Saturday, May 28, 2011

Radioactive Water From Fukushima Threatens Marine Life and Complicates Work at the Plant

The Fukushima reactor situations for 1-3 continue to deteriorate.

The reactors' containments are cracked so water used to try and keep the melted fuel from producing nuclear fission is pouring into the basements and throughout the plant.

As the article below from Japan Today points out, the “basements of the turbine buildings of all six reactors have been flooded by about 100,000 tons of radioactive water. That's enough to fill roughly 40 Olympic-size swimming pools.”

The amount of contaminated water is making it difficult for work activity to occur at the plant.

TEPCO has no place to store the water and it is ending up in the groundwater and sea.

Radioactive contamination in the sea is already staggering.

TEPCO plans to use AREVA’s technology to de-contaminate the water.

However, this volume of contaminated water is simply staggering and the costs are so high that my bet is its going to end up in the sea. TEPCO has already demonstrated their deceitful and greedy corporate culture.

Saturday, May 28, 2011
“As nuke workers wait, tainted water climbs” (block quote)


While Tokyo Electric Power Co. plans to set up a water treatment facility in mid-June to decontaminate the thousands of tons of radioactive water being generated at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, the utility must also find a safe place to store it before it leaks into the ground or finds its way to the sea.

Compounding the problem are the reactors, which are believed to be ridden with cracks, holes or damaged pipes that are allowing the water being used to cool what's left of the reactor cores to escape.

With the rainy season approaching, speed is of the essence. But experts say plugging the leaks is extremely difficult because of the high radiation, which means Tepco could be stuck with the water for years.

"The tainted water needs to be processed as quickly as possible," said Kenji Takeshita, a professor at the Research Laboratory for Nuclear Reactors at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and an expert on nuclear waste disposal. "If the amount continues to increase, there will be nowhere to store it. And if it overflows, the water could leak into the sea, which will be a big problem."

The tainted water is becoming such a big problem in fact that it is interfering with the beleaguered utility's main task of securing the stricken reactors.

So far, the basements of the turbine buildings of all six reactors have been flooded by about 100,000 tons of radioactive water. That's enough to fill roughly 40 Olympic-size swimming pools.

Tepco started pumping out unit 2 in April and unit 3 last week after leaks in cracked utility pits were found draining into the sea after being filled via trenches linked to the turbine buildings. But these operations had halted by Friday because the temporary storage facility set up for the water is nearly at its full capacity of 14,000 tons.

Now Tepco must wait for the water treatment facility. In the meantime, it has cut the water flow to unit 3 to 14.5 tons per hour from 15.5. Unit 2 continues to get 7 tons per hour.

The water will only rise, but the act of keeping it in the turbine buildings presents the risk of a leak somewhere making it to the Pacific, experts said. As of Saturday morning, water levels had risen to 3.382 meters in unit 2 and 3.570 meters in unit 3, up about 16 mm since 5 p.m. Friday.

The extracted water put in the nuclear waste disposal area is already a problem: It is leaking into a corridor connecting the two buildings storing it.

"The water is not stored in tanks but in the building, so there is the possibility of it leaking from somewhere" to the outside and flowing into the sea, said Akio Koyama, professor at Kyoto University's Research Reactor Institute and an expert on managing radioactive waste.

(YAH RIGHT) Tepco said the water in the waste disposal area is not entering the sea and that daily radioactivity tests show that ground water has not been affected. This may change as the rainy season gets under way and starts filling the trenches around the plant, which could overflow.

Much of Tepco's hopes have been pinned on the water treatment facility being set up by Areva SA. The facility removes radioactive substances from water, canceling out the danger.

…as long as the breaches in the pressure and containment vessels do not get fixed, any water that touches the melted fuel will flood the facility unless it can be trapped or stored…

…."Because of the high radiation, I'd assume the workers won't be able to build the cooling system that strongly," he said, confirming that it might not be able to hold up if big aftershocks occur.


NKH: “Radioactive materials found off Miyagi and Ibaraki” (block quote)

"Japan's science ministry has detected extraordinarily high levels of radioactive cesium in seafloor samples collected off Miyagi and Ibaraki Prefectures.

Experts say monitoring should be stepped up over a larger area to determine how fish and shell fish are being affected.

The ministry collected samples from 12 locations along a 300-kilometer stretch off Fukushima prefecture's Pacific coast between May 9th and 14th. It hoped to get an idea about the spread of nuclear contamination caused by the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Radioactive substances were found in all locations, including those off Miyagi and Ibaraki Prefectures, which had not been previously investigated.

Radioactive cesium 134, measuring 110 becquerels per kilogram or about 100 times the normal level, was found in samples collected from the seabed 30 kilometers off Sendai City and 45 meters beneath the surface.

Samples collected from the seabed 10 kilometers off Mito City and 49 meters beneath the surface measured 50 becquerels or about 50 times the normal level.

Professor Takashi Ishimaru of the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology says plankton most probably absorbed the radioactive substances carried by the current near the sea surface, and then sank to the seabed.

He said monitoring must be stepped up over a larger area, as radioactive materials in the seabed do not dissolve quickly, and can accumulate in the bodies of larger fish that eat shrimp and crabs that live on the seafloor.

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