Thursday, August 8, 2013

Japan officials: 300 tons of highly radioactive water leaking into the ocean each day

Tepco considers a plan to freeze the ground around the plant 

The situation in Fukushima is taking on a more urgent tone over the last few days, with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appealing to his government to find "multiple, speedy and sure" ways to address the groundwater situation in Fukushima. Why is Mr. Abe resorting to such urgency? Tepco's history of procrastination has reached legendary status. They often reveal significant developments only when absolutely necessary, and often late in the process after much stonewalling or equivocating with the press over the problem.

Historically, though, Tepco is quick to offer solutions. To address the latest crisis, they've come up with a decent idea straight out of the mining engineers playbook - ground freezing, which essentially creates an impermeable barrier the strength of concrete or even greater (in certain situations) to stop underground flow of water. This could provide the short term solution Tepco desperately needs until they figure out a sustainable way to store all of the irradiated water coming from the reactors.

About a year ago, I recall Tepco considering the use of old, unused oil tankers as a storage possibility. I'm sure they canned the idea when they discovered nobody would skipper the darn vessel due to ungodly amounts of radioactivity produced by a tanker full of Fukushima water.

Click to see a University of Washington presentation on ground freezing 

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