The latest analyses of sewage sludge in Gunma and Chiba prefectures shows that iodine-131 levels have sharply increased in the last two months. The presence of this short-lived radionuclide indicates criticalities have been occurring at Fukushima Daiichi. It is also the cause of thyroid cancer, thyroid nodules, and other thyroid diseases.
The Gunma graph indicated the highest amounts of I-131 found since testing began in May 2011. The peak in early June is slightly higher than the previous peak in May 2012. Note that levels dipped in early July and bounced back up again in mid-July. This suggest that two separate criticality events have occurred.
The Chiba graph shows a similar situation, with a June peak which was high, but lower than the short sharp spike in September 2012. Chiba also dipped and then rose again in late July, similar to Gunma.
The wind directions have something to do with I-131 contamination in sludge, as do rainfall amounts. Chiba is to the south of Daiichi, and Gunma is to the west. But they agree with each other, pretty much.
The secondary peak in late July indicates a radioactive plume has been emitted, which has already arrived in the US. I expect it to reach the east coast in a couple of days. Certainly there have been radiation spikes in Japan recently. There were many hospitalizations after a heavy rainstorm occurred during an outdoor concert in Tokyo.
A Japanese blog post (here and here) has been making the rounds of message boards and twitter, alleging that a fire has occurred at Fukushima Daiichi. The area circled in red is the water injection crane. Certainly there have been large amounts of steam and smoke at the plant recently. And you don’t necessarily have to have flames to have a fire in nuclear fuel.
The situation is as bad or worse now as at any time since the initial catastrophe in March 2011.