Wednesday, December 21, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Field of Cesium Towers

Level the ground, pour in concrete slab, pile up a lot of sandbags. Decidedly conventional tech. And this has to last for no one knows how long. According to TEPCO, as of December 20, the total number of used cesium towers (Kurion and Toshiba) was 316, with the storage capacity of 393 , and the number of used cesium towers increased by 4 from the previous week. Even at this slow rate, the storage would have been full in 19 weeks or about 5 months. Therefore this "kick the can" construction of more storage space.

One area for Kurion (544 towers capacity), another for Toshiba's SARRY (200 towers). From the looks of it, TEPCO will move the existing used towers from the existing temporary storage space to these new temporary storage facility. That means Kurion's storage will be already more than half full (currently 288 towers), and Toshiba's storage will be more than 10% full (currently 28 towers) already.

Why do they need two separate areas for Kurion and Toshiba in the same facility? Because the size of the cesium towers from these companies is too different, as you can see in the TEPCO's diagram below. Kurion's tower is about 2.4 meter tall (probably built to the spec in inches and feet), and Toshiba's tower is about 3.8 meter tall (probably built in centimeters and meters). It seems Toshiba's SARRY towers do not need concrete lids on top, so they are doubling the height of the rack for SARRY towers and using concrete panels to create secure containment for Kurion towers.

Ah the infinitely long road to "recovery" at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

From TEPCO's press release on December 21, you see this diagram of the facility:

30-centimeter thick concrete slab on top of some sort of substrate. That doesn't inspire much sense of security, considering the recent leak from the evaporative condensation apparatus (desalination), whose concrete perimeter cracked because the concrete wasn't cured long enough.

Here's the facility up-close (click for a bigger photo):


Atomfritz said...

The concrete foundation had to be implemented to make a stable underground for these heavy containers and their concrete shields, which else would stand unstably and get damaged at the next earthquake.

Concrete always cracks due to thermal expansion/compression. To reduce cracking to almost zero and make concrete somewhat water-tight, it's necessary to tension it with steel. Or to divide the building into segments to allow for expansion/contraction, what apparently has not been done here neither in the desalination building.

Instead, these foundations seem to have been made in a whole piece without reinforcements, and so they'll eventually crack, making the concrete leaky very soon.

So the purpose of the concrete is definitely not to contain spills, but to help flooding them out to the ocean with assistance of the rain.

The whole installation resembles a modern Augean stable.

Anonymous said...


Without seeing the structural blueprints for the concrete flooring, it is very difficult to tell if reinforcement bars were used. You are correct that reinforcement bars would normally be required for a concrete slab like this. However, unless certain additives were used in formulating the concrete, normal concrete is fairly porous whether or not rebars were used. The good news is that there appears to be an improved base on top of which the concrete was poured. Normally, the techniques that are used to prepare the ground for concrete slabs (or roads, parking lots, etc.) result in a base that is almost impermeable. Long-term, the ion-exchange resins need to be desiccated.

Anonymous said...

I guess that's why Toshiba calls it ScARRY

Steveo said...

It looks fine and organized to me, the concrete will crack but never is concrete by itself a fluid containment. They are lying, greedy bastards, but they are doing some good work in some aspects.

Anonymous said...

Where is this experimental modern artwork? (so that we may avoid going anywhere near it).Lets hope it stays near Fukushima.

Anonymous said...

It's a fine example of what you can do if you get your shit at least partially together. Sure, it could still have been planned and executed better, but this is way nicer than just stacking them in the parking lot, which has been the MO for quite a while.

Anonymous said...

".. they are doing some good work in some aspects. "

Speaking of which, anybody here heard what TEPCO's spent to date ?

When will the cost/benefit tip 'the wrong way' for these cancer dumps ?

Anonymous said...

".. to help flooding them out to the ocean with assistance of the rain. "

".. the sheer number of almost identical leak reports .."

Fritz, kind of like these at Vt.Yankee ?
You gotta know it's what they're doing.

After the Associated Press did its series on American nukes, almost all with documented leaks.

Speaking of which, the iodine spike, who lost a sub ?

Atomfritz said...

@ anon 9:33

The Vermont Yankee is a veteran BWR like Fuku reactor #1. Most of the tritium gets steadily released by regular operation through the numerous holes in the worn steam condensers.
The combination of wearing-out and larger water flow due to the power uprate increases the amount of leaking primary circuit water into the river used for cooling over time.

Total VY tritium release into the river has been far more than 2000 curie already. But no worries, it's still in the legal limits. So you always have tritium in the river when the reactor is operating.

The radioactive ground water plumes like in VY are nothing uncommon. There are worse than at VY. At Oyster creek the groundwater contains more than 750 times the drinking water limit of tritium.
These plumes usually indicate a poor management of the particular nuclear plant.

The groundwater contamination usually is caused by leaks, often unnoticed for years.

Alternatively there are the occasional tank spills, releasing many thousands of curies in a single "shot".
Part of them go into the groundwater, other to the rivers.

But don't worry.
Excessively radioactive groundwater wells' water gets downblended with water from cleaner wells, so your drinking water will be in the safe limit...

Nuclear ships needing to flush their reactor are a completely different thing because then you'll get a spike of fresh decay products cocktail in the water, not only tritium or iodine.

In Fuku there are piled up many hundreds of tanks in the open, interconnected with poor plastic tubing. Each leak and spill there will be almost similiar, not that individual and spectacular as the leaks reported by AP are.

People will wonder at each report about leaks: "Is this about the leak they reported of yesterday, or is it another new leak again?"

By the way, here is a good compilation of the AP series, together with interactive maps:

Anonymous said...

"Nuclear ships needing to flush their reactor are a completely different thing because then you'll get a spike of fresh decay products cocktail in the water, "

Subs, for instance, use 99% enriched uranium, very hot.

'You got pipes that have been buried underground for 30 or 40 years, and they've never been inspected,' whistleblower says

"The main health risk from tritium .. would be in drinking water. "
Infants, children, pregnant women, double-strand DNA breaks.

".. part of a broader environmental surveillance program that uses hundreds of air, water, vegetation, milk, soil, river sediment and other samples to determine if Vermont Yankee releases contribute to increases in the public’s exposure to radiation. "

Atomfritz said...

Vermont Yankee is a really interesting nuke plant, like some particular other ones in the US fleet.

Rotting structures collapsing, spilling asbestos and radioactivity.
Fires everywhere, leaks everywhere.
Spent fuel pool filled up almost three times more than that of Fukushima unit #4.
Highly flammable electric insulation material, huge risk of electric fire rendering the reactor uncontrollable.
Worn, thinned and brittle reactor and tubing.

I think Vermont Yankee and its american relatives internally don't look much different than the Leningrad NPP which is of the same age.

If you like to enjoy a horror report with many photos that make your hair stand up, read this article written by an engineer who worked there for 28 years:

Atomfritz said...

Yeah! Breaking news!

Now as the Fukushima "cold shutdown" is official and got blessed by a Jaczko under pressure, the NRC today granted design certification to Westinghouse AP1000™ !

The nuclear lobby jubilates!
They are already queuing up to start building four of these legendary radiation spewers ASAP in the USA!

I wonder if this all is connected to the interests of very influential people that are coming over Japan like grasshoppers in Egypt:

And one sad link for the killjoys of you:
If you want a good explanation why this reactor concept is almost as dangerous as a Russian RBMK, read Arnie's presentation and you'll be happy that the reactors in Fukushima were no AP-1000's!

Anonymous said...

The Hindenburg killed the airship industry. Maybe an AP1000 will kill the nuke industry?

nuckelchen said...

by the way:

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