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 17th, 2013 at 2:33 pm ET
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Title: Fukushima with Arnie Gundersen
Source: KZYX’s Renewable Energy Hour
Hosts: Doug Livingston and Jeff Oldham
Date: Sept. 9, 2013

At 30:30 in

Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Energy Education:

The seismic response of these buildings is not really designed for moist soil. The soil’s a lot wetter now than it was when the plants were designed.

So, now you’ve got plants essentially sitting in a mud. And so their seismic response in the event of a severe earthquake is going to be much worse – in other words they might topple.

If they build and keep the water in, they risk changing the seismic characteristics of the building, and that’s not a good thing […] something called liquefaction — when you have water and soil together and you shake it just right – the soil essentially disappears, taking buildings with it.

It can happen at Daiichi because of the things that Tokyo Electric is doing to keep the radiation from getting into Pacific.

See also: Japan Official: Fukushima reactor buildings could "topple" -- Tepco's work to change flow of groundwater can form pools below surface that soften the earth

Full broadcast here

Published: September 17th, 2013 at 2:33 pm ET
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36 comments to 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)

  • SteveMT

    Fukushima is still doing better than is TEPCO. Fukushima is sitting in mud, but TEPCO is standing waist-deep in mud. Which one will be the first one to go down completely is the question? If TEPCO goes first, there will at least be a chance to save Fukushima. If the reverse occurs, there will be nothing worth saving.


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    • dosdos dosdos

      Seeing how TEPCO is standing on the shoulders of the Japanese taxpayers who have no choice but to be there, it's probably going to be the plant that goes first.


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    • Flapdoodle Flapdoodle

      Yes, and that leaves us up to our necks in s**t.


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    • dka

      What TEPCO is doing is what the Japanese government has decided to do. Japan can take actions to decide how to deal with this crisis differently than how TEPCO is handling it.
      Japan is washing its hands in Fukushima water.


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      • HoTaters

        Does this mean a bunch of bureaucrats are now making decisions which should rightfully belong to scientists and engineers?


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        • HoTaters

          That is, the right to make the decisions should belong to those qualified — the scientists and engineers.


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          • MoonlightEmpire MoonlightEmpire

            It is/was those same scientists and engineers–all over the world–that designed and built all of these extinction machines. And now, so many are begging for the scientists and engineers to fix the problems they created.

            Newsflash to the world: None of these problems can be solved by scientists and engineers…they are the very reason the world is in this mess. No, your solutions will not come from the "qualified", but rather, from the nameless, credential-less men and women who stand for what is right. Everyone must stand together against Nuclear and every other commercial and industrial development in every form…or die together, buried in its waste products.

            Choose now.

            As for the statements on liquifaction during a quake at Daiichi, it's not a question of if, but when…and "when" gets sooner with each passing day. There is no need to guess/wonder/speculate: 100% fuel load at the entire Daiichi complex will be released, plus all stored water…unless everyone changes their own behaviors, now.


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  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    "Soil could 'disappear'".
    Liquefaction/landslide/further subsidence …would be more accurate.


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  • davidh7426 davidh7426

    I wonder if this could be one of the surprises that Tepco's head clown mentioned !!


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    • bwoodfield bwoodfield

      No the surprise is going to to they've started just dumping all the stored water, stopped pumping out the basements, and are now walking away from the site.

      "We have decided that it is no longer financially fees-able to maintain the Fukushima NPP so we here-by donate it and the land to the people of Japan. We hope they will be grateful and use this marvelous gift to the fullest potential."


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  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    Northern Hemisphere is witnessing what nuclear is. Not fun times at all.


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  • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

    Sadly most of them are clueless…of what this way comes!


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  • Mr. Gunderson also mentioned that after a couple of years the fuel would be cool enough that a fuel pool fire won't happen. Thats good news. Also said tepco does not have the chemicals on site to combat a fire if it happened. This is just a cheap cost cutting move on TepGov's part. Until somebody decides to put serious money into this thing nothing will be remediated. If not Tepco then the Japanese government which seems intent on bringing the Olympics to Tokyo. Right now the Japanese government has majority stocks and thus is in control now. Arnie says an engineering company should takeover but I don't see that happening. Japan government doesn't want to hear ideas that cost money, especially from foreign scientists. I know there is a good reason(for him) why but what that reason is escapes me why Obummer won't deal with this it looks like he is a silent accomplice.


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    • flybynite flybynite

      I heard in the Gunderson interview Tepco said" there is nothing in the fuel pools to catch fire." It means they don't think fuel rods can burn in air, OR There is NOTHING in them to burn. Which one do you think they meant?


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  • weeman

    I am more worried about liquefication of the soil around tank farm than the actual buildings, although both are possibilities, the tanks will be first to go.
    Freeze the ground around tanks at same time as ice wall?


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  • SteveMT

    This story about the Costa Concordia really grabbed me. This ship was finally righted today after a 20-month-long ordeal involving meticulous planning with the best engineers in the world. They worked diligently to right this ship, a very low priority in comparison to Fukushima. The world's priorities are screwed up to say the least.

    The caption on picture #56 really caught my attention:
    "An international team of engineers is trying a never-before attempted strategy to set upright the luxury liner, which capsized after striking a reef in 2012 killing 32 people. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)"
    Costa Concordia Salvage Operation Completed In Italy
    09/16/13 11:47 PM ET EDT AP
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/16/costa-concordia-salvage-operation_n_3933227.html#slide=2918318


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    • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

      Steve, I think you are trying to compare two different worlds.

      Do you think if there was a cracked Nuclear Radioactive Core emanating from the bowels of that ship that any team of engineers would show up to salvage the ship?

      Would this specialized engineering team sacrifice their lives for that glowing ship that has no value?

      Nope..not going to happen!

      When things start to shed a radioactive glow the smartest are going to be the last in the row…

      21st and I went around about this in the past..nobody wants to die and/or put themselves in harms way. Here is a typical example of shoot first, protect your self first and this is starting to become the norm..
      http://rt.com/usa/crash-farrell-shot-police-894/


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      • SteveMT

        Yup. Two entirely different worlds. The radioactive world and the non-. Thanks.


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      • MichaelV MichaelV

        That's how you see it, but truth can't be relative, Jedi…

        Try on a brown hue and THEN take a long walk through your very own neighborhood, at night and knocking on doors.

        There may exist engineering talent that could salvage/ remediate a meltdown disaster (see Mark's plan to infuse rack assemblies with a slurry of ground glass,.boron, ceramic tiles, etc…once set will be lifted into encasements)

        We need fewer experts and more persons of action.

        There are great minds along this thread.


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    • weeman

      800 million to right and dispose of ship, more money than has been put aside to build ice wall, joke is on us.


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    • unincredulous unincredulous

      I guess they will rearrange the deck chairs and plop it back down again.


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  • As Gunderson said,( although its not rocket science, any fool can see) the underground river needs to, or should have been, paraphrasing Gunderson, diverted above the meltdown and then radioactive groundwater can be pumped out and ground can dry out. If outside engineers come in they will laugh at the duct tape, skinflint, cheapskate ineptitude that has punctuated the response. Then they will ask for trillions of yen…….good luck with that.

    Weeman the tank farm utilized bolt together prefab technology, another cheapskate move. My opinion bolt together tanks won't survive an earthquake even if they were built on bedrock. Nobody even uses bolt together industrial shelving to store 1 ton skids never mind hundreds of tons of nuclear waste. They will fall like a house of cards in an earthquake.


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  • Wooster

    More information from Japan about the ice wall to be built around the plant.

    The ice wall will be 1.4 kilometers around and about 30 meters deep.

    Off the top of my head 1.4 kilometers around doesn't sound remotely large enough to encompass all the reactors, water tanks etc?

    But of more concern to me is that 30 metres it is almost certainly NOT DEEP ENOUGH.

    You might imagine that at 30 meters you would reach bedrock under a reactor, but not at Fukushima Daiichi which sits on an old river bed.

    If you look at this report on the geology of the Fukushima site, you can see that even at **700mtrs** (2300ft) under the site the soil is still of poor quality and probably quite porous:

    http://fukushima.over-blog.fr/article-the-geology-of-fukushima-88575278.html

    0-50 mtrs: muddy and sandy rock
    50-150 mtrs: sandstone with some inclusion of tuff (volcanic ash)
    150-200 mtrs: sandstone with heavy inclusion of tuff
    200-300 mtrs: clayey sandstone
    300-700 mtrs : alternating muddy and sandy rocks
    700mtrs: hard sandstone and muddy rocks

    Digging an ice wall to just 30 mtrs is going to leave it suspended on muddy and sandy rock and is very unlikely to achieve anything as far as groundwater contamination goes.

    NHK report on the ice wall:

    http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130917_24.html


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  • HoTaters

    Graphic illustation of soil liquefaction:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3hJK1BoRak

    You can watch soil and water jetting up out of the ground in these videos. The first link is to a video in English. Video done during Tohoku-Oki earthquake in central Japan.

    The second video really gets the point across:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0sLyJpfTE8

    The third one is just enough to give you the heebie-jeebies:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_BD3NnR07c

    Imagine sitting on top of those large blocks of earth moving around.

    This one is pretty graphic:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlhIHhadTqc


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  • jec jec

    Think of Fukushima as a plate, a flat dish type plate to represent the bedrock much deeper than 30 meters. Now picture the Fukushima Facility with the four reactor buildings, common fuel pools, water storage tank mess and add Reactors 5 and 6. An ice wall is to contain the area of 1.4 KM by 30 meters of depth. Think of that same facility as a large glob of ice cream sitting on the dish plate example. NOW..tilt the plate a little..the glob slides off. Kids can demonsrate this in a kitchen! Simple model TEPCO should have in their minds when thinking of a ice wall..without enough depth (the 30 meters) and with liquification/mud base for the under area. You have the ground of Fukushima Nuclear Plant as a big glob of land..and an ice wall to kind of make it contained..and a LOT of water and water pressure from up hill and underground rivers/water. Can you say water slide?

    Edgar Cayce did say Japan would slide into the ocean..could it be Fukushima he saw? And while I take all such visions with a realistic view, its what it could look like. Just Saying…


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  • Liquefaction animation
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=536xSZ_XkSs

    Liquefaction model demonstration
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwvvYxSZ7PI

    Captured video of actual liquefaction
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0sLyJpfTE8

    Lecture on liquefaction analyzing Christ Church quakes and liquefaction. The analysis discusses underground rivers, silt deposits, landfills, sloping land between mountains and sea, etc. It's interesting throughout. You'll be able to relate the lecture material to Fukushima over and over throughout the lecture. Grab some popcorn.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8aO-vRBKECo


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  • truthseek truthseek

    Pretty haunting commentary from Arnie, of course we know and have conisidered this scenario many times here at ENEnews. I am on the west coast for business this week, I am very uncomfortable, feeling more vulnerable than being home in the Midwest.

    This is a trip… This life playing out before us.


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  • Wooster

    Tepco have recently issued a handout which describes the ice wall and other countermeasures they are planning to take.

    It is titled "Efforts for Decommissioning of Unit 1 to 4 Reactors in
    TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station" It is well worth a read!

    http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2013/images/handouts_130913_01-e.pdf

    On page 24, you can see the ice wall outlined in blue. The ice wall only surrounds reactors 1 – 4 (and pertty tightly too).

    It does NOT cover the area of the storage tanks, nor reactors 5 and 6.

    The last diagram of the document is very revealing as it give Tepco's interpretation of the geology beneath the reactors.

    Tepco have given 4 different stratifications:

    1) The UPPER PERMEABLE layer
    2) The LOW-PERMEABLE layer
    3) The LOWER PERMEABLE layer
    4) The LOW PERMEABLE layer.

    The words they use are VERY IMPORTANT. Translation:

    1) The UPPER PERMEABLE LAYER = The highest layer which is PERMEABLE
    2) The LOW PERMEABLE LAYER = A layer which is simply LESS PERMEABLE than the upper permeable layer above
    3) The LOWER PERMEABLE LAYER. A lower layer which is PERMEABLE.
    4) The LOW PERMEABLE LAYER – same as 2 – A layer which is LESS PERMEABLE than the upper permeable layer above.

    So, according to Tepco, all four laters beneath the plant are PERMEABLE to some degree.

    Notice that at NO POINT do they use the word IMPERMEABLE.

    PERMEABLE: That can be permeated or penetrated, especially by liquids or…


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  • unincredulous unincredulous

    Well, I have an idea. If the spent fuel pools collapse, they obviously will be sitting on ground level. Japan should build a wall around the NPP designed to hold water, so it can be flooded to keep them from contacting air. It might buy us enough time so that I can at least watch the "Continuum" series debut in 2014. I know, that doesn't seem like a lot to want to live for. Maybe the 1% with all that money piled up might want to go snowboarding or something. Maybe they could build the wall.


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