has crafted a letter to Congress with support from numerous groups to stop the fast tracking and the TPP itself. The letter itself hasn’t been updated since March, but Central Florida Labor was signatory to it even then.

Although it is not written about by the mainstream press in a large way there are several articles and actions popping up if you care to look for them. Most recently progressive blogger, Jim Hightower, wrote extensively and expressively on the subject. The one question we all ask ourselves is why the secrecy? How come there’s no real outrage? Are we so used to being ignored and abused by our leaders and corporations that we just meekly accept whatever crumbs we receive? Not where Central Florida Labor is concerned. With men like Jim Howe taking leading roles in keeping up the opposition this battle is far from being over. Howe wants everyone to know that the next planning meeting for action against the TPP will be held on Thursday, August 22 at 6:30 pm at CWA union hall, 2220 Edgewater Drive in Orlando. Be there, because if you’re not “you’re next!”

And the destruction continues…how do we protect our west coast from 20-30 years of radioactive pollution in the Pacific….it is just plain gut wrenching.

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100,000,000 gallons of highly radioactive water in shoddy, leaking tanks, located next to melted nuclear reactors with their spent fuel ponds perched in blown up buildings . . . all sitting on top of increasingly waterlogged soil . . . made so by 1000 tons of groundwater that infiltrates the site each day, and is blocked by the underground barrier that TEPCO has so brilliantly constructed

And even if the “frozen ground” approach gets budgeted and underway, it will only work for a short time. In the interim, among a host of other problems, there is roughly 400,000 tons of contaminated water in a massive tank farm on site, with plans to add an additional 300,000 tons of capacity over the next three years. But the annual increase in water storage is 150,000 tons, so Tepco is due to run out of space and has no plan for what to do.7 Moreover, the tanks are “built from parts of disassembled old containers brought from defunct factories and put together with new parts, workers from the plant told Reuters. They say steel bolts in the tanks will corrode in a few years.” Tepco has said it does not know how long the tanks will stand up to the elements and chemistry, and apparently has no plan for what to do when nature takes its toll here as well.8 - See more at:

But there’s a risk to changing the flow of groundwater in the ways that Tepco is considering, said Tatsuya Shinkawa, nuclear accident response director of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, at a news conference last month. The water could pool dangerously underground, softening the earth and potentially toppling the reactor buildings, he said. [...]

The east side of the reactor buildings, in an area close to the sea where land was filled in, appears more vulnerable to liquefaction. [Atsunao Marui, a groundwater expert and principal senior researcher at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology] said the reclaimed land consists of clay and crushed rocks, through which water can easily pass. [...]

And because the [underground] wall is blocking a certain amount of groundwater, the level of groundwater has risen in the fill area, raising the risk of liquefaction if and when another earthquake hits, Tepco said. [...]

“(Tepco) is seeing a danger that the area near the sea might become like mud, so it is pumping up the groundwater,” said Marui. [...]

Arnold Gundersen, Fairewinds Associates: The Japanese are proposing putting in a barrier to prevent the water from entering the ocean. That is two years too late and will be too late by the time they construct that barrier. But the barrier also causes another problem. If the water can’t go anywhere into the Pacific Ocean, it is going to build up onsite, which means that the nuclear reactors themselves will become unstable. The water can pool underneath the nuclear buildings and if there is an earthquake, in fact the nuclear buildings could topple. So, by solving one problem, they are creating another problem.

Is it possible to somehow avoid that scenario?
The solution that I proposed two years ago was to surround the plant with a trench filled with material called zeolite. That’s just the volcanic ash. The volcanic ash is very good at absorbing radiation. But the solution isn’t to keep the water from getting out. The solution is to keep the water from getting in. So, outside the trench that they surround the plant, if they pull the water level down (the clean water outside the trench) that would prevent further water from leaking into the Daiichi site.

The Japanese haven’t been willing to spend the money. I approached them two years ago with this and I was told that Tokyo Electric doesn’t have the money to spend. But of course, the problem now is that we are contaminating the Pacific Ocean which is extraordinarily serious.

Read more:

Is there anything that can be done with that, I mean with the ocean?

Frankly, I don’t believe so. I think we will continue to release radioactive material into the ocean for 20 or 30 years at least. They have to pump the water out of the areas surrounding the nuclear reactor. But frankly, this water is the most radioactive water I’ve ever experienced. I work directly over a nuclear reactor cores during refueling outages. And the water directly over a nuclear reactor core when the plant is operating is a thousand times less radioactive than this water.

Read more:

Read more:

"The large volume of groundwater flowing under the plant is creating another problem — the possibility that the land it stands on will liquefy if another major earthquake hits."

"About 1,000 tons of groundwater flows from the mountains under the complex daily, and about 400 tons of it penetrates the basement walls of the buildings housing reactors 1 to 4 of the six-reactor plant, thus mixing with the highly radioactive coolant water leaking from the containment vessels."
"The remaining 600 or so tons apparently flows to the sea and Tepco suspects about half of it gets contaminated somewhere else under the plant."

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Mission Impossible? Fukushima scientists brace for riskiest nuclear fuel clean-up yet

Scientists at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant are preparing for their toughest clean-up operation yet – two and a half years after three of the plant’s reactors suffered a meltdown in Japan’s worst-ever nuclear power disaster.

The operation, to remove 400 tons of highly irradiated spent fuel beneath the plant’s damaged Reactor No. 4, could set off a catastrophe greater than any we have ever seen, independent experts warn. An operation of this scale, says plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company, has never been attempted before, and is wrought with danger.
An uncontrolled leak of nuclear fuel could cause more radiation than the March 2011 disaster or the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe, say consultants Mycle Schneider and Antony Froggatt. "Full release from the Unit-4 spent fuel pool, without any containment or control, could cause by far the most serious radiological disaster to date," the scientists say in their World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013.
The operation has been tried before – but only with the aid of computers. This time it will be a painstaking manual process.

Here’s what needs to be done: more than 1,300 used fuel rod assemblies, packing radiation 14,000 times the equivalent of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb, need to carefully be removed from their cooling pool.

Arnie Gunderson, a veteran US nuclear engineer and director of Fairewinds Energy Education, told Reuters that "they are going to have difficulty in removing a significant number of the rods," especially given their close proximity to each other, which risks breakage and the release of radiation.

Gundersen told Reuters of an incredibly dangerous “criticality” that would result if a chain reaction takes place at any point, if the rods break or even so much as collide with each other in the wrong way. The resulting radiation is too great for the cooling pool to absorb – it simply has not been designed to do so.

"The problem with a fuel pool criticality is that you can't stop it. There are no control rods to control it,” Gundsersen said. “The spent fuel pool cooling system is designed only to remove decay heat, not heat from an ongoing nuclear reaction."
The base of the pool where the fuel assemblies are situated is 18 meters above the ground. The pool itself is 10 by 12 meters, and the rods are seven meters under the surface of the water. One problem with that pool is it has been exposed to air in the 2011 catastrophe, when its roof was blown off by the explosion.
The operation is urgent – because even a minor earthquake could trigger an uncontrolled fuel leak.

 The removal process is due to begin in November, with TEPCO predicting it will take approximately a year. Although TEPCO is confident the operation will be a success, some experts are more skeptical. TEPCO is currently failing to contain radioactive water seepage in another part of the facility.

Two empty fuel rods were removed as part of a test operation some time ago, but "to jump to the conclusion that it is going to work just fine for the rest of them is quite a leap of logic," Reuters quoted Gundersen, of Fairewinds Energy Education as saying.

A giant steel frame currently towers over Unit 4, soon to be tasked with the extraction of the fuel assemblies. Each fuel rod weighs at around 300 kilograms and is 4.5 meters long. They also contain plutonium, one of the most radioactive substances known to man. The radiation builds up during the later stages of a core’s operation.

Toshio Kimura, a former TEPCO technician, told Reuters that the operation would normally be assisted by computers, but that luxury is gone. "Previously it was a computer-controlled process that memorized the exact locations of the rods down to the millimeter and now they don't have that. It has to be done manually so there is a high risk that they will drop and break one of the fuel rods," he said.

He is also expecting many issues for TEPCO ahead, as the process is estimated to take years. The scientists’ task is not made easier by the fact that the building is also prone to corrosion from salt water.

Removing the fuel rods is just one part of the cleanup operation, itself expected to take around four decades - according to the IAEA - during which any number of other problems could arise.

The fuel rod scare comes as TEPCO is currently failing to contain radioactive water seepage in another part of the facility – itself a growing issue with no concrete solution, apart from building a special underground wall. But with water quantity building up at an alarming rate, the most likely version of events is that the radioactive water will simply have to be released into the Pacific at some point. According to TEPCO, there are still “no perfect solutions.”

"If you build a wall, of course the water is going to accumulate there. And there is no other way for the water to go but up or sideways and eventually lead to the ocean," Masashi Goto, a nuclear engineer who has worked at several TEPCO plants, told Reuters. "So now, the question is how long do we have?"

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This situation is not made easier by the fact that Japan is a seismically active island. Earthquakes keep striking at random, and even a small tremor could set in motion a catastrophic chain of events.

A worker walks in front of water tanks at Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture (Reuters / Noboru Hashimoto / Pool)

A worker walks in front of water tanks at Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture (Reuters / Noboru Hashimoto / Pool)
Costs soaring – no end in sight

Clean-up costs at the nuclear plant are projected to be in the billions of dollars, as the facility’s operator has failed to meet its targets, leading to increased public distrust and forcing the government to step in.

In the two years since the March 2011 meltdown, the costs of the cleanup project could be spiraling out of control financially. If the clean-up is not carried out, it could cause incalculable problems for Japan’s economy, particularly in agriculture.

The Institute for Industrial Sciences at the University of Tokyo has recently estimated that the levels of radiation along the country’s coastline are way above the government target.

"We have detected over 20 spots around Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant with levels of radiation five to 10 times higher than the surrounding areas, with diameters ranging from tens to hundreds of meters," the institute said.

TEPCO had been left to its own devices two years ago to deal with the clean-up and the compensation payments to people in the contaminated region. Now, with recent news of over 300 tons of contaminated water being leaked into the Pacific for more than two years, the Japanese government has decided to step in.

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, the government ordered Fukushima plant operator TEPCO to bear the entire costs of the clean-up, but also told it to get back to profitability as soon as possible through cost-cutting, so that it could pay off its debts. The clean-up will weigh very heavily on Japan’s energy consumption, however, on top of the already stringent energy austerity measures.

But TEPCO has insisted it will not be able to handle the clean-up bill, which is now projected at more than $10 billion. The company has already spent $3 billion and will require a major injection of $10 billion by March 2014, it says.

4. A nuclear expert has told the BBC that he believes the current water leaks at Fukushima are much worse than the authorities have stated.
Mycle Schneider is an independent consultant who has previously advised the French and German governments.
He says water is leaking out all over the site and there are no accurate figures for radiation levels.
Meanwhile the chairman of Japan's nuclear authority said that he feared there would be further leaks.
The ongoing problems at the Fukushima plant increased in recent days when the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) admitted that around 300 tonnes of highly radioactive water had leaked from a storage tank on the site.
Moment of crisis
The Japanese nuclear energy watchdog raised the incident level from one to three on the international scale that measures the severity of atomic accidents.
Continue reading the main story

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It is leaking out from the basements, it is leaking out from the cracks all over the place”
Mycle Schneider
Nuclear consultant
This was an acknowledgement that the power station was in its greatest crisis since the reactors melted down after the tsunami in 2011.
But some nuclear experts are concerned that the problem is a good deal worse than either Tepco or the Japanese government are willing to admit.
They are worried about the enormous quantities of water, used to cool the reactor cores, which are now being stored on site.
Some 1,000 tanks have been built to hold the water. But these are believed to be at around 85% of their capacity and every day an extra 400 tonnes of water are being added.
"The quantities of water they are dealing with are absolutely gigantic," said Mycle Schneider, who has consulted widely for a variety of organisations and countries on nuclear issues.
"What is the worse is the water leakage everywhere else - not just from the tanks. It is leaking out from the basements, it is leaking out from the cracks all over the place. Nobody can measure that.
"It is much worse than we have been led to believe, much worse," said Mr Schneider, who is lead author for the World Nuclear Industry status reports.
At news conference, the head of Japan's nuclear regulation authority Shunichi Tanaka appeared to give credence to Mr Schneider's concerns, saying that he feared there would be further leaks.
``We should assume that what has happened once could happen again, and prepare for more. We are in a situation where there is no time to waste," he told reporters.
The lack of clarity about the water situation and the continued attempts by Tepco to deny that water was leaking into the sea has irritated many researchers.
Dr Ken Buesseler is a senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who has examined the waters around Fukushima.
"It is not over yet by a long shot, Chernobyl was in many ways a one week fire-explosive event, nothing with the potential of this right on the ocean."
"We've been saying since 2011 that the reactor site is still leaking whether that's the buildings and the ground water or these new tank releases. There's no way to really contain all of this radioactive water on site."
"Once it gets into the ground water, like a river flowing to the sea, you can't really stop a ground water flow. You can pump out water, but how many tanks can you keep putting on site?"
Several scientists also raised concerns about the vulnerability of the huge amount of stored water on site to another earthquake.

5. plume concentrates as it gets to the west coast
Study shows Fukushima nuclear pollution becoming more concentrated as it approaches U.S. West Coast — Plume crosses ocean in a nearly straight line toward N. America — Appears to stay together with little dispersion (MODEL)

[...]  On March 30, 2011, the Japan Central News Agency reported the monitored radioactive pollutions that were 4000 times higher than the standard level. Whether or not these nuclear pollutants will be transported to the Pacific-neighboring countries through oceanic circulations becomes a world-wide concern. [...]
[...] The time scale of the nuclear pollutants reaching the west coast of America is 3.2 years if it is estimated using the surface drifting buoys and 3.9 years if it is estimated using the nuclear pollutant particulate tracers. [...]

6. & 7

Sinking ground at Fukushima plant cause of serious leakage of extremely contaminated water? Asahi: Tank may have ‘distorted’ when land subsided

A tank that caused a serious leakage of radioactive water in the compound of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant was transferred to its current location after causing the ground to subside where it was previously situated, Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the plant, said on Aug. 24.

TEPCO said the tank may have been damaged or distorted when the ground settled unevenly, which led to the leakage of about 300 tons of water highly contaminated with radioactive materials. [...]

[...] It is made of steel plates connected with bolts, rather than being welded [...]

[July 2011] workers poured water into [three] tanks to see whether they would leak. At that time, the ground subsided about 20 centimeters. [...]

About 350 tanks of the same structure are currently being used [...]

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Contamination now spiking in seawater off Fukushima plant — Asahi reports up to 18-fold increase in a week

    High-level radioactive tritium found in seawater at Fukushima plant port

    Concentrations of radioactive tritium in seawater from the port of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant have risen between eight and 18 times in one week, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Aug. 23.

    [...] On Aug. 12, the concentration in the same area was lower than the limit for detection [...]

    [...] contaminated groundwater around the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 reactors [is] flowing into the sea. The government estimates that about 300 tons of groundwater is flowing daily to the sea. [...]

    TEPCO also said it is likely that of the highly contaminated water that has accumulated in pits, about 10 liters are flowing into the sea every day. [...]

    British Gov’t Website: “Tritium can cross the placenta, posing some risk of birth defects and early pregnancy failures. Ingestion of tritiated water also increases cancer risk.”

See also: AP: Experts fear giant underground reservoir of extremely contaminated water on verge of entering Pacific at Fukushima -- In contact with melted nuclear fuel? A race against the clock -- Nobody knows when this will end

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Nuclear Experts: Portion of Fukushima’s molten fuel believed to have “moved into earth” — Melted cores contacting groundwater may be cause of recent spike in radiation levels -CTV
Published: August 24th, 2013 at 11:15 am ET

    Following the 2011 disaster, TEPCO has faced a growing catalogue of problems, including several leaks of radioactive water which has been accumulating as a result of continual water injections to cool the damaged reactors.

    Although no one can confirm where the melted fuel cores are located, some experts believe some of the radioactive material from the damaged core has moved into the earth.

    The recent spike in radiation levels in the water may therefore be coming from groundwater coming into contact with the melted cores.

    From Yesterday: Nuclear Expert: Fukushima melted fuel is drifting in ocean and onto land, lacking any containment -- It ends up on coastline and blows into communities -- People get an exceptional dose -- Health harm will go on for thousands, if not tens of thousands of years (AUDIO)

See also: Wall St. Journal: They don’t know where Fukushima’s melted fuel cores are, or in what state — Expert: “It’s important to think of worst-case scenario”… Even greater levels of contamination may be on the way