Reuters: Can’t stop groundwater from flowing into Fukushima reactors — 4 years to fix?

Published: March 17th, 2013 at 5:16 pm ET


Title: Flooding complicates clean-up at Japanese nuclear plant
Source: Reuters
By: James Topham and Mari Saito (Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Robert Birsel)
Date: March 8, 2013
h/t Fukushima Diary

Tokyo Electric Power Co is struggling to stop groundwater flooding into damaged reactors at its wrecked Fukushima plant and it may take four years to fix the problem, possibly delaying the removal of melted uranium fuel.

Shunichi Suzuki, Tepco’s general manager for research and development of Fukushima Daiichi decommissioning, said on Friday stopping the groundwater was crucial. […]

Removing the ground water may take two to four more years, Suzuki said, adding that it wasn’t possible to give a firm schedule. […]

See also: [intlink id=”tepco-many-holes-fukushima-reactors-fill-suppression-chambers-cement” type=”post”]{{empty}}[/intlink]

Published: March 17th, 2013 at 5:16 pm ET


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22 comments to Reuters: Can’t stop groundwater from flowing into Fukushima reactors — 4 years to fix?

  • PavewayIII PavewayIII

    Damn… we're going to run out of sea lions by then.

  • moonshellblue moonshellblue

    Gee can't they get their troops like Russia to handle some of this work constructing a barrier to prevent the groundwater from entering the reactor buildings or zeolite lining where the main leaks are located. Although after two years and the major release, the groundwater is already contaminated thus their time would be better spent researching technology suited to extracting the radionuclides from water mainly drinking water, or rather blue gold. Unreal this is so depressing but not unexpected and it seems we need to focus on how to adapt vs clean-up, simply stated.

  • We Not They Finally

    A), if groundwater is flooding INTO the reactors, how can they even measure what is CONTAMINATING that groundwater and then flowing OUT? "Flooding," by definition, doesn't just nicely neatly flow in a certain path. B), what does that have to do with the "melted uranium fuel"? Does it flow through it, above it, around it? And C), how can "melted fuel" be REMOVED? They cannot even move whatever intact fuel RODS. How does anyone, even electrical equipment (if not people), get close enough to melted fuel, to corium, to do ANYTHING with it? Oh, and D), IF the groundwater problem is solvable in four years, who is still around by then, not dosed out, and still willing to work for TEPCO?
    Just asking here. Maybe someone with more sophisticated scientific background can address this.

  • "…for research and development … decommissioning,"

    These spin delay tactics amaze me.

    IMO – Having to do research and development for decommissioning really means they really don't have a clue about what to do and they will get back to us in 2 to 4 years or longer with a possible plan.

    I guess the Nuclear Industry figures that if they can keep people 'in the dark' and oblivious about this catastrophic fallout, then spinning it for another 2 years should be easy.

    "The utility is considering several measures to dispose of the water, including treating and releasing it into the sea." – from article

    🙁 It's already leaking. (probably gushing)

  • Does this not indicate that contaminated water is actually MIXING with ground water?

    I thought the main problem was to stop contaminated water from mixing with ground water?

    We know contaminated water is flowing OUT from the reactors. Therefore contaminated water is now flowing IN and OUT from groundwater. Tap water comes from ground water.

    "Depending on where you live in Canada, your tap water comes from either groundwater or surface water supplies. Groundwater is water that is found in soil or in cracks in underground
    rock. It is called groundwater because this water is in the ground, below the surface of the Earth. Surface water is water that is at the surface of the Earth. Surface water includes lakes, streams,
    rivers, ponds and dugouts."

    [below: Chernobyl]
    "Deputy head of the Construction Directorate, Comrade V.T. Gora, gave instructions for backfilling the foundation in many places where vertical waterproofing was damaged. Similar violations were permitted in other sections with the knowledge of Comrade V.T. Gora and the head of the construction group, Comrade IU. L. Matveev. Damage to the waterproofing can lead to ground water seepage into the station and radioactive contamination of the environment. (USSR Committee for State Security [KGB] 1979)"

    • PavewayIII PavewayIII

      "…Does this not indicate that contaminated water is actually MIXING with ground water?…"

      It became pretty obvious that that's exactly what was happening last year when they found they couldn't pump out the turbine buildings. They noticed water kept spilling in from the reactor buildings and figured they would have to fix the plumbing in them first.

      Turns out that water was infiltrating into the reactor buildings from earthquake-produced cracks all over the basement floor and walls. Even the little auxiliary vaults for tanks and such that connect to the reactor buildings were found to be filling with water and spilling into the reactor buildings.

      The water table had shifted up several feet from the earthquake. Buildings in the plant are just big, leaky wells sitting in the middle of an artesian aquifer that flows into the sea. People are skeptical about how much effect trenching would have. The buildings basements are now below the foothill-fed water table. You would have to make a 'trench' so large that the entire plant would become an island.

      Easier for TEPCO to play dumb and blind. The more radionuclides that spill into the ocean, the less they have to deal with.

      TEPCO isn't a person – it has no rights. The cowardly Japanese government never 'took them over'. It only propped up their stock and continues to protect TEPCO directors from prosecution. The radiation can't be helped.

  • This article on Yahoo is over a week old.

    Almost no comments. (22)
    They must buried this one somehow. (?)–sector.html

  • TheBowRiver TheBowRiver

    Hi everyone, I hope it is ok to post this on several reports. I am doing this because I believe the NRC types will try and cover up as usual.

    I asked the question in a previous blog post and I hope all of you caught the significance.

    Does anyone know for certain if Iodine 131 (I-131) is being monitored and/or measured?

    This synthetic element along with Cesium 137 and Strontium 90 are not found in nature.

    They are fission fragments from Uranium 235 and or Plutonium 239. They are not part of any decay chain but are part of the huge energy release from the nucleus of U 235 or Pu 239.

    Iodine 131, which has an 8 day half life, is the clearest indicator of fission still taking place.

    I have been looking and found 1 item where the Chinese detected it in several areas on the windward side facing Japan February 24, 2013.

    Why is this important? Well maybe Dr Chris Busby, Dr Helen Caldicott, Gordon Edwards, Arnie Gundersen and others could explain fully and better than me.

    That being said, the presence of I-131 means the 2000 plus degree C furnace is still cooking and spewing lethal amounts of fission fragments like mentioned above.

    Please note that these are not decay chain radionuclides which are terrible enough.

    • PavewayIII PavewayIII

      Sure they are, TBR. Whose lies would you like: TEPCO, MEXT or RadNet? No, there is no *credible* government organization with proper equipment that is measuring these particular radionuclides and publishing the data. The entire world pretty much depends on TEPCO's desire to report bad news. They haven't had much desire since 3/11.

      I would take the Chinese report with a grain of salt, though. China has pretty massive nuclear weapons manufacturing operations and a dismal record of environmental protection. The Chinese don't trust anything they see on state-controlled TV, why should you? That's not to say Daiichi is not spewing stuff. Chinese dislike the Japanese intensely and would be screaming bloody murder if that was happening in any serious way.

      The fission fragments are properly called fission products. They may be produced by the relatively infrequent spontaneous fission of nuclides in the corium, but not anywhere near that produced when the core was intact and critical.

      Criticality occurs when the fuel rods are bathed in slow-moving, thermal neutrons. The fast neutrons they produce don't work – they fly out of the core without hitting another nuclei. The water normally between the rods slows down (moderates) the neutrons so they are more likely to hit another fissile atom. A melted blob of core is hot, but probably not critical and not producing tons of new fission products.

      • TheBowRiver TheBowRiver

        Thanks Pavewaylll, Pu239, and all for the feedback. I don't reply as timely as I would like. I have several comments.

        Fission products is the correct term. As all of us here on ENENews are aware, we are drowning in a cesspool of propaganda, disinformation which is choking clarity and truth.

        Fission Products (fragments) vs Decay chain products.

        The distinction between these 2 is of dire importance.

        We have 3, possibly 4 reactors with super-critical masses of U-235, and one of these if I understand correctly is mixed oxide with U-235 and PU-239. All 4 have some level of debris fused inside their mass.

        You are correct Pavewaylll that in a functioning reactor pile, the loaded zirconium rods need the heavy water or moderator to slow down the neutrons in order for fission to take place.

        Once critical mass is achieved, however, fission will occur.

        The amount of U-235 to achieve critical mass in a spherical form is is 52 kilograms with a diameter of 17 centimeters.

  • timemachine2020 timemachine2020

    Sick and tired of the TEPCO lies and stupid dog and pony show. They will never be able to recover the coriums and the damaged spent fuel rods safely with out causing much more radiation releases. Nobody knows how. I say NUKE the place with a hydrogen bomb and be done with it. Its the only option and they know it. I suppose they will wait until the unit 4 spent fuel pool collapses and destroys the northern hemisphere first. It seems like an ugly groundhog day movie. Same death spewing from fukushima day after day we wake to find out more cesium and everything else that death factory sends us via the jetstream. Obama sucks for not doing anything or warning the american people to take precautions. Rat bastard is just as guilty as Tepco as far as I'm concerned.

  • Johnny Blade Johnny Blade

    I have to call bullshit on this one yet again! Those familiar with the intimate details of the TEPCO policies & doctrines and who had some part in Fukushima's siting,design,engineering/construction, "corners-cut" aka "cost-saving measures" or falsified documents & inspection records & findings of critical faults/weak-points that allowed the proposed Mother of ALL"Doomsday Dirty Bomb" MEGA-"FAIL" @ Fukushima via bribery,extortion,fraud, and even MURDER for their efforts at operating a precariously unsafe NPP facility, the world's 2nd largest of its kind! They ALWAYS intended for the coriums, high-level radioactive debris, and any accumulating contaminated cooling water to "leak" into the ocean and I'd bet those convenient "trenches" & damaged water intakes/discharge structures & apparatus are functioning as "intended" all along as designed for such an event?!! The announcement of an "expected delay" in decommissioning work "to let radiation levels decline to that which can allow work to continue again" is MORE than a "hint" towards the conclusion I'd so long ago arrived at regarding their "REAL" "plan" of what they intended to do with the excessive on-site contaminated water,etc. and I know I wasn't alone while watching the low-tide expose the tops of underwater fuel-rack assemblies in the lagoon always followed-up by official announcements, uncharacteristically making small apologies for "hoses being run over springing leaks or uncoupled to…

  • Check out the Nuke Pro, which is not Pro Nuke

    Why we should shut them all down

  • Record high cesium fish — stop by and drop a comment.

    Pro nuke trolls are even fighting this one

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    Ground water full of radiation permeating Japan, thanks to nuclear.

  • We Not They Finally

    AS IF IT WERE NOT ENOUGH… Now Japan plans to drill right into the seabed for methane hydrate crystals for a new energy source. (Fukushima Rad News has been covering this.) Like they don't CARE what kind of deadly new explosions they create? That is part of the still-dangerous scenario in the Gulf — drilling too deep, not even knowing what underground methane volcanoes are down there ready to explode. You know what? Make the Japanese rub together two sticks to make a fire and get energy THAT way. Meanwhile draq the people trying to do THIS now away in chains. Jail them forever. Haven't they done enough murderous harm? Japan has turned itself into an outlaw nation. Just JAIL the people now trying to do this. Jail them and throw away the key. Oh, by the way, the indifference of the world is deafening, isn't it? Not that we should NOT care — we SHOULD. I really don't want others committing suicide on our behalf — they have no right.

  • We Not They Finally

    Also not to exempt the Americans pushing such reckless methods, nor the Brits. They OF COURSE knew they were drilling too deep into the Gulf. Now there is literally a hole in the bottom of the sea and endlessly gushing oil.

  • razzz razzz

    Nuking the place is out of the question. I thought of that early on but was corrected by this reasoning: If just Unit 4's pool contains the same amount of cesium ever released during all of the above ground testing ever done then dropping a nuke bomb on Units 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 cores and pools and the common fuel pool plus any dry cask storage areas would release enough nuclear fallout to wipe out the northern hemisphere.

    I thought the idea was like above ground testing where you pick a calm weather day and the fallout travels high into the atmosphere only to take centuries to washout and rain back down to earth in a semi-controlled fashion. Besides all the other nuclear poisons much or less worse than cesiums. There is just to much of it to deal with all at once.

    Better off pushing it all into the ocean and that looks like what is happening anyway.

    I am beginning to think freezing the ground might be a way to prevent groundwater from mixing with contaminated core cooling water, at least slow the mixing down. TEPCO is working on dewatering wells at the moment to catch the groundwater early and send it to the sea thus bypassing the Units. What could possibly go wrong with that idea?

    They will have to dump the stored contaminated water into the ocean soon. They have to or the entire site will become a low level storage site with continuing higher levels of radiation as time goes on if they don't dump it. A big quake could destroy those tanks.

  • razzz razzz

    Further, the melted cores afford no protection to any remaining fuels…no boron to protect uranium and plutonium moderated by water from bombarding each other with neutrons.

    TEPCO monitors the radionuclides in the harbor and not only are they not returning to pre-3/11 levels but readings continue at high levels with spikes in the readings. Spikes can only come from fresh reactions (fizzling?). Just random chain reactions that begin new decay chains that show up in the harbor monitoring.

    No one talks about it much, because there is nothing they can do about it.

    Sensors detect temperature spikes in Unit 2 and TEPCO discounts them as being broken. They also say the cores are in cold shutdown but with no containment, makes no sense when they have to continue nitrogen injections to displace any built up hydrogen. There is still enough radiation present to split water atoms into oxygen and hydrogen.

  • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

    There have been a bunch of papers published recently with computer models of Fukushima corium, 'proving' that the corium is still inside reactor buildings. Example:
    I don't beleve that these papers, taken together, are much more then propaganda pieces. The corium is in the Earth.

    Water is the real story of Fukushima.
    Ground water is the real story.
    Not the ground water that is in the reactor building basements.
    But the ground water that is in the ground.
    Heavily contaminated ground water flows continuously into the Pacific Ocean.
    The Pacific Sefood Industry is already depressed.
    Japan is in another economic leg down in their two decade long depression.
    And we ain't seen nothin' yet.