Wednesday, October 19, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: 450 Tonnes of Groundwater Per Day Seeping into Reactor/Turbine Bldgs

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...


Anonymous said...

A more compact system would be nice. Only it means hooking up return pipes somewhere in the reactor buildings, directly to the PCVs or even the suppression chambers.

Not the easiest thing to do, even supposing that the aforementioned structures can be made watertight, which they obviously are not at the moment.

TL;DR: Matsumoto's on crack.

Anonymous said...

"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."

The basements did not leak like that before the quake, so the foundations are damaged, water is gaining access.

"hooking up return pipes somewhere in the reactor buildings, directly to the PCVs or even the suppression chambers."

Christ, stick the damned pipe in the hole in the floor w/the 4.7Sievert.

How they gonna make them watertight, send divers down to patch foot long cracks in the foundations?

Anonymous said...

the only way to fix these structures would be to dig trenches around them and pour more concrete into the areas that are compromised.

netudiant said...

The proposed use of coagulants to seal the reactor site from the turbine hall is presumably aimed at this problem.
It has worked before, afaik, in the case of the ocean leakage from the site.
The problem here is that the leak paths are entirely unknown. Where to inject the coagulant is a mystery. In addition, drilling down to create a sealed section underground is very difficult when the drill site may be seriously radioactive.
Nevertheless, in a sense, this is good news.
TEPCO is at the stage where they can begin to think about how to begin to cope with the actual site, as opposed to just the radiation and debris.

DD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DD said...

Following the original post: Is there some weird form of drama that informs the thinking processes of nuclear power engineers on this site? black comedy? They just seem to be going round in circles. To me, it seems as if there are several chains of command in action, all confusing each other and not in any way trying to coordinate. Just a farce, a black farce. I don't know Japanese theatre, but maybe there are some traditional dramas that work this way. It would be nice to have this confirmed or refuted.

To netudiant, I would like to tease out your logic a bit, and maybe you can explain why "in a sense, this is good news" when "the leak paths are entirely unknown" and "the drill site may be seriously radioactive".

I would add that as the turbine hall basements are below sea level then in any non radioactive environment the construction of a lower level floor seal would be a considerable engineering achievement.

I would like some reflection on this being no time to assert that we are soon out of the woods on this one.

Viola said...

Not to forget that both systems, the Areva one and the Sarry one, produce lots of nuclear waste on top. The more water has to be treated, the more waste will be produced. Not only their water tanks are increasing.

Anonymous said...


If the turbine hall basements are below sea level, is the sea the most likely source of the 'ground water' invasion?

Anonymous said...

From: Dark NRG, London. A top British nuclear scientist who studied Chernobyl extensively, this morning said, Fukushima is already far worse. High radiation is being found 30km offshore in the sea. Fish are testing highly radioactive. Rain that is falling all over Japan is heavily contaminated. Drinking water will soon be contaminated, meaning it will get into the whole food chain, animals, fish, seaweed and rice crops. Tokyo is at huge risk. Wind and rain are quickly contaminating the city. He stated that his figures indicate possibly 100,000 people will get sick and many newborn babies will have genetic deformities and serious diseases such as leukemia. He does not believe that there will be a cold shutdown any time soon, in fact he said figures, reports and photos this week suggest a possible full nuclear explosion, such as from a huge atomic bomb, may occur. His figures suggest at least 2 reactors and spent fuel pools are reaching critical mass in runaway nuclear reactions. He believes that very soon, no matter how much water is pumped in, it is now a runaway situation. This radio interview went to air today. The scientist was absolutely distraught and I believe he was even holding back a deeper concern due to other things he knows but he would not say.

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