Sunday, August 11, 2013

Tepco: Contaminated groundwater now 60cm above the protective barrier, now freely leaking into the sea

On August 5th, Tepco disclosed that radioactive water was rising fast, and could possibly breach an underground protective barrier within "3 weeks". It has officially done so just five days later, and it makes you wonder if every future assessment out of the power company will be of the most overly optimistic variety.

Nevertheless, understanding the challenging circumstances Tepco faces and giving them all fairness due, they are scrambling to find solutions and are presently mid way through building a system constructed to pump out an additional 100 tons a day. That system is expected to be up and running by "mid-August".

Here are some recent updates from Japanese news sources, translated:


"After solifidying the ground in the area along the sea, the ground water level started rising and it is feared that it has started overflowing and pouring into the sea. Tepco was planning to start pumping up that ground water at the end of this month, but after receiving instructions from the NRA to start as soon as possible, it is starting this week to dig small wells and to pump up water. The water will be temporarily stored in an underground facility, and later it will be stored in the storage tanks within the plant premises. Between July 31 and August 5, in the measurement wells on the side of unit 2, cesium concentration rose 14-fold, and all beta (including strontium) rose 46-fold. Tepco doesn't know the reason for the rise and is researching the details of the cause. Now, two years and 4 months after the accident, the concrete situation and the spreading of consequences of contaminated water outflows are still unknown, and responses are following each other like searching one's way in the dark with one's hand."


"The NRA has set up a new working group dedicated to the contaminated water outflow into the sea. It had its first meeting on 2 August 2013. It admitted that it is feared that the ground water has already overflowed over the solidified ground layer, as the water level rose. As a countermeasure, they announced a plan to install new equipments called "catch basins", and to start pumping up water at the end of this month. Opinions were voiced such as the opinion that the countermeasures must be taken more quickly than planned and the opinion that the ground water flow must be analysed in detail. The NRA has set up another working group whose task is to analyse the spreading of radioactive substances that poured into the sea and to assess the consequences on the environment. Tepco estimates the tritium released into the sea from May 2011 to July 2013 to be between 20,000,000,000,000 and 40,000,000,000,000 Bq. This is about the same amount as the yearly release that is allowed under the regulations for the plant under normal operation. As regards cesium and strontium, it will take more time to produce an estimate because this requires analysing the underground migrations."

Also, analysis is showing that radioactive water from Fukushima could reach the west coast in 3 years time.

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