The news coming out of Japan is still very meager. After the explosion of reactor building 2, two workers were said to be missing. Were they found? Are they dead? Who knows? The Japanese media is too polite to ask.
Two workers were in a turbine room today with 12 inches of standing water on the floor. They only had on regular boots, which were soaked. After several hours, they developed large sores through to the muscle. Supposedly the radiation levels were measuring fairly low, but most radiation detectors do not detect beta particles because they can be stopped by a sheet of paper.
And indeed, the wounds have been said to be beta burns. What puts out beta? Tritium. But what produces tritium in a nuclear plant that runs with regular water? Well some tritium is produced by neutron bombardment of the water in the reactor, but it is supposed to be a small amount. A hydrogen atom has to pick up two neutrons, which doesn’t happen often. Tritium production is slow even in heavy water reactors.
But Boron, when hit with a high energy neutron, will produce quite a bit of tritium. (When hit with a low energy neutron, it generally goes to lithium.) This would imply that the boron-treated water that they have been putting into the pools and reactors has been boiling away, leaving encrustations of boron behind (and literally tons salt from the sea water, but that is another story). The water, which would act as a neutron moderator, is gone, so the high energy neutrons are converting the boron to tritium.
I bet they are releasing gobs and gobs of tritium, and don’t even know it, since many of their detectors won't see it.
There are two possibilities: 1) The water is coming directly from the core through a breach. 2) The spent fuel pool has become critical and is producing high energy neutrons like a reactor.