Since the end of June when the contaminated water treatment system started the operation, total 50,000 tonnes of groundwater have seeped into the reactor buildings and turbine buildings at Fukushima I Nuke Plant. Now, the total amount of contaminated water (highly contaminated water plus not-so-highly contaminated, treated water) at the plant has grown from 127,000 tonnes at the end of June to 175,000 tonnes as of October 18, according to Asahi Shinbun.
Does TEPCO have any plan to stop the flow of groundwater into the reactor buildings and turbine buildings, which just adds to the amount of highly contaminated water to be treated and stored? TEPCO is fast running out of storage space, even with cutting down more trees to make room for the storage tanks.
Other than spraying the low-contamination, treated water on the premise, the answer is no. No plan, as TEPCO is running out of money that it is willing to spend on Fukushima I Nuke Plant.
From Asahi Shinbun (10/19/2011):
It has been discovered that the contaminated water has increased by 40% in 4 months inside the reactor buildings and turbine buildings at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, with the inflow of ground water of about 50,000 tonnes. The flow still continues. TEPCO may run out of storage space for the treated, still-contaminated, water. There is also a possibility of the highly contaminated water overflowing from the buildings if a problem at the water treatment facility and a heavy rain coincide.
According to the calculation done by Asahi Shinbun based on the data published by TEPCO, about 450 tonnes of ground water per day have been flowing into the buildings of Reactors 1 through 4 since the end of June when the contaminated water treatment facility started the operation. It is considered that there are damages in the walls of the buildings.
The amount of groundwater into the buildings fluctuates with the rainfall. At the end of September when it rained heavily because of a typhoon, the amount of ground water doubled, and about 7,700 tonnes of water seeped into the buildings in that week.
The groundwater would mix with the contaminated water in the basement of the buildings, and this highly contaminated water is being sent to the water treatment facility. After the density of radioactive materials in the water is lowered and salt removed, the treated water is being used for cooling the reactors.
When the circulatory water injection and cooling system started in late June, there were 127,000 tonnes of contaminated water (highly contaminated water plus the treated water with low contamination). However, as the result of the groundwater inflow, there are now 175,000 tonnes of contaminated water, a 40% increase, as of October 18. None of the water could be released outside the plant.
Concentrated, highly saline waste water after the desalination process is stored in the special tanks. As more water is processed, more tanks are needed. TEPCO is installing 20,000 tonnes storage tanks every month. To secure the space for the tanks the company has been cutting down the trees in the plant compound. There is a system to evaporate water to reduce the amount of waste water, but it is not currently used.
The water level in the turbine buildings where the highly contaminated water after the reactor cooling accumulates is 1 meter below the level at which there is a danger of overflowing. It is not the level that would cause immediate overflow after a heavy rain. However, if the heavy rain is coupled with a trouble at the water treatment system that hampers the water circulation, the water level could rise very rapidly.
The treatment capacity of the water treatment facility is 1,400 tonnes per day. TEPCO emphasizes that the facility is running smoothly and the circulatory water injection system is stable. However, if the current situation continues where groundwater keeps coming into the buildings that needs to be treated, the water treatment facility will be taxed with excess load, which may cause a problem.
It is difficult to stop the inflow of groundwater completely, and TEPCO is not planning any countermeasure construction. Regarding the continued inflow of groundwater into the buildings, TEPCO's Junichi Matsumoto says, "We have to come up with a more compact water treatment system in which we can circulate water without using the basements of the buildings. Otherwise we would be stuck in a situation where we have to treat the groundwater coming into the basements." However, there is no prospect of fundamentally solving the problem.
And there will be no such prospect, as TEPCO is now proven to be very good at looking the other way. Over 10 sieverts/hour ultra-hot spot? Not a problem, we will just cordon off the area. What is causing 10 sieverts/hour radiation? Why it's not our problem. How much over 10 sieverts/hour? We don't know because we don't measure such things. High hydrogen concentration in the pipe? Not a problem, we will just blow nitrogen gas. What is causing the high hydrogen concentration? It's not our problem. A worker died after 1 week of work at the plant. Why? It's not our problem, it's the subcontractor's problem...