After burning for 12 days in a high radiation zone, the Fukushima forest fire has been extinguished. Government officials claim there has been no increase in radiation detected, but that does not mean there hasn't been radiation dispersal.
A forest fire broke out in a high radiation zone near the Fukushima No. 1 Reactor on Saturday evening. The cause is believed to be a lightning strike. It's not clear how much radiation will be released into the atmosphere as the fire burns irradiated wood, plants, and debris.
In a landmark case, a Japanese court has ruled that both the Japanese Government and TEPCO knew of the risks a natural disaster could pose to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant prior to the meltdown and are liable for not taking the proper preventative measures. The evidence included a 2002 government assessment that found there was as high as a 20% chance that a magnitude 8 or greater earthquake could hit the region within 30 years. There are still 28 more civil and criminal lawsuits involving 10,000 citizens seeking compensation of $49 billion.
February 2017: 530 Sieverts/hour measured in Reactor 2
TEPCO came closer to locating the bulk of the melted fuel in Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2 than it ever has after sending a special robot into the severely damaged containment. Unfortunately, while the robot only operated for a very short time due to incredibly high radiation levels, the camera captured the inside of the containment facility where it spotted likely evidence of fuel debris and a hole in the grating below the atomic reactor.
Hole in Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2 - Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.
During its internal Unit 2 atomic containment viewing, the robot radiation detector measured readings as high as 530 Sv/hr. Such a huge radiation dose would be lethal to people in less than one minute, which is why only specially made robots, never tried before anywhere in the world, had to be created. For your comparison, 10 Sv , which converts to 1,000 rem, has proven to be a lethal radiation dose in one only hour! TEPCO’s new Unit 2 readings measure more than 50 times higher. Other areas closer to the bulk of the melted fuel, where the robot could not even reach will likely have much higher radiation levels.
Although this robotic measurement just occurred, this high radiation reading was anticipated and has existed inside the damaged Unit 2 atomic reactor since the disaster began nearly 6 years ago. Fairewinds followers have written and called to ask us what can TEPCO do now. As Fairewinds has said for 6-years, there are no easy solutions because groundwater is in direct contact with the nuclear corium (melted fuel) at Fukushima Daiichi. As Fairewinds has maintained since the meltdowns began, these radiation doses make dismantling the facility almost impossible for 100-years or longer, because the high exposures to workers make it impossible for humans to do the necessary work.
Fairewinds Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen recently appeared on both the BBC and KGO Radio to discuss these developments. You can listen to the interviews here.