Asahi: Buildings at Fukushima plant can start floating from too much groundwater — Expert: Blocking groundwater with ice wall may weaken soil and cause buildings to topple (AUDIO)

Published: September 18th, 2013 at 9:43 am ET


Asahi Shimbun, Sept. 18, 2013: […] The site receives so much groundwater that special equipment–rendered useless by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami–was set up to prevent the plant’s buildings from floating on the continuous flow. […] The original site of the Fukushima No. 1 plant was a cliff more than 30 meters high. But 20 meters was lopped off […] putting the groundwater level only a few meters below the surface. The plant itself was constructed on land containing gravel layers through which water can easily pass through. In the past, a brook trickled by the No. 4 reactor. […] Without that pumping, the buildings faced the danger of being buoyed by rising groundwater. […] TEPCO officials have pinpointed only two locations, including the turbine building of the No. 1 reactor, where groundwater is entering the building basements. They believe there are many more breaches. […]

Atsunao Marui, head of Groundwater Research Group at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology: “About 4 million tons of rain falls on the plant site over the course of a year. Of that figure, it is believed that between 1 million and 1.5 million tons seep into the ground.”

Gordon Edwards, nuclear expert (at 39:45 in): This underground river that we talked about flowing thorough — the problem with this is they don’t really know how to stop it. […] They really don’t know how to stop this flow because it’s a major aquifer. One of the plans that they are talking about is… a wall of ice a mile long to act as a barrier to prevent the groundwater from going in to the cores of these damaged reactors, in order to try and solve the problem… And nobody knows if it’s actually going to work. In fact, some of the experts in Japan have said that by diverting the groundwater around the sides of the building, you may weaken the soil to the point where the buildings themselves topple — and that could be a far worse problem. So, they really don’t know what they’re going. They literally don’t know what they’re doing.

From Yesterday: Gundersen: Fukushima reactor buildings essentially now sitting in mud — Soil could ‘disappear’ during quake and bring structures down with it; That can result from what Tepco’s doing to groundwater (AUDIO)

Published: September 18th, 2013 at 9:43 am ET


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  2. Gundersen: Fukushima reactor buildings essentially now sitting in mud — Soil could ‘disappear’ during quake and bring structures down with it; That can result from what Tepco’s doing to groundwater (AUDIO) September 17, 2013
  3. Officials concerned ice wall to “trigger significant subsidence” and further endanger reactor buildings — Risk of more nuclear material ‘spilling out’ of basements due to dramatic change in groundwater — Numerous hazards “could undermine the plant” — “Impact on entire situation” still being studied (VIDEO) June 3, 2014
  4. Japan Official: Fukushima reactor buildings could “topple” — Tepco’s work to change flow of groundwater can form pools below surface that soften the earth August 6, 2013
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19 comments to Asahi: Buildings at Fukushima plant can start floating from too much groundwater — Expert: Blocking groundwater with ice wall may weaken soil and cause buildings to topple (AUDIO)

  • Anthony Anthony

    The lesson is to never build these plants again.

  • SteveMT

    They minimize these stark facts. Fukushima was constructed by making a land fill with a gravel pit on the ocean with an aquifer underneath it. How smart is that? They make their explanations sound almost poetic, like it's great prose, but the quotes below read much better.

    "Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters." -Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It

    “Water, water, everywhere, And all the boards did shrink;
    Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink.”
    ― Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

  • hbjon hbjon

    Waiting for Mr. Busby's rendition of "Row row row your reactor wreckage gently down the stream".

  • Wooster

    I'm glad to see the geology of this site finally getting the attention it deserves, because it is crucial to preventing the situation getting even worse, if that is possible.

    This an edited comment on this topic from worth reposting:

    "Nuclear Plants are usually built on a stable rock, and granite is an ideal one: they are not only strong, but also deep-seated. I believe most of the nuclear plants in Japan are built on granite, and if it is not available, on other hard rock such as metamorphic rocks, but not for soft rocks such as sedimentary rock (or soft sediments) which would be *suicidal* in terms of nuclear safety.

    As for Fukushima`s geology, yes, it has been long known that around the Fukushima Daiichi Plant is sedimentary rock Taga Group; around the plant this rock is called the Tomioka Formation, whch is made of coarse sandstone (or Grit) and tuffaceous siltstone. It`s pity that *no* geologists*(as *far as I know)* have warned the vulnebility of the Fukushima Daiichi Plant in terms of geology, as it won't take a rocket science (but so simple and clear) to check this out." continues…

    • Wooster


      "I have talked with some of my colleagues (geology professors) today, and some of them knew for many years/decades that the bed rock of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuke Power Plant is soft sedimentary rock. They do not know why government (both national and local/prefectural) approved for the construction of the plant on such a bad spot, and can only think of *unethical acts of polititians and the industry.* Also, my colleagues warn that the type of bed rock, which geologists identify, and the strength/suitability of the bed rock, which soil/geo-engineers determine, is different, even though I would still support that young sedimentary rocks below the Fukushima Daiichi Nuke Plant is NOT suitable for constructing buildings that have to endure earthquakes. "

  • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

    Perhaps some good news, for a change. Once intercepts inflowing groundwater, and diverts it into the ocean, the worst of the Fukushima Disaster may be over, IMHO. The level of groundwater inside the perimeter of the Frozen Wall/Impermeable Wall can be easily controlled, by adding a bit of groundwater now and again, or pumping out a bit of groundwater at other times. It is the flow of groundwater past underground corium and nuclear debris that must be stopped.

    No buildings will topple. The High Groundwater Level Crisis will end. The "Experts" who contend here that water level problems will persist, or that TEPCO can't stop the contamination of groundwater are not telling the truth.

    To bad that the Frozen Wall will take two years to build, and another year after that to become functional.

    A better idea is to drive interlocking steel pilings 24/7, using a crew on either end. Run an Extended Impermeable Wall in a rectangle around Reactors1-4. Delete the frozen Wall idea completely. Finish the Extended Impermeable Wall in 2014, with no delay after installation as the ground freezes.

    • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

      Very soon now, must abandon the fiction that corium remains within Reactor Buildings1-3. Facts already in evidence now require to acknowledge that Coriums1-3 are in the ground, rather than in the buildings.
      Coriums1-3 are no longer in Reactor Builsings1-3.
      Rather, 250 tons of nuclear fuel is in the ground underneath Reactor Buildings1-3.
      THIS is the source of the heavily contaminated groundwater flowing under the plant buildings.
      THIS is the source of the higher than expected Pacific Ocean contamination.
      THIS is why the water levels in the Containment Vessels is so low.
      THIS is why the water so calm.
      THIS is why the tendrils of steam in the Containment videos are whispy.
      If the corium was still inside the Containment Vessels, the steam would be thick, and the water would be boiling.

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    I fear it'll cave in and start a giant nuclear chain reaction.

  • PragmaticBeliever

    Nice picture… except for the "almost confirmed fact" that there´s no more CONTAINMENT VESSEL or REACTOR PRESSURE VESELL in 3 of those buildings. And they forgot to mention the CONFIRMED FACT that you can´t get near the coriums without the little problem of dying a horrible death.

    So, an ice wall near the reactors? Who´s going to build it? Iron Man? I don´t think so…

    It´s a nice infography, but wrong in many ways. It seems to note that the Fuk-U-shima problem can be fixed in a normal way… when in truth it simply can´t…

    At least here in Argentina we have only two of those monsters…. Siemens type, and in the least sismic region in the entire Solar System… But, there´s one more in the build…

    So, not entirely safe at all…

  • We Not They Finally

    And you have to love the part about, they carefully tested and measured the water, teaspoonful by teaspoonful, and the contaminated water went into already-overflowing tanks, and the "non-contaminated" water went to the sea. And all in the middle of a frigging TYPHOON!! That takes more than poetic talent.

  • Jebus Jebus

    The blame game…
    It's not the Nuclear Industries disaster, it's Tepco's disaster.

    Japan balked at steps to control Fukushima water in 2011: memo

    (Reuters) – Japanese authorities, now struggling to contain leaks of radioactive groundwater from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, were urged two years ago by U.S. experts to take immediate steps to prevent groundwater contamination but decided not to act on the advice.

    The advice to the embattled operator was outlined in a memo to government officials just two months after the accident, but then shelved, according to two officials who participated in the discussions and documents prepared by both governments and the utility.

    Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) successfully lobbied against a proposed barrier wall because the cost could have stirred speculation it would be driven into bankruptcy.

  • markww markww

    A year ago I made a way to stop this problem. Inject the elements and cooncrete with crushed Styrofoam fibers and inject under the buildings and cracks to seal from filling with the Nasty radioactive water.

    Once sealed and no more radiation goes into the Pacific, build horizontal large filters with the elements I mentioned in other posts and re filter water and clean water already stored and replenish.