TEPCO confesses: Contaminated water exceeds retainment capacity
The underground radioactive water under the Japanese nuclear plant at Fukushima exceeds the amount that the container was designed to retain in the basement, says the operator of the plant. This is not news, because the leakage of water into the pacific ocean has been happening for a while now and neither TEPCO nor the Japanese government did anything significant to prevent it.
About 300 tons of radioactive water have been discharged by TEPCO into the pacific ocean everyday, according to the Japanese Government, as a “protective measure” which authorities and Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) itself calls effective.
After about a month of tests and assignments, TEPCO reports that its technicians culminated the construction of an underground cutoff system, the result of injecting chemicals into the ground, placed right between the battered reactors and the sea.
A glitch in this measure of restraint, used to protect up to 100 meters from the shoreline in front of the plant to a depth of 16 feet, has caused the water to increase its level daily and in doing so exceed the container’s original capacity.
TEPCO confirmed that water exceeds by about 60 inches the basement insulation wall. The company confirmed this situation after checking the level through one of the observation wells from which personnel usually collects fluid samples that are highly contaminated with strontium and tritium.
Specifically, the problem is the 1.8 meters between the ground surface and the start of the underground wall, an unstable area where it is technically very difficult to harden the ground to prevent leaks to the sea, says TEPCO.
In addition, due to the effect of the rainy season, the groundwater level under the plant has increased significantly since early July, when TEPCO began building a wall insulation.
TEPCO says that last Friday it began pumping water through one of the observation wells, which experts say is filtered from the surrounding mountains to the basements of the reactor at a rate of 400 tons daily.
In addition, TEPCO says it will start an additional system of underground liquid extraction with 30 pipes, separated by 2 meters from each other. The pipes run along the entire front of the port area of ??the plant, where the sea is separated from the ocean by levees.
But even this measure falls short, because it will only pump up to 100 tonnes of radioactive water a day.
TEPCO also intends to freeze the ground around the reactors as another measure to control the leakage of radioactive water. To freeze the subsoil, TEPCO installed refrigerant pipes between the four reactor buildings affected by the tsunami of 2011 in order to create a buffer zone of about 1.4 kilometers long.
“There is no precedent in the world for building large-scale walls to insulate or freeze water through the soil. To do this, I think the government needs to step forward,” said this week Japanese Minister Yoshihide Suga .
Some 3,500 workers struggle daily against high temperatures and radiation while they work to dismantle the plant, a process that will take anywhere between 30 and 40 years.
Currently, the main obstacle for technicians is to deal with the huge amount of highly contaminated water that accumulates in the basements of the reactors which increase daily by groundwater seepage.