DANGER TO HUMANS
Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) has admitted that things are much more serious at their damaged nuclear facility than they have revealed in the past. Around 300 tonnes of highly radioactive water has leaked from a storage tank; and there are 1,000 similar tanks on site. These 1,000 tanks are believed to be at around 85% of their capacity and every day an extra 400 tonnes of radioactive water are being produced by the ailing plant and added to the tanks.
In addition 270,000 litres per day are leaking into ground water beneath the site and then into the ocean.
The BBC quoted a reputable independent consultant as saying that radioactive water is also leaking out of basements and cracks all over the site and there are no accurate figures for radiation levels.
Japan’s nuclear regulation chief Shunichi Tanaka says he fears there will be further leaks. Japan needs help from the international community, but apparently it does not like to ask for it.
Once a nuclear plant is built it supposedly provides a lot of power very inexpensively, but the truth is coming out. The USA Congressional Budget Office says the actual cost of building 75 nuclear power plants in the U.S. exceeded industry quoted estimates by more than 300 percent (actual cost about $3000 per kW not including waste storage).
In 2007 Moody’s Investor Service increased estimates to $5,000-$6,000 per kW and Keystone Center researchers found surprisingly high operating costs of 30 cents per kW. A proposed new Florida project was quoted at $8000 per kW in 2008.
It takes something like 16 years from conception to operation, allowing costs to mushroom and making the whole exercise a bit moot in today’s accelerating energy innovation environment. Waste-to-energy, biomass CHP, big wind and huge solar farms are all more competitive and much quicker to build. Due to chronic overruns, investors stopped taking cost estimates for new nuke plants seriously around 1980.