Nukewatch Quarterly Spring 2015
Most news reports about Fukushima’s triple reactor meltdowns call it the second worst radiation disaster after Chernobyl. But the Korea Atomic Energy Research (KAER) Institute, south of Seoul, reports that the Fukushima meltdowns may have emitted two to four times as much cesium-137 as the single reactor catastrophe at Chernobyl.
To determine its estimate of the total cesium-137 that was released into the environment from Fukushima, the cesium-137 release fraction (4% to the atmosphere, 16% to the ocean) was multiplied by the cesium-137 inventory for the three melted reactor cores (760 to 820 quadrillion Becquerel, or Bq), with these results:
- Ocean release of cesium-137 from Fukushima: 121.6 to 131.2 quadrillion Bq (16% x 760 to 820 quadrillion Bq)
- Atmospheric release of cesium-137 from Fukushima: 30.4 to 32.8 quadrillion Bq (4% x 760 to 820 quadrillion Bq)
- Total release of cesium-137 into the Environment from Fukushima: 152 to 164 quadrillion Bq
- Total release of cesium-137 into the environment from Chernobyl: 70 to 85 quadrillion Bq
The cesium-137 reactor inventory of 760 to 820 quadrillion Bq used by the KAER Institute is significantly lower than the US Department of Energy’s estimate of 1,300 quadrillion Bq, so it is possible the Korean estimates are low.
—Progress in Nuclear Energy, Vol. 74, July 2014, pp. 61–70; ENENews, Oct. 20, 2014