Sunday, April 3, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: More on Polymer+Newspaper+Sawdust Failure

More details of the failed (so far) and tragi-comical attempt to plug the pit that has been leaking the highly radioactive water from the Reactor 2 (but who knows from which, exactly?) freely into the ocean, from various news sources in Japan (here, here, here, here, all in Japanese; and I heard it myself in the TEPCO presser):

  • 8 kilograms (17.6 pounds) of water-absorbing polymer in 80 bags that will expand 50 times (the image from the presser, A TEPCO manager holding a bag of the said polymer that his company used, by NicoNico News).

  • 60 kilograms (132 pounds) of sawdust in 20 3-kilo bags

  • 3 garbage bags full of shredded newspaper

  • The same polymer is used in disposable diapers, feminine napkins, gardening, emergency sand bags.

  • Concrete poured on April 1 to try to stop the flow failed to harden due to the presence of water.

TEPCO had said they were bringing in an expert on this specialty polymer to devise a plan.

So the plan was to use 80 100-gram (3.5-ounce) bags of this polymer (from Home Depot equivalent??), sawdust, and have workers at the plant shred old newspapers, and pour all that into a duct upstream that connects to the pit in question, without even making sure that that's where the water was flowing.

I have a feeling that if TEPCO had asked, any company that uses this polymer in large quantity would have rushed the polymer in much bigger quantity in much bigger bags immediately.

Judging from the sad fact that this, or the concrete pour the previous day, didn't stop or even slow down the gushing of water from the pit's "crack" (which still looks like a regular drain hole to me), that the water coming into the pit must be coming from somewhere else entirely.

And about the concrete.. From all I can figure, it was a regular concrete. I guess they didn't want to pay extra at their Home Depot equivalent to buy concrete that hardens even in the presence of water.

TEPCO is known for relentless cost-cutting.

And you would need to tap down to make sure all the cracks and holes are filled. It looks like they had poured the concrete and shove it to the side where the "crack" was, hoping that the concrete would somehow fill the "crack".

Or you would pour concrete with enough pressure so that such cracks and holes would be filled.

I wonder if they even used a concrete mixer. They do have concrete pumps on site. Please don't tell me someone mixed the concrete at the side of the pit and used the shovel to fill it...

All TEPCO needed to do was to ask.

On polymer, ask any big manufacturers of diapers, napkins, garden supplies for the bigger bags of the polymer, on how best to use it.

On concrete, ask companies like Sumitomo Cement who has all the expertise in the world. There are numerous small companies in Japan who have expertise in underwater concrete work. They could have asked any one of them on how to approach the problem.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for updates. You are doing a great job.

Friend from Zero Hedge

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for all your efforts I caught you over at ZH and followed you here for more unfiltered information. As for the poor efforts they have been putting forth in stemming the "tide" I think a lot of it has to do with the high radiation level in the area. I'm sure there are lots of things they could normally do but I bet most of them are unthinkable in the short time workers have to preform the operation. I'm sure you know the radiation detectors are inadequate for properly measuring the rad levels involved I bet most of the workers are coming to realize this too. As for the lack of proper radiation protection simple X-ray film can be use as a very cheap high dose dosimeter so their lack of dosimeter is part of the plan. If you can't prove your exposure rate it is harder to get compensation and TEPCO's lawyers knows it.

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