Japan Official: Fukushima reactor buildings could “topple” — Tepco’s work to change flow of groundwater can form pools below surface that soften the earth

Published: August 6th, 2013 at 4:45 pm ET
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Title: Japan Nuclear Plant’s Battle to Contain Radioactive Water
Source: Wall St Journal
Authors: MARI IWATA and PHRED DVORAK
Date: August 6, 2013

[...] as [Tepco] prepares this week to start work on a new set of measures that would ring off and cap the area where the most highly contaminated water has been found, some experts and regulators are saying that the battle to completely contain radioactivity to the site of one of the world’s worst nuclear accidents may be a losing one. [...]

It’s preparing to extend the underground hardened-earth barrier in a ring around the most heavily contaminated section of coastline, in hopes of heading groundwater off before it can flood in. Tepco is also proposing to cap that ringed section with gravel and asphalt, so nothing gets out. The operator is hoping to get an initial ring of hardened ground done by October. [...]

But there’s a risk to changing the flow of groundwater in the ways that Tepco is considering, said Tatsuya Shinkawa, nuclear accident response director of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, at a news conference last month. The water could pool dangerously underground, softening the earth and potentially toppling the reactor buildings, he said. [...]

See also: BBC: Fukushima plant sits smack in the middle of an underground aquifer — It is rapidly being overwhelmed deep beneath ground (VIDEO)

Published: August 6th, 2013 at 4:45 pm ET
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66 comments

Related Posts

  1. 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) September 18, 2013
  2. Underground water just 4 inches from surface by Fukushima reactor — AP: Groundwater closer to surface than Tepco told officials investigating tank leak August 28, 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 Times: Extreme contamination in Fukushima reactor buildings ‘most likely’ mixing into aquifer, reveals Tepco — Bloomberg: Could this flow downstream to Tokyo and present a big risk? (VIDEO) August 26, 2013
  5. Top Nuclear Official: “Ground sinking” beneath Fukushima reactor buildings a concern — Gov’t experts looking closely at risks from changes to flow of underground water April 21, 2014

66 comments to Japan Official: Fukushima reactor buildings could “topple” — Tepco’s work to change flow of groundwater can form pools below surface that soften the earth

  • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

    Oh boy…looks like someone is planning a Radiation Contamination party.


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  • tooktheredpill tooktheredpill

    I have a question…..

    If the groundwater reaches the surface and starts flowing overland into the bay….

    Has anyone discussed the consequences of how that affects Tepco's movement on the ground…What I mean is if it's only 1 metre below the surface and about to flow over and the water is highly radioactive after passing over corium….then surely this would mean that ALL the ground downhill of the site would become almost inaccessible to any human or at least dramatically affect how any more repair work could be done in and around the bay?

    Could somebody explain how radioactive this water is (in terms of lethality for a worker walking through it if it were a stream over land??) and even if you later can stem the flow….surely the ground itself that it flowed over would still remain as radioactive.


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  • CodeShutdown CodeShutdown

    but does a toppled spent fuel building increase risk of tainting the water in the bay?


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    • CodeShutdown CodeShutdown

      (joke…not funny but joke nonetheless)


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      • jump-ball

        redpill: Without following the 'containment/cooling' details, my intuition is screaming that the increasing, untended, water rad levels around the reactors will soon or eventually make water-cooling maintenance, and any proposed dry-casking removal efforts, impossible, turning Nukushima into the world's worst ELE extinction-level-event nightmare coming true.

        Were it possible, and in lieu of an effective Chernobyl-like Novarka Arch containment and reprocessing plan, any country negligent enough to allow its coastal or other NPPs to malfunction and threaten international ocean and atmospheric-wide contamination, should be 'quarantined': to wit, in this case, Japanese fishing should be limited to within their 10 mile territorial limit, import bans should be imposed on all foods and manufactures, exports banned completely, and the innocent, endangered civilians allowed to expatriate to the safety of foreign shores, leaving their corrupt, negligent, radiologically doomed fascist regime leaders to fend for themselves.


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    • Teddi Teddi

      Where is the eco left ?

      Where is the UN ?

      Where is the IAEA ?

      Where is the EPA ?

      Where is "eco friendly" Obama ?

      Where are all the leftist eco organizations that have taken hundreds of millions in contributions to "save the planet" [mainly from a bogus AGW] now ????

      Where are these entities when we have a real disaster ??


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      • Discordian

        Probably out spending the money they were bought off with. (Pardon my grammar.)


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      • The ones you mentioned are not eco, and not very green. There is a lot of greenwashing going on; even MonSa))(( claims to be 'green' and 'sustainable'.

        Lots of talking and little action when it comes to preventing the extinction of the human race.

        But then again, where is the Conservative Right, which claims to be for family and moral values? No one in sight there either…

        The only ones saying nuclear should be shut down is the Green Party, which is TRULY ECO…

        Vote Green Party if you are TRULY concerned about ECO, and not just trying to score partisan points?


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        • mairs mairs

          I hope that this isn't entirely based on ideology. For instance a Kansas town was almost entirely destroyed by a tornado several years ago, named Greensburg. I drove through it soon afterwards. The most prominent features were the stumps of mangled trees. They rebuilt as a sustainable city and are very proud of what they have accomplished and have yet to do. Now if that can be done in a conservative town in rural Kansas, it can chip away at the polarization of political "isms" and bring people together for the future of this planet. I'm pessimistic about turning things around. It seems like we passed the point of no return, but I find examples like this so encouraging.


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        • Teddi Teddi

          Pure BS ! Hundreds of billions have been funneled to the eco-left to "save the planet" and while they clamor about their AGW scam, they are nowhere to been seen on a truly global eco disaster….

          "green" = scam


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  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    Earth is forever changed by this one plant. And Chernobyl. Total waste, nuclear is. Criminal.


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  • weeman

    68years ago today the atomic bombing of Nagasaki occurred, not a very good news day to commemorate, will we ever learn.


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  • davidh7426 davidh7426

    Is there anything that HASN'T gone wrong yet ??

    I've been trying to think of something, and the ONLY ones that I came up with are…

    1 :: At least the buildings haven't fallen over.
    2 :: At least the whole area hasn't sunk into the sea.

    Now that the first is a possibility, it makes me wonder just what the chances are of the second.


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  • lickerface lickerface

    By definition, are these buildings still considered reactor buildings? Are those things still reactors? By looking at images, it seems many functions of the "nuclear power plant" are inoperable. Therefore, the place is better described as a radiological disaster site.


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  • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

    tooktheredpill,

    You are correct and this is how they have handled such Radiation Contamination events in the past…
    http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2011/03/radioactive-ocean

    I am sure we are all in good very competent hands and soon we may have to cover the entire world in asphalt.

    At least this common practice will keep the weeds down. I hate weeding..don't you?


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    • tooktheredpill tooktheredpill

      I loathe weeding. But at least I know I can kneel down and take that weed out without having to count the seconds before the very weed itself has managed to give me a lethal dose.

      I still think if the water table breaches the surface then all bets are off on how they can ever move forward (the robots can't enter the reactor's cus rads are so high but now the high rad corium tainted water is going to be all over the land) I think the level of access on the site that they've been dealing with for 2+ years will be more rapidly becoming complete 'NO GO' areas.


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  • weeman

    As I said when steam was observed and ground water levels increased along with contamination levels rose, something has changed at the facility, well now we know, it is my believe that at that time tepco sealed a major leak to the ocean about a month ago, which has been leaking into ocean all along and hence sudden rise in water table and water is coming in contact with remnants of the corium hense steam or vapour.
    Your damed if you do and damed if you don't, all part of the deception or illusion, your pick.


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  • I just posted a note of THANKS to so many of you who kindly replied to my question on options to mitigate this disaster.

    Please go to: http://enenews.com/tepco-situation-fukushima-bleak-discharge-beyond-control-video

    ~~~~~~~~~~

    My note is on an article now left far behind, since new ones are being posted here with increased frequency, as the desperate urgency of this tragic event begins to be acknowledged by authorities and the mainstream media – finally, two and a half years too late.

    ~~~~~~~~~~

    Given the spiraling out of control of the situation, the other question that comes to mind now is What's the worst case scenario for the next few months, and in the long term.

    Considering the ineptitude and even dishonesty of those responsible for the mismanagement of the Fukushima disaster, it's quite realistic to start considering worse case scenarios.

    I am still hopeful that an expert will call a press conference one of these days and say, This is what could bring things under control.

    In the meantime, let's brace for worse case scenarios.

    There are no words to express how profoundly sad this is. I'm grieving already.

    Tracy

    http://ottersandsciencenews.blogspot.ca/


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    • MoonlightEmpire MoonlightEmpire

      Worst case scenario (as I see it) is the nuclear domino effect: Fukushima Daiichi contaminates land and resources to the point that Fukushima Daiini cannot be maintained, and melts down (further, or again, or whatever). The combined effects of Daiichi and Daiini knock out another one or two, then on and on, faster and faster I would assume…

      Though it doesn't even have to be the radiation that does it. Daiichi could simply run out of workers and "shake the table" (that the other dominoes are on). Or even less; Daichii irradiates one too many workers, causing shortages at other plants in Japan, which results in a seemingly un-related plant experiencing meltdown.

      The plants are all over the world, in all countries. Even just economic stresses can cause meltdowns. We're lucky we didn't have one in the United States during the housing crisis. Some regular guy has his house swept out from under him…doesn't show up to work at his regular time…misses an alarm, and pop goes the region (or the country…or the hemisphere…or the…).

      Worst case scenario is every day of our lives while the Nukes are still operating.

      If I'm getting to be too much, someone tell me to cool my jets…


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      • many moons

        I think you are right about everything moonlight,….this is what will happen, nuclear domino effect…the workers won't be able to survive the radiation, they will die or leave the plant and no one will make sure the water cools the spf etc. and the radiation will increase and the people won't be able to survive those levels of radiation…then the radiation will continue to move around the planet and we will have no where to go except under the ground….for a couple thousand years….
        Why are we doing this to ourselves or letting others do it to us??…no amount of money is worth it….to see the world destroyed and the people dying, suffering, the plants and animals all dead.
        The death knell has rung…


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  • davidh7426 davidh7426

    I'd like to believe that they have a competent geologist on call, and that the person/s who came up with this 'brilliant idea' consulted the aforementioned competent geologist.

    Who explained in words of one syllable, the dangers of letting water pool below ground, the dangers of LIQUEFACTION in a seismically active area, that has all the stability of half set jelly.

    I'd LIKE to believe it, BUT I DON'T…

    These clowns couldn't arrange a proverbial "Piss-up in a brewery" without destroying the brewery.


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  • byron byron

    Worst Case contest. Moderate earthquake causes liquefaction. Building(s) crumble. Too radioactive to work. Reactors 5 and 6 melt down. Plant number 2, six miles to the South too radioactive to maintain, melts down. And people continue to eat seafood.


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  • NeverAnyDanger

    Pretty soon we'll be getting overwhelmed with information about how the ocean is a big place and you'll get more radiation walking to your car than from just letting the contaminated water flow directly into the ocean. The radiation safety levels will be raised. Problem solved.

    And what do they mean they're out of storage tanks? They've had 2 1/2 years to manufacture tanks.

    Everything Tepco does leads to a worse problem.


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    • jec jec

      They are already saying that..and hiding the "phoney rumors" such as dead seals and sea lions in the Pacific. Darn it, "those animals keep getting sores, and losing hair and getting sick or dying"…tell them its a 'rumor'..(sarcasm).


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    • They are not out of tanks, just out of room to put them. They have filled up the entire place with over 1,000 tanks and other storage containers like huge rubber bladders.

      All of them designed to last about ONE YEAR, just temporary storage, with NO WARRANTY.

      Now what?

      Lots of leaks

      Tanks not designed to last this long

      Running out of room

      Running out of options

      Running out of manpower

      Running out of money

      Running out of time

      Heard in the background (start up the printing presses)

      Money problem solved, temporarily..


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    • mairs mairs

      The current talking point is that there is more tritium in exit signs than in the entire release into the Pacific, and of course tritium is the only radioactive substance in the release. People are actually thanking them for easing their fears.


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  • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

    You left out the part about the Radioactive Zombies roaming the Earth !!!

    They aleady are….


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  • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

    oops..They already are…


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  • Jebus Jebus

    Fukushima is by volume the largest radiological release of manmade radionuclides in the history of humans and still growing.

    By damage to all life on this planet, Fukushima is the most severe issue man faces, now and into the future.

    Nothing else matters if this continues to contaminate the ocean.


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  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Groundwater..is part of the water cycle.
    It has many forms.
    (the delicacy of form..again)
    It is not something that can be contained..EVER.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groundwater


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    • jec jec

      Dear Heart, you are trying to provide facts to those criminal people who are making up facts to coverup their own man-made disaster. Its useless..they will continue to lie and coverup, no matter what the facts are. But appreciate the total effort you are making trying to get attention to this disaster..the true facts and the situation. Very appreciative of all you do–it takes a LOT of work!


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      • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

        No..my audience is not the criminals..
        They have long turned a deaf ear.
        My audience..hopefully..is the populace..those that will suffer.
        That we might..live and die with honor..and respect for life itself in our hearts.
        Not bent and broken…on our knees.
        This is all we have left to show the people ..they are loved.


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        • davidh7426 davidh7426

          Rose… that almost sounds like a "Call to Arms"…

          If that's true, than it is a sad day, though one that I suspect is long over due.


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          • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

            A "Call to Arms"..yes.
            The pro-nukes are going to put on another strong offensive now.
            Scientific reality will be the deciding factor.
            It won't be found in the 'doctored' papers of the experts..but by natural observation..as the physical world about them changes.

            We survived the last pro-nuke PR push..by carrying on as always.
            No matter how painful the truth..there is still comfort ability in truth.
            May we all find respite.


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  • Dr. Holger Strohm – Plutonium From Fukushima Will Kill Millions – Via Recycling Through Many Future Generations; via @AGreenRoad
    http://agreenroad.blogspot.com/2013/08/dr-holger-strohm-fukushima-up-to-12000.html


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  • newsblackoutUSA newsblackoutUSA

    There are so many issues, all going on at the same time…Hanford, spent Uranium tipped warheads being used in warfare with 5 billion year 1/2 life, Fukushima, all the reactors everywhere that have spent fuel rods in pools waiting for a natural disaster to expose them to start a melt down..the gulf oil spills, the oil spill in Thailand, Bayou Corne, the oil spill in Canada….where do we go from here? In the article, seeing they are discussing "softening" of the Earth from the melt down, I wonder if Fukushima is the death nail….what's next?


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  • dopestone dopestone

    First time poster. Long time reader.

    I have read on here from many posters that collapsing of spent fuel pools is pretty much a game changer in terms of the "no immediate danger" lexicon.

    Every earthquake we feel as if though the tremors have reached our doorsteps and while we are still trying to wrap our heads around the endless geo-engineering assault, we wonder if this is not all intentional?

    I liken it to ant traps, we are drawn to them, we willingly enter but do not have the luxury of walking out, or for very long.

    Every nuke plant is another ant trap, perfectly laid out in our most populous areas for the simple task of irradiating us and leaving us like bugs on our backs with our legs stretched upwards.

    Where is there still clean air, water, and soil? All of my musings fall on deaf ears, even my facebook feed would rather ignore these news stories. It is truly sad.

    I just want to thank a lot of you on this website for being my teachers and my friends, and for equipping me with knowledge and understanding. Better to see it coming than to say "Oh God, why do my knees ache and my skin burn and why is this Salmon so delicious?" Ignorance is public policy. Thank you Enenewsers! I hope to contribute a fraction of as much as you all have contributed to my life!


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  • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

    tooktheredpill,

    I have asked this before and I will ask it again does anyone have any recent pictures or series of pictures showing any humans actually working on site at this disaster?

    What makes us think any work is being done?


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  • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

    A dozen guys does not make an effort or sacrifice…but thanks! Couple thousand in one picture might.


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  • Gasser Gasser

    From all that I've read, seen and heard, in the past years here's my gut feeling scenario in a few words, as time passes more and more folks will get sick including the operators of the Nuclear plants who some day so sick they won't be able to go to work, everybody's offspring will get so sick just going to school will not be an option anymore, there will be fewer and fewer teachers and scientific professors, soon there won't be anyone smart enough or physically able to shutdown and disassemble the 400 plus reactors and other Nuku shit world wide…you can see where this is going…nuff said :(


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  • We Not They Finally

    They can't just force all that water INLAND? No one even suggests that. But they HAVE NO RIGHT to contaminate THE WORLD'S water, so they should force it back inland and let JAPAN drown. (I mean not the people. Those poor people need to be EVACUATED.)

    Too much trouble for them? Too much risk for THEIR OWN economy? I wish we were all trained samurai and could show them what to do with their poisoned water. Like one step more towards the Pacific, when you COULD HAVE just forced the water to flow inland, and you can deal with the swords we are all pointing at YOU.

    What a scene that would be! Evil mass murderers have to finally own up and shove the poisoned water into their own grotesquely disfigured souls.


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    • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

      My suggestion is to continue the Impermeable Wall they are driving into the ground, in a rectangle entirely around Units1,2,3,&4.
      Drill shallow extraction wells along the harbor, inside the Impermeable Wall.
      Drill shallow injection wells uphill from Reactors1,2,3,&4, inside the Impermeable Wall.
      Build a couple of cooling towers.
      Pump water from the extraction wells, through the cooling towers, and back into the injection wells.
      This system would become a Closed Loop Heat Sink for cooling the reactors and any corium in the ground.
      Divert all groundwater outside the Impermeable Wall around the Wall enclosure, and into the Ocean.

      TEPCO's Pump & Dump Plan is to build the Impermeable Wall only halfway around Units1,2,3,&4, along the harbor. They will use a series of extraction wells located uphill and inland from Reactors1,2,3,&4 to remove 100 tonnes of groundwater per day, before it has become highly contaminated, and before it has flowed under the reactor buildings. This groundwater is to be tested and dumped into the ocean. The affect will be to lower the water table, and lessen the amount of highly contaminated groundwater that is flowing into the Pacific Ocean.
      Pump & Dump will prove to be only partially effective, IMO. A Closed Loop Heat Sink is a much better idea, and would contain the most highly contaminated groundwater within the Impermeable Wall enclosure.


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  • Cerviche

    Nothing that has been created with destruction as its sole purpose should be used as a form of energy…..


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