Wednesday, May 1, 2013

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Was TEPCO Using Used Bottle to Collect Water Samples from the Pond Leak?

As I posted on Monday, TEPCO announced a 10-fold spike in radioactive materials (all-beta) in the water sample collected from soil just outside the thin (6.4 millimeter-thick) bentonite layer of the in-the-ground water storage pond No.1.

In the successive email alert for the press (which they know post on their homepage press release section), TEPCO sort of tell us what they think was the cause for the spike:

A used bottle that previously collected samples.

TEPCO doesn't say it outright, but instead, from their email alert for the press regarding the pond leak (No. 110) on April 28, 2013:


When we collected the water samples from the drain hole (southwest) of the in-the-ground water storage pond No.1 in the morning and in the afternoon today [April 28, 2013], we used brand-new sampling bottles to avoid contamination of the water collected. Then the amount of [radioactive materials in the water] dropped to the same low level as the one on April 26. Therefore, we now assume the possibility that the water collected on April 27 from the southwest drain hole of the pond No.1 got somehow contaminated.

which I take it to mean they were using used bottles to collect highly radioactive water samples until April 28.

It is little wonder why there is no "end-state" vision for the plant.


Atomfritz said...

Now I really feel that Tepco could be trying to kidding us.

Honestly, I never would have dreamed of such.

First, reusing of one-way-equipment like the way that Tepco suggested is typical to fourth-world-countries. I have hard difficulties to believe that Tepco workers reuse sample containers worth 2, or maybe 5 cents. This isn't Burkina Faso, isn't it?

Second, assuming that it's really true that Tepco reused these few-cent-items instead of disposing of them: then the question arises: How radioactive must the previous sample taken with that particular sampling flask have been to so heavily contaminate the next sample?

I can't help it.
I am shaking my head in disbelief.
Is it just Tepco, or is it typical today's Japan?
Sorry, please excuse my ignorance.

Atomfritz said...

If Tepco feels the need to _expressively_ mention that they used "brand-new" sampling bottles, this really should make one ask whether this shouldn't be standard anyway.

Really thank you again LaPrimavera for peeking behind the camouflage of Tepcospeak and exposing what they try to hide!

netudiant said...

The data collection effort here is clearly pro forma, as evidenced by the 'brand new bottle' comment.
While I have some sympathy for this view, seen that TEPCO is still very much engaged in trench warfare against an ongoing catastrophe, the apparent disregard of the more peripheral issues such as the leaking storage tanks is bad management.
None of the problems go away in this situation, they just get worse, so doing it right the first time is really the cheapest and best policy.
The kind of penny wise, pound foolish behavior seen here is often found in very hierarchical organizations, where the individual fiefdoms do not adjust easily to new directives. It was a hope that the shock of the accident would galvanize the TEPCO organization with a resolve to do better, but perhaps that was a vain hope.

cheap nfl jerseys said...

Maybe I also focused on such things.

Anonymous said...

It's things like these that make all too clear how much trust one can put into the safe operation of all things nuclear. No matter what equipment or technology is available, we humans find a way to fail the simplest of tasks.

Mike said...

Perhaps Tepco has made the decision that they would rather appear to have made an incompetent mistake in the measurment, rather than deal with a cleanup problem that is an order of magnitude larger than previously reported.

Anonymous said...

Mike, very good point and, imho, the most plausible interpretation. It's a stretch to my imagination that one could deliberately or accidentally use one or more previously used bottles.
The only other thoughts I had was that a batch of new bottles somehow got contaminated in the storage area or that the sample itself became contaminated after it was taken, both equally unpleasant to explain.
One way or another, Tepco's explanation/conclusion doesn't seem to hold a lot of water (pun intended) unless it's a cope-out.

Anonymous said...

Off topic: NHK "educational" channel just aired a piece of nuclear energy propaganda camouflged as a university lecture ("Physics for Presidents" by Berkeley professor Richard Muller, which means physics without any math...).

Among other things, the lecture explains that nuclear is not expensive but just has a high upfront cost -- without going into details like who pays for used fuel disposal and accidents.


Atomfritz said...

And now the water from the leak detection holes already approaches 7000 Bq/l gamma and 10 million Bq/l beta [*]. (Hopefully this time measured with unused bottles)

It's like a tailings dam bursting in slow-motion.


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