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Flooding complicates clean-up at Fukushima plant

22 Comments
By James Topham and Mari Saito

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22 Comments
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How does the groundwater get into the buildings?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

WOW! now ground water pollution too...dammit TEPCO

@gonemad: How does the groundwater get into the buildings?

Water is liquid media, flows from higher ground to lower ground. Since the plant is situated lower than the surrounding ground level (most probably it is situated underground). As the article says water is entering through the cracks and holes.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Don't take TEPCO's word on anything. Have everything they do independently assessed. TEPCO will bleed the government dry. Once the money's gone they'll say they've finished the job.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Thanks JT for keeping the issue in view. It seems most other news sources are replaying the Tsunami and not this serious on going situation.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

"Clean, cheap and...SAFE" !!!

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I should have also put emphasis on "CLEAN" and even more especially on "CHEAP"...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What a mess!

And Abe wants to commission more reactors!

Think I'll move to New Zealand before the merde hits the portable ventilation system!

4 ( +6 / -1 )

to stop the groundwater flowing from high ground into the buildings

ahhhhhh so its a problem that the water is running down from higher ground? GENIUS THOUGHT IN... 3.... 2.... 1....

if Fukushima was built on higher ground instead of TEPCO lowering the ground during construction this problem wouldnt exist.. oh wait, and these nuclear meltdowns wouldnt have actually occurred!!!

1 ( +4 / -2 )

Let me get this straight ... water is leaking into the plant?

So in a way, the leaks are helping keep the temperature down in the broken reactors, right?

But, but ... if tons of water is leaking into the reactor everyday, where is it going?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

As we know the ad-hoc, dead ending 'solutions' are grinding on regardless, look at how much contaminated water is now being stored, think how much water that is. Think about how much is leaking into the environment. The task of resolving that singular issue is daunting enough, never mind the multitude of problems concerning these still ongoing Level 7 catastrophes. Also, let's get it said, at least one of the catastrophes at Dai-Ichi --as that is what it is a MULTI catastrophic event-- is NOT a meltdown but a melt though, I'd argue that both Unit 2 and Unit 3, the MOX fuel reactor, are melt throughs. That is terrifying. Absolutely. Corium masses sat on concrete mats, eating away at them, cooled by a system that is barely effective. The government needs to get a much firmer grip on the people doing the delegating of work, the men and women at ground zero are being shafted, they need protecting.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/10693919

The process must be overseen by competent professionals, an international body even, because the scale and depth of these catastrophes are so beyond the abilities of TEPCO that living in fear seems to be the only option. How can we trust TEPCO? We can not, we must not.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

From a public safety and environmental perspective, this is good news. Water seeping into the plant means the pressure inside is lower than outside. This means that whatever contamination is inside the plant is staying inside the plant. It would be terrible if it was the other way around; last thing we need is tons of contaminated water migrating into the groundwater.

From a logistics standpoint, however, this does make things more complicated. A simple patch job taking 5 minutes can turn into a 1 hour marathon when you put it under water.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@waltery

It seems most other news sources are replaying the Tsunami and not this serious on going situation.

That could be seen as insensitive to the 19,000 lost lives caused by the tsunami. Hopefully you didn't mean it that way?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I've read an article that says that reactor two has shown indications of the past year that molten fuel has already spilled out of the reactor. I found another article (from another source, AJ) reports that Fukushima's forests are now 70% highly radioactive, and that it's now but only in the leaves and ground , but in the trees themselves, indicating groundwater contamination. Whatever flooding is happening, it's clearly finding its way back into the waterways.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Assuming your sources are correct, of course, and not just more fearmongering.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

@cabadaje, yes, that's right. Assuming those sources are correct and not just fear mongering. Though being the globally resources news sources that they are, and their independence from the Japanese nuclear industry, I don't see any reason to be suspicious of their reports' authenticity.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Respected, not resources. Apologies for the autocorrect.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@lesenfant

ahhhhhh so its a problem that the water is running down from higher ground? GENIUS THOUGHT IN... 3.... 2.... 1....if Fukushima was built on higher ground instead of TEPCO lowering the ground during construction this problem wouldnt exist.. oh wait, and these nuclear meltdowns wouldnt have actually occurred!!!

One of the reasons they lowered the ground was so that the reactor could sit on solid bedrock, which added earthquake protection. Considering the damage that may have occurred during the earthquake itself while the building was on a secure foundation, had the plant been at the previous height with the less stable rock underneath, who knows what would have occurred? It hasn't taken tsunamis to cause meltdowns before.

As all engineering projects go, this is a shoulda/coulda/woulda sort of thing. I'm not sure how you would have convinced the stakeholders that the bedrock height, which still had a x2.5 margin of safety over the 100-year tsunami height, was worth the money, particularly with the whole earthquake thing. After all, 30 years ago tsunami's were nowhere near as menacing a threat as earthquakes, and having to decide between a stronger foundation that was safer and cheaper to run or the possibility that a tsunami 2.5 times the size of the largest one to hit this area in 100 years, must have seemed like a no-brainer.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

@Magnet

yes, that's right. Assuming those sources are correct and not just fear mongering. Though being the globally resources news sources that they are, and their independence from the Japanese nuclear industry, I don't see any reason to be suspicious of their reports' authenticity.

Unfortunately, the rest of us can't really tell whether they are indeed globally respected news sources. I had someone refer to FOX news as that once.

Can you give me any keywords to search for? I am particularly interested in information about the plant after the earthquake, but prior to the tsunami.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Groundwater won't run uphill, and it it will have a gradual lowering gradient to wherever it can find its way, eventually, either into rivers or the sea. Where the Fukushima plants are concerned, the only way it will travel into the reactor spaces will effectively be horizontally. Therefore it's only a few metres below the ground surface.

Some posters are right that a continual inflow of the groundwater should prevent any radioactive leakages outwards into the environment.

But I assume that what is causing the most trouble from ground water is that it is restricting access to the reactor cores until its ingress can be stopped. How the primary containments in which the cores are located were breached, except by human intervention, I wouldn't otherwise know. Or why such breaches had to be done at all. I don't think that there was any evidence that the breaches were the direct result of the earthquake. The question in my mind is: was it necessary to make them in the first place?

But with all the residual concerns arising from the accident in March 2011, with no one having actually died from any radiation exposures (and yes, I do appreciate that a few people may die from radiation exposure over the next 40 years from radiation induced cancers), all the unfortunate deaths in March 2011 were associated with the actual tsunami.

What I would have thought the Japanese would have been getting far more uptight about is the political situation raised by recent UN increased restrictions on N. Korea, with the latter seemingly retaliating by threatening to start a nuclear war. It doesn't even look as though they will ask themselves what the consequences would be, worldwide: do they even care? Or is the threat nothing more than hot air? But they can certainly threaten with their nuclear capability, using long distance rockets. Surely this is now a far more serious issue?

The spread of airborne radioactivity from a number of nuclear bombs will leave airborne contamination for decades, as resulted from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, and all the nuclear tests which were carried out above ground in the 50s and 60s, until they were stopped in favour of underground tests. Radionuclides with varying half lives will be deposited on the ground, to stay there for times varying from a few tens of years to millions of years.

It remains a complete mystery to me who the N Koreans are; that they seemingly believe themselves to be such an important nation to want a nuclear capacity at all. Do they really wish to dominate the world - with China next door? A major nuclear war would decimate the world's population with the deposited radioactivity. But it might give evolution a chance to counter the harmful effects - I wonder?

"He whom the Grand Designer wisheth to destroy, he first maketh mad".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yep. Clean cheap and safe. Time to suck taxpayers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ahhh ... the open door....

the horse gone....

back to twigs and chips to keep us warm.

and bring you the internet

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As the article says water is entering through the cracks and holes.

Believe me, I can read. Therefore, there's a little bit more behind my simple question. Where do the cracks and holes come from? From the explosions? Probably not. From the earthquake? It would confirm that the plant was not sufficiently quake-proof. From corium which burnt it's way through the base? Hopefully not...

The fact that TEPCO has chosen to build a bypass seems to indicate that the locations of the cracks are in places which they expect they cannot access in the foreseeable future. I hope it is not based on a simple cost calculation. Because once the bypass becomes active, any highly radioactive cooling water which gets into the basement will then leak into the environment.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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