Trouble injecting water into Fukushima Reactors 1-3 — Flow falls despite increasing coolant level — Tepco unable to identify cause, thinks pipes are clogged

Published: August 31st, 2012 at 9:56 am ET


Follow-up to: [intlink id=”kyodo-sharp-drop-in-water-at-fukushima-reactors-no-1-3-below-level-regarded-as-necessary-to-keep-fuel-inside-cool” type=”post”]{{empty}}[/intlink]

(Subscription Only) Title: TEPCO facing difficulties in water injection at Daiichi plant
Source: Kyodo
Date: 8:42a ET, August 31, 2012

The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Friday continued to face difficulties in controlling the amount of water being injected into the three crippled reactors at the plant, which is critical to keeping the melted fuel inside cool.

The amount of water injected into the reactors dropped below the minimum required level twice on the previous day. Workers have operated valves to increase the coolant, but the water flow is falling from time to time compared with the initially set level.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has yet to nail down the cause, but it suspects something may be stuck inside the pipes, hampering the flow of water.


Published: August 31st, 2012 at 9:56 am ET


Related Posts

  1. Tepco: “Unknown whether the flow will recover” — No conclusive evidence of why reactors had sudden drop in water injections August 31, 2012
  2. Kyodo: Sharp drop in water at Fukushima Reactors No. 1-3 — “Below level regarded as necessary to keep fuel inside cool” August 30, 2012
  3. Water flow to Fukushima reactors dropped again — “Cause of decrease will continue to be investigated” — Tepco says it’s actions appear to be showing ‘a certain effect’ September 3, 2012
  4. TEPCO: Water level data from Reactors No. 2 and 3 “may not be credible” after what happened at No. 1 May 12, 2011
  5. Tepco workers “unable to find water level” in Reactor No. 1 containment vessel — “Some damage was found” (PHOTO) October 9, 2012

33 comments to Trouble injecting water into Fukushima Reactors 1-3 — Flow falls despite increasing coolant level — Tepco unable to identify cause, thinks pipes are clogged

  • jahdesm jahdesm

    what a f.. are they cooling the melted core is already left the building

  • chrisk9

    This was bound to happen considering the measures they have taken. In a normal nuclear plant the water quality is incredibly controlled to insure there are no solids or corrosives. I doubt the resin banks and filters have been operational from last March. Add to that the injected seawater and you have a perfect situation for corrosion everywhere the water travels in the systems.
    As soon as they announced the seawater injection it was obvious the plant was toast. Add to that the hydrogen explosions and melting fuel and you have a closed water system with and incredible amount of solids that should not be there. This situation will only get worse as more corrosion and blockage occurs.

    • BreadAndButter BreadAndButter

      I remember seeing pictures they took in the RPV with lots of flaky stuff floating around, which were described as rust, I think.
      Gosh, they give me the creeps.

      • patb2009

        Lots of strange stuf growing in the SFP's too. Mold, kelp, etc. Plus Rust on all the exposed steels.

        Add in mud, debris, dust, sucked into the pipes, and it's bound to clog up.

    • "This situation will only get worse…" – chrisk9

      Seawater, salt corrodes. Not to mention high radiation levels add fatigue to materials and electronics.

      They knew/know that once these things began failing there was no way to get in an even make an assessment much less any kind of repair beyond a stop gap band-aid.

      Maybe, the seawater bought us some time?
      We will never really know.

    • Johnny Blade Johnny Blade

      Hello chrisk9 & the ENE group, I had trouble before finally viewing the TEPCO cam the day before last,but when I did manage to I saw workers scrambling around while the place became engulfed in white steam/smoke except for the top half of the screen which allowed me to see that the cranes were still operating & the workers were still there throughout the serious-looking (release?)event?!! Before my wife was diagnosed with advanced cancer this past February I had spent a LOT of time watching the available live camera feeds and learned not to panic every time various scary-looking events occurred but I hadn't seen the workers remain on site during those instances either(?)!~until this last instance following the latest EQ's and prior to this (rare)statement by TEPCO describing "problems" that posed a serious threat or setback?!! I'm wondering if they can somehow "bypass" the clogged piping and use remote-controlled cranes or hoists,etc. to drop an eductor-type pump and/or some form of replacement hoses and pipes for the intakes & discharge systems of the SFP or pools in question? Even if as a "temporary" solution until proper,long-term remedies can be implemented? I get nervous every time I "see" anomalies visible and followed up with a press release describing anything less than complete control of their mess…chris and everyone~Have a GREAT weekend & Holiday!!!~ 🙂

  • VyseLegendaire VyseLegendaire

    Minerals and corrosives. Any volunteers to go in and clean it up?

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    Maybe recent quakes opened cracks, and water is flowing away from the melted blobs. Or maybe something far worse, who knows.

    • many moons

      Is there a way to unclog the pipes????

      • chrisk9

        Under normal conditions there are a number of systems that could clean up the water, and unclog the pipes. But even if some of these systems are still operational there is so much "stuff" in the water those systems could not handle the load. I am sure that all the filters in the system are so hot from fuel fragments that humans will never be able to change out these filters because the dose rates are astronomically high.

        • Andres Arce Andres Arce

          It's frightening that the Japaneses haven't even planned to dispatch an army of their men, to bravely face the conditions (even dying) and fix the things, which otherwise will destroy their country (literally speaking) while affecting the whole Planet Earth itself.
          This is consequence of the farces, where nobody durst telling the truth from the start, and so the common Japanese people are totally unbeknownst about such nefarious events for themselves.
          It's cowardliness and stupidity all together, just copying the worst vices of Occident when their local politicians must decide by themselves, instead of thinking on robotic dogs and sex robots.

      • Fury Fury

        reverse the water flow.

  • PhilipUpNorth philipupnorth

    Cooling difficulties at "three crippled reactors at the plant". I find it alarming that these cooling problems apparently hit all three melt-through reactors at the same time. What is causing all three to have similar problems at one time?

    It is time to consider the worst case scenario. The plumbing in Buildings1,2,&3 have been damaged by sea water, grit, and rust. Temporary pipes burst in winter, and leak continuously. Pumps and electrical systems will fail one day soon. Can plumbing, pumps, and electrical systems be repaired as they fail over the years? TEPCO has said repeatedly that most of Buildings 1,2,&3 remain too hot to send workers into. So when a critical component inevitably breaks down, it may not be able to be replaced. We can expect TEPCO to lose control of each of the 3 melt-through reactors and spent fuel pools, one after another, in the coming years. Radiation emissions from the Fuku nukes will rise dramatically as a result. All workers will eventually be driven away from the plants. SFP4 pumps and pipes will break, and the pool drained of water. Fires will commence once again. The common SFP, along with SFP5&6, will go last. ELE for sure!

    • Fury Fury

      Those critical components are not inside with the high radiation or they would not have been able to start them up to begin with. Yes they can ghange them out. just takes time and caution. As for the spent fuel pools a simple garden hose would provide enough water for cooling as they are exposed and open for a reason.

  • Cataclysmic Cataclysmic

    Probably much like the fracking has done to drinking wells..

    Collapsed them in on themselves so they no longer produce water..

    Big earthquake in the region has most likely shifted the earth above, below and around our new glowing suns of death, that wish to shine brighter yet… the earth shifted, the water can no longer get to the coriums, the temp goes up.. not rocket science.. geology maybe..

    All they have most likely been measuring, for some time, is the temperature of the steam and residual heat anyway.. …really, how do you measure corium in the ground.. except with "broken" Tepco thermometers?

    All models showed that the corium had to have left the building a long time ago.

  • PhilipUpNorth philipupnorth

    Oh where, oh where have the coriums gone?
    Where oh where can they be?
    With our lives cut short and their half-life so long.
    Oh where, oh where can they be?

  • Sickputer

    This is like a heart patient who is no longer a candidate for stints or bypasses. Just congested blood flow. The water system at Daiichi is the same circulatory lifeline. Gum it up and it becomes a descent into the death of the complex.

    Not good news. But it's just the beginning of such reports.

  • 3C

    Wita, Wait, I'm confused. When TEPCO says that the injected water
    flow has fallen below the minimum required level; is this water circulating, being boiled off or draining somewhere(like the ocean or water table. If Quakes are opening fissures and the water intended to cover the corium is running off it probably won't be long before hot springs will be sprouting all over the place, a real tourist attraction in the making. someone should invite the TEPCO officials back for tea and relaxing bath.

    • Fury Fury

      there could be several reasons why the water flow isn't right to match the calculations of what should be required. One, if there is less heat being generated inside the reactor vessel, it could fill up and have no place to go. I believe what they are saying is not enough water is coming out. IE water exhaust pipes are being clogged, inlet pipes wouldnt become clogged. they are just not getting the flow out that they are putting in. If all exhaust pipes cracks etc. become clogged then you can't get water in because it isn't running out, in a closed system it would build up pressure to a certain amount and then the pumps could not push any more water in, whatever pressure the pump is designed to put out and thats it.

  • Radio VicFromOregon

    Calling all experts. I'm confused! My first inclination is to agree with the water-leaking-out-a-hole group on this one. Perhaps a new fracture or a patch come loose from an older crack. While i bet the pipes are in terrible condition, if water is still being pumped in and not flowing out on the ground somewhere which would indicate a leaking pipe, then it has to be a leaking reactor or containment. If it were due to corroded, blocked pipes, wouldn't the water simply back up and become obvious? Or, is there that much extra room in the cooling system for tons of water to just accumulate behind the blockage and not be noticed while the reactors heat up and boil off the water that remained on the reactor side of the blockage? And, to the question of this happening at all three reactors at once – i, then side wit the corroded pipe group because there could be a block in the feed pipe to all three reactors, or all three reactors are all piped together, which is a scary thought, and the water is leaking due to pressure from a clog unseen between the reactors, which would be very hard to witness and remain living. This is an alarming development. Will they be back to dropping boron from helicopters?

    • Atomfritz Atomfritz

      Don't worry, a flow rate of five cubic meters/h keeps the pipe clean.

      And if the cooling stops, there is nothing to worry about a nuclear criticality, which can happen only with water moderation.

      Without water there is no need for boron.

      • Time Is Short Time Is Short

        Months ago it was acknowledged that they were pumping hundreds of tons of water per hour. Now they only need 5 meters/cubed an hour?


      • Sickputer

        AF typed these pixels of light: "And if the cooling stops, there is nothing to worry about a nuclear criticality, which can happen only with water moderation."

        SP: According to latest Tepco data the current water injections are about 19 tons of water per hour (7 tons each to Units 2 and 3 and 4.9 tons for Unit 1. Converted to a liquid measurement my head can handle… slightly over 100,000 gallons of coolant per day. 3 million gallons per month.

        You think they can stop the water cooling and the coriums will behave?

        Yes, there would be no moderator. But tremendous outgassing will still occur from the fuel making the entire island deadly for humans.

        They have to fight nuclear fires the same way they have fought them for the past 70 years…with buckets of water. In this case…many buckets. And they may have to do this for centuries unless they can invent better suppression techniques.

        I did see a report that Tepco installed a refrigeration system 30 days ago to lessen the water feed. If that is true…it didn't work.

        • Atomfritz Atomfritz

          Don't worry, SP.
          It's less dangerous than one might think.
          At Chernobyl the cooling was stopped when sun rose, and it became finally obvious that the reactor was gone.

          The petrified corium flows still are in the buildings, it's a robot- and fungi-only zone, but otherwise quite harmless.
          No water mess like at Fuku.

          • Sickputer

            ..I think I'll have to respectfully disagree with your assessment. Things are not under control at Fukushima and Chernobyl is outgassing so badly it needs a need $1 billion dome cover.

            They are actually building one at Chernobyl. The situation is much worse in Japan and massive cooling will continue for years. When they stop I'll reconsider my opinion.

    • Fury Fury

      if the water were leaking out they would be able to get the water flow in to stay at required levels, so no water leaks, meaning the leaks are being plugged. so water levels may be rising inside the reactor vessels, but may not be cooling because not enough circulation. a solution may be to reverse the flow, pumping clean fresh water in through the outlet pipes and letting it return through the inlet side, while adding some type of solvent to clean the blockages. or run a rotorooter through them.

      • Sickputer

        Arnie told Helen the electrical conduits between buildings were transporting radioactive water from one unit to another. That's why the turbine buildings at 1-3 are very radioactive, not as bas the main buildings, but highly toxic.

        Also remember the Great Eastern Earthquake shifted the ground 8 feet horizontally. Any of the wall or floor foundations below ground level mau be severely cracked. They won't be able to repair the damages at Units 1-3 for many decades… The radiation will quickly kill workers. It's a bad situation.. nobody is going to stop the radioactive water leaks to the ocean easily. It looks pretty hopeless for containment of deadly water leaks coursing to the ocean.

  • Sickputer

    VFO sez…"This is an alarming development. Will they be back to dropping boron from helicopters?"

    SP: If they evacuate the complex, helicopters won't be enough. They will need an armada of forest fire planes. Hope somebody is building a few hundred. Just makes you wonder what kind of different plans they are discussing in case of full megaplex blowout.

    Blow the island into the ocean is a last ditch strategy… Might have worked better 17 months ago. At this crisis there are options that sound insane until you consider the alternatives.

    • Time Is Short Time Is Short

      They're getting ready for abandonment. They'll just walk away and let nature take its' course. We know how it will play out. Wait until the rest of humanity catches up.

      Every alternative is bad.

  • in Nuke even water would not normally sail …
    Maybe so they saw learn science about antigravity ?

  • Linduh Linduh

    Correct me if I'm wrong here, but this issue with the water level occured the next day or sometime after the most recent 5.5 earthquake on Aug 29. Seems like a coorelation here.