Tuesday, September 20, 2011

TEPCO Admits to 200 to 500 Tonnes of Groundwater Flooding into Bldg Basements Every Day at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant

Here are some numbers from Yomiuri Shinbun article (9/20/2011):

200 to 500 tonnes of groundwater per day to the basements of reactor buildings and turbine buildings of Reactors 1, 2, 3 and 4.

105,000 tonnes of highly contaminated water in the basements at the end of May

90,000 tonnes of this water have been processed by TEPCO up to September 13

102,000 tonnes of highly contaminated water in the basements as of September 13

87,000 tonnes of water added

Of that 87,000 tonnes, estimated 47,000 tonnes were recirculated back into the reactors, leaving 40,000 tonnes of water to have been coming from somewhere.

TEPCO now admits that the rainwater contribution to this amount is only a small portion, and most is from groundwater.

40,000 tonnes divided by 180 days equals is 222 tonnes. Hmmm. Where did that 500 tonnes per day number come from?


Anonymous said...

... maybe because the 40,000 tonnes were a lie :p

Anonymous said...

ah haha huh, you just don't get it, do you, you stupid bastard.

Anonymous said...

If ground water can get in contaminated water can get out too. TEPCO has been trying to say the buildings survived the earthquake but this is hard proof that this isn't true. The building explosions wouldn't damage the massive building foundation or basement level walls The constant aftershocks and typhoons can't be helping the situation either. This is just more proof that Japanese officials are talking out of their ass when they claim they'll reach "cold Shutdown" on any kind of realistic timetable.

Anonymous said...

Dogs in Japan's nuclear zone turning wild


Anonymous said...

This article mentions Ex SKF....

Japan’s Nuclear Disaster: Radiation Still Leaking, Recovery Still Years Away?


Anonymous said...

Wow - good find Anon@11:23. What a well-written, well-researched article. Props to ex-skf for featuring prominently in it. Excellent primer on the disaster and the various issues surrounding it.

Anonymous said...

(cr here) I hope that article gets seen by lots of new people (who are willing to face real problems).

Where, Oh where
have The Coriums gone ?
Oh where, Oh where can they be?...
With the truth cut short
and the lies told long,
Oh where, Oh where can they be?

And here comes the rains again....

Atomfritz said...

Afaik Tepco reported the salinity of the basement water "pools" only once.
This was long ago, when they did the initial water analysis after the first workers who dared to enter the turbine buildings discovered the big lakes there.

I am sure they continuously metered the slowly decreasing salinity, as this is essential in regard to the water decontamination facilities.

If the salinity changes since then would have been published, it would be possible to quite exactly calculate how much water leaked out of the buildings.

Again, with this information it would be easy to calculate how much radioactive stuff leaked into the groundwater.

So I am strongly disappointed that the Japanese nuclear authorities seem not do sampling by their own and just trust Tepco, who is (in-)famous for notorically lying.

Ben Gage said...

I appreciate your work, it's hard to get accurate data in the US.

Doitsujin said...

Great news everyone! The yellow highly radioctive sludge is leaking into the groundwater and everybody is still clueless were the corium in all three reactors is at! I think it is in the basement, slowly grinding through the concrete, I am wondering what will happend when it reaches the ground water and how hot it still is?

The Japanese and the US government must have heat images from Fukushima Daichi, indicating the temperature of the melted cores, but they are not sharing that information with the public. I am wondering why?

netudiant said...

While the site is flooded, the reactor vessels still contain fuel, as the residual temperature readings remain high even though several hundred tons/day of cooling water continue to be injected. The rate of ground water inflow suggests enough damage that it is probable the dry well beneath the reactor vessels is also breached. A new underground barrier would be needed to try to end the ground water inflows, but might not work in any case, given continued earthquakes in the area.
So TEPCO has to plan for a near permanent contaminated water treatment campaign, as the combination of 200-400 ton/day cooling water plus 200-500 ton/day inflows is pretty close to the hoped for 1200 ton/day treatment capacity.
Existing storage capacity for the contaminated filters and processed waste salt water will run out early next year, so more capacity will have to be added. Absent some more coherent longer term plan, Fukushima will become a nuclear waste site quite naturally, simply by solving each problem as it becomes acute. Is this what Japan wants?

Anonymous said...



The official story is a red tide killed the invertebrates. Kuroshio meets California current? The area is 40 miles South of San Francisco CA.

Anonymous said...

I think the large disparity in the leak estimate is just more nuclear industry standard operating procedure. The 200 number is wishful thinking the 500 number is so they can claim they were close when it is found that the leak is actually larger. The actual leak is probably over 500 tons a day the trench levels no longer have anything to do with the true volume of water at the facility. TEPCO has huge tank farms outside the building where they have been storing excess water. I have yet to hear exactly how large this storage volume is for all we know it may dwarf the water stored in the building. I wouldn't put it past TEPCO to separate the two volumes of water and only count the volume in the buildings in their official accounting. I could see their reasoning being the water stored in the tanks doesn't threaten to overflow trenches near the ocean or some such nonsense. Nuclear accidents are a vast exercise in creative accounting and denial nothing would surprise me.

If the in-leaking groundwater is becoming heavily contaminated then TEPCO has managed to created the world's largest perpetual contamination factory with no end in sight. TEPCO claimed months ago that the groundwater contamination moved so slow that they had a year to haggle over who pays to build a super expensive groundwater dam around the facility. Who wants to bet that the building leak has changed the math that assumption was based on? For all they know all the substrate around the plant is rife with fissures.

Anonymous said...

Is it Basalt?

Are there old lava tubes and the like?

Is it like a Tuff,a Pumice,Breccia?

Anonymous said...

I think that we need to keep the scale of this complex in mind. I have done a quick and dirty calculation of the footprint of the basements, as follows:

Reactor Building: 47m (N-S) by 57.4m (E-W)
Turbine Building: 101.3m by 65.6m

Area of Reactor Building: 2,697.8m²
Area of Turbine Building: 6,645.28m²

There are 4 Reactor Buildings and 3 Turbine Buildings whose basements are below the water table. Multiplying the above areas by 4 and 3 respectively gives a total footprint of approximately:


At 200m³/day of groundwater flooding, this would result in an average height of:

0.00651m or about 6.5mm.

At 500m³/day of groundwater flooding, this would result in an average height of:

.0163m or about 16mm.

Assumptions and Observations:

1 ton of water = 1m³
Sea level = OP
Water table = sea level

I have not included the Pump Rooms (2 total) (Sala Pompe) or the Electrical Panel Rooms (2 total) (Sala quadri eletricci) because the sources (see below) says that they are at a level of op+300mm or about 300mm above the water table.

Reactor Building 1 is smaller than 2, 3 and 4, but I couldn't find its dimensions, so the total height would be slightly higher when this corrections is made. Also, the basement of Reactor Building 1 is slightly higher than 2, 3 and 4 (the bottom of the torus of unit 1 is at OP, while the middle of the torus(es) of 2, 3 and 4 are at OP), so it would have less groundwater flooding in millimeters than 2, 3 and 4, which would have proportionally higher flooding. Likewise, the basement of turbine building 1 appears to be above the water table, so it presumed not to flood from groundwater and its footprint is not included in the calculation. It would really be interesting if TEPCO would disclose whether the basement of turbine building 1 also has groundwater flooding. It may be difficult to tell, since all of these basements were flooded by the tsunammi.

Given the large size of these buildings, I don't think it is necessary to invoke significant earthquake damage to explain the basement flooding. It is sufficient that these basements were built below the water table. It is possible, but obviously not certain, that a similar amount of flooding would have happened before the earthquake, hence, as I posted before, sump pumps were used to lower the water table around the buildings to keep the basements dry. This observation should not be interpreted as saying that there was, in fact, no damage from the earthquake.

In reading a number of NRC reports on the consequences of station blackout, I have not found any reference to sump pumps or the effect of groundwater penetration into the reactor buildings (and specifically into the area where the torus is located). My professional opinion is that this is not strictly a nuclear power issue. Industrial installations should not be built so that basements are below the water table and certainly not nuclear installations. In fact, residential construction does not benefit from building below the water table either.


Anonymous said...

Was the local sinking and tilting of the groundmass due to the quake and settling during tremors?

Anonymous said...

I surpose the best that could be hoped for is an eruption of a new volcano a few miles inland that quickly engulfs the site with a vast lava flow.

The odds are not good.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@anon at 12:01PM, yes, probably. The government's earthquake data shows the ground at Fuku I could have shifted more than 2 meters to the east and 50 centimeters down. Movement may have been uneven in different locations in the plant. TEPCO should have detailed measurements, but they haven't released them, as well as so many other data like footage of live video surveillance cameras...

Anonymous said...

I wondered if the prevailing tilt was inland.

It may be the movement of Uranium and Plutonium via the watertable would carry the material inland to form a subterranean roll front that may reach spontaneous criticality intermitently for a few million years.

When Engineering gives way to Geology..

Atomfritz said...

anon 11:50
Thank you for the calculations that illustrate the dimension of the leaking-in groundwater.
If left unattended it could so take less than two month for these buildings to fill up with groundwater if they were originally empty. (They are not.)

However, I disagree with you in that constructions of big size built in the watertable necessary have to leak that much.

In fact I see only two possibilities:
Either the construction quality of foundations and basements of these nuclear buildings is extremely poor.
Or they in fact have been badly damaged.

There are sufficient examples of massive constructions lying in the water table like tunnels of all sorts. Some of them leak a bit of water in, like the Seikan Tunnel, but the quantities are minimal compared with that big gush of about one barrel every few seconds as we seem to have at Fukushima.

As reactors 1-4 have been built on backfill, the underground is very motile in case of earthquake. As the underground sinks locally very differently the foundations inevitably crack open.
And this cracking will continue to extend over time, as the building parts try to settle.

anon 12:08

Yes this would be the ideal solution :)

Anonymous said...

Can there be high pressure liquefaction during intense quakes?

Powerful enough to open the concrete and realise extreme porosity?

Anonymous said...

@ Atomfritz

The buildings are not leaking that much. The surface area of the walls, which I have not calculated, would be in the tens of thousands of square meters. That's a lot of surface area. Concrete is normally quite porous. The examples you gave (underwater tunnels, etc.) use specially formulated concrete and specific construction methods to make them fairly water-tight, but that is not normally done for basements, for cost reasons. As for cracking due to differential settling, I haven't seen any evidence of it, nor would I expect it here, given normal earthquake concrete design principles. The buildings are built on mudstone, which apparently provides a quite solid foundation and one that is not prone to issues like differential settling. It is incorrect that the reactors are built on backfill. Instead, they removed a good bit of the hill that used to be there to get down to the mudstone, as the soil that was there was not considered to be appropriate for this use. I wish they had then backfilled properly (i.e. in layers, compacting with proper fill material) and raised these buildings say 5 more meters. If that had happened, we wouldn't be having this mess.

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