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Radioactive water overflows barriers at Fukushima plant during heavy rain

34 Comments
By Antoni Slodkowski

Highly radioactive water overflowed barriers into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, its operating utility said on Monday, after it underestimated how much rain would fall at the plant and failed to pump it out quickly enough.

The utility, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) has been battling to contain radioactive water at the nuclear complex, which suffered meltdowns and hydrogen explosions following a devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

Dealing with hundreds of tons of groundwater flowing through the wrecked nuclear plant daily is a constant headache for the utility and for the government, casting doubt on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's promises that the Fukushima water "situation is under control."

After heavy rain on Sunday, water with high levels of radioactive strontium overflowed containment areas built around some 1,000 tanks storing tons of radioactive water at the plant, TEPCO said. The radioactive water is a by-product of an improvised cooling system designed to keep the wrecked reactors under control in case of further disaster.

TEPCO said it had planned to pump out the accumulating rainwater into empty tanks, check it for radioactivity, and if it was uncontaminated, release into the sea. But the company was overwhelmed by the amount of rainwater.

"Our pumps could not keep up with the rainwater. As a result, it flowed over some containment areas," said Tepco spokesman Yoshikazu Nagai. The company had planned for 30 to 40 millimeters of rainfall on Sunday, but by late afternoon the rainfall already stood at around 100 millimeters, he said.

The ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant highlights the immensity of the task of containing and controlling radioactive water and eventually decommissioning the plant, processes expected to take decades.

In the latest incident, containment areas surrounding 12 of 23 groups of tanks overflowed, with one of them containing Strontium-90 as highly concentrated as 710 becquerels per liter - 71 times higher than the level set by the company as safe for release.

Strontium-90 is a by-product of the fission of uranium and plutonium in nuclear reactors as well as nuclear weapons, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says on its website.

TEPCO said it will prepare some 30 extra pumps and lay additional 10 kilometers of pipes to prevent overflowing from happening again.

The utility has come under increased scrutiny after it found in August that 300 tons of highly radioactive water had leaked from one of the hastily built storage tanks at the Fukushima site.

TEPCO is seeking permission to restart its only remaining viable plant - Kashiwazaki Kariwa, the world's largest nuclear power station, to cut high fuel costs and restore its finances.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2013.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

34 Comments
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So only now they'll rethink their containment system? After how many leaks and mess ups? Rain water shouldn't be able to mix with the radio active water. The radio active water needs to be in tanks- enclosed tanks. I'm sure the water wasn't tested, and I doubt it will be in future.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

And they have recently allowed fishermen back into the waters of Fukushima......At least they won't need lights when night fishing cause all the fish will be glowing.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

aralia, it is in tanks, enclosed tanks.

Under each set of tanks is a concrete floor with a perimeter ledge to hold in any spills. These trays are usually already about half full with semi-radioactive tank spill. The heavy rain from last week's typhoon caused the containment areas to overflow as the feeble pumps can only lower the water level about two cm a day.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"The utility, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) has been battling to contain radioactive water at the nuclear complex...."

Bb-b-b-b-but it's 'under control', isn't it?

"TEPCO is seeking permission to restart its only remaining viable plant - Kashiwazaki Kariwa, the world’s largest nuclear power station, to cut high fuel costs and restore its finances."

Of course it is -- leaking continues and yet they are still thinking solely about money. And cut high fuel costs to whom? To the company, of course, for the generators it needs because it didn't plan ahead for the tsunami two and a half years ago.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Gasp.

Um, excuse me!

Is the Pacific Ocean Japan's private nuclear waste dump?

5 ( +7 / -2 )

It seems that TEPCO is forever battling to contain the radioactive water at the nuclear complex, Its pumps are battling to keep up with the rainwater and they are battling to come up with a solution, won't be long they will be battling to survive as a going concern.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Is the Pacific Ocean Japan's private nuclear waste dump?

No it's a public nuclear waste dump.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Another false reporting by Japan Today. The barriers were fully down and radioactive water allowed to flow freely into the Pacific Ocean. When this is being done daily why the need for such a report? Who is bluffing whom?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Another false reporting by Japan Today. The barriers were fully down and radioactive water allowed to flow freely into the Pacific Ocean. When this is being done daily why the need for such a report? Who is bluffing whom?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Highly radioactive water overflowed barriers into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, its operating utility said on Monday, after it underestimated how much rain would fall at the plant and failed to pump it out quickly enough.

I'm pretty sure nobody is surprised at this.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Maybe they should change the name from TEPCO to CRAPCO!

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Doesn`t matter what they do they can get away with anything. They are a huge corporation. Yet if I litter I get in deep crap. We are all being played as fools.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

These bonzo's can't estimate anything, never build anything correctly, the only thing Tepco can be counted on doing is mess it all up!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

C'mon, no one is surprised by now. Every event will be an excuse to dump more waste into the Pacific since it saves the company money to do so.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Like I said in another TEPCO thread, I was waiting for an article like this.

Lets see what stupid news comes out of the next typhoon/storm.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I'm beginning to think that no company can be this stupid, every time, 100% of the time. Maybe it's a ploy to think the company so dumb while never missing a moment to clandestinely shovel waste into the Pacific at every opportune time.

Reduces international condemnation and public outcry while allowing operations to continue.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The real world is a perpetual surprise to TEPCO.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

That "safe" seafood isn't looking so safe now.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Blame it on the rain...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Those big 'ol barriers are 30 centimeters (11.8 inches) high... about as high as a toy poodle when it rolls over.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Telco and the government are stifling incompetent who will step up and help?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

gogogoOCT. 21, 2013 - 06:15PM JST That "safe" seafood isn't looking so safe now.

Yes, I've been saying that for some time.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

OK,

This:

"After heavy rain on Sunday, water with high levels of radioactive strontium overflowed containment areas"

Does not follow from this:

"containment areas surrounding 12 of 23 groups of tanks overflowed, with one of them containing Strontium-90 as highly concentrated as 710 becquerels per liter - 71 times higher than the level set by the company as safe for release."

The latter says the strontium-90 is in the tanks. The containment areas are there to keep any tank spillages from going further - but also fill up with rainwater too, which seems to be the case here.

More poor scientific comprehension from Newswire companies?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Chronic- Thank you for explaining, I didn't realize that's how they're built. I was so angry that they weren't enclosed. I can't believe they've had this much trouble from enclosed tanks. Oh wait, it's TEPCO so I can...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

52: "All countries should ban any food produced in Japan."

Agreed. That and threaten to take away the Tokyo Olympics and something might actually get done besides Abe eating some vetted up fish and constantly declaring everything is under control while asking for help from abroad.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Opps! Sorry, that post above was for nandakandamanda.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The company had planned for 30 to 40 millimeters of rainfall on Sunday, but by late afternoon the rainfall already stood at around 100 millimeters, he said.

Like Japan has no history of tsunamis, Japan has no history of taifuns and heavy rains. So why spend some money on things which will never happen? It would hurt the bottom line and we just announced that we want to be profitable in 2013. Everything is under control, the bonuses are secured...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The posters on JT predicted this would happen. It would seem that we could do a better job of managing Fukushima than TEPCO can. TEPCO management is inept.

I wonder if they are still fishing offshore?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Srontium-90. Not good.

Strontium-90 is a "bone seeker" that exhibits biochemical behavior similar to calcium, the next lighter group 2 element. After entering the organism, most often by ingestion with contaminated food or water, about 70–80% of the dose gets excreted. Virtually all remaining strontium-90 is deposited in bones and bone marrow, with the remaining 1% remaining in blood and soft tissues. Its presence in bones can cause bone cancer, cancer of nearby tissues, and leukemia.

Wikipedia

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's clear TEPCO is way in over their head and it's time to bring in the nuclear waste management experts from France or America to handle this mess. It maybe embarrasing but who cares...something needs to be done now and TEPCO wasted 2 years of it... time is running out and there is no more time for but, but or uhm, uhm from TEPCO or the GOVT.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I her they have eagerly been waiting for any signs of rain to empty the tanks and give way for more contaminated water as they were short of storage space. Not the first time this happens, remember?!!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Typhoon approaching this weekend. Can anyone write next Monday's JT headline about TEPCO? We could just save time and use the headline above this article...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sorry if it's been asked, but does anyone know a comprehensive list of all of Tepco's mistakes? From the leaks, to the rat in the wires to Abe's name being mistaken. We see news like this weekly, but I'd really like to see the full list... I imagine it would be quite staggering.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This storm was the perfect way for TEPCO to empty thousands of litters of highly radioactive water into the the ocean while claiming that the storm did it all.

How many times will TEPCO lie and get away with it?

To be able to do what TEPCO does requires 'MASSIVE' pay-offs to the right people in the Japanese government.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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