Blog Archive

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Tepco starts filling cable trench with cement as it pumps out radioactive water

Tokyo Electric Power Co. started work Tuesday to fill an underground trench at the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant with cement while pumping up radioactive water inside at the same time.

The power company reported the beginning of the cement-pouring work for the cable trench for reactor 2 at a meeting in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, with government representatives on measures to deal with increasing radioactive water at the power station.

Tepco expects to finish the work by the end of next March. The company will begin next month pouring cement in reactor 3′s trench, hoping to complete the work also by the end of March.

The trenches for the two reactors are estimated to hold 11,000 tons of radioactive water in total. The water is believed to be causing the pollution of groundwater under the seaside section of the power plant.

On Tuesday, Tepco injected 80 cu. meters of cement in the reactor 2 trench in an operation that lasted two and a half hours from around 9:30 a.m. The trench holds radioactive water that has flowed from the reactor’s turbine building.

At first, Tepco planned to stop the flow by freezing water inside the joints between the turbine building and the trench so that it can entirely remove the radioactive water from there.

But Tepco could not fully freeze the water or block the flow. So, the firm switched to the current plan to inject cement in and remove the radioactive water from the trench simultaneously.

Source: Japan Times

Fukushima I NPP: Plan C Also Failed in Plugging Reactor 2 Trench... Now What?

November 24, 2014
Plan D of Course!

But first, recall that Plan A was to install freezing pipes at the head of the trench leading from Reactor 2 turbine building to create an ice plug so that the extremely contaminated water that had been sitting in the trench since the very beginning of the nuclear accident could be pumped out. TEPCO started the work in April this year.

That failed. The ice plug didn't quite form.

Then recall that Plan B was to dump tons (literally) of ice and dry ice in the trench near the freezing pipes to lower the temperature of the water around the freezing pipes so that the ice plug would finally form. Workers dumped ice all day and all night, in the high ambient radiation right at the trench. That was in hot August. Try to freeze the trench with ice in hot August.

That also failed. Dry ice clogged the pipe, and the ice plug didn't quite form, and TEPCO admitted there was water still coming into the trench from the turbine building. The water sitting in the turbine building comes from the reactor building after it cools the molten core somewhere in the building, and it is warm.

So TEPCO came up with Plan C.

What was Plan C? It was to fill the gap between the incomplete ice plug and the turbine building wall with fillers. TEPCO chose the combination of grout and concrete. A plug of ice, grout and concrete was formed. Sort of.

From TEPCO's document uploaded at Nuclear Regulation Authority's site on 11/21/2014, the plug - pink and light green in the diagram is grout (different types), dark green is concrete:

That failed, just as I predicted.

TEPCO finally admitted on November 17 that it was a failure after pumping out some 200 tonnes of this highly contaminated water on November 17 and seeing that the water level in the trench didn't go down as much as they had calculated. The water was still coming in from the turbine building, and the groundwater was probably seeping in.

But not to worry. TEPCO has Plan D, and it has been already approved by Nuclear Regulation Authority.

So what is Plan D? To fill the trench with cement while pumping out the water that gets displaced (in theory) by the cement.

(Do you want to bet whether that is going to fail?)

From Mainichi English (11/18/2014), from the original Japanese article on 11/17/2014:

An effort to stop contaminated water from flowing into a trench at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant failed to completely halt the flow, announced Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the plant's operator, on Nov. 17.

A TEPCO representative said, "We believe we have not completely stopped the water. Groundwater may also be entering the trench. We will closely analyze the changes in water level in the trench."

TEPCO says that when around 200 tons of contaminated water was removed from the trench, the water level in the trench should have fallen by around 80 centimeters if the point of leakage between the plant's No. 2 reactor turbine building and the trench had been fully sealed. However, the water level only fell by 21 centimeters, so TEPCO determined that the leak must be continuing.

...While the water remains in the trench, TEPCO cannot create a planned underground wall of frozen soil around the No. 1 through 4 reactor buildings to stop water leakages.

And this image from Tokyo Shinbun (11/21/2014):

and reference to Plan D:


(TEPCO) will propose (to Nuclear Regulation Authority) a new method of plugging the trench by pouring in the special cement that spread thin and wide in the water while removing the contaminated water in the trench gradually.

Special cement?

TEPCO says in the document (page 9) they submitted to NRA that it will be a mixture of cement, fly ash and underwater-inseparable admixtures (セメント、フライアッシュおよび水中不分離混和剤などの配合調整). They will use the tremie concrete placement method.

(Do you want to bet whether that is going to fail?)

The NRA meeting on November 21, 2014 was funny without participants intending to be funny, from what I read in the tweets by people watching the meeting.

At one point, Commissioner Fuketa exasperatedly asked TEPCO representatives, "So what was the point of trying to freeze the water? Was freezing even necessary at all?"

The answer was no. TEPCO's Shirai admitted (according to the tweet by @jaikoman on 11/21/2014) that there was a talk inside TEPCO that the ice plug was not necessary.

So why did they do it, and why did NRA approve it?

No one knows and no one is held accountable, while workers had to set up freezing pipes, then to pour ice, dry ice, grout, concrete, and to pump this highly contaminated water over the past 8 months in high radiation exposure. TEPCO hasn't disclosed the radiation exposure for the workers.

Spource: EXSKF

LDP Government in Japan on Suicide Mission

November 24, 2014

The LDP aims for collective suicide by extending Japan's nuclear reactors' life span to 60 years while pushing forward with the Oma nuclear plant, which will purportedly be the world's first 100 percent MOX facility!
Does everyone remember what Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 explosion looked like? Unit 3 was running MOX fueld. Its explosion strongly resembled a mushroom cloud and has been interpreted as involving a nuclear criticality. Plutonium from the Daiichi explosions, likely from Unit 3, was found in Lithuania.
MOX fuel is extraordinarily dangerous. Japan's earthquake activity has been increasing. At least one of Japan's volcanoes is displaying increased activity. Japan must be intent on self-destruction and will take the Pacific Ocean and North America with it, if the US, Russia, UK, or France, don't beat them to annihilating humans on Earth:

Gen Kaga, Toshio Kawada, Koji Nishimura and Tomoyoshi Otsu (2014, November 14) Nuclear operators push to open new plant, extend life of aging reactors. The Asahi Shimbun,

The government set the acceptable operational term of nuclear reactors at 40 years, in principle, after the Fukushima disaster, but it allows utilities to extend the period on a one-time basis by a maximum of 20 years....
The Oma plant will be the world’s first 100 percent MOX nuclear facility, where only mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel, consisting of plutonium and uranium, is used at reactor cores for the purpose of consuming plutonium produced in processing spent nuclear fuel.
At conventional plutonium-thermal nuclear plants, MOX fuel is used at just one-fourth to one-third of their reactor cores at most, and conventional uranium fuel is used for the remaining part. Compared with uranium fuel, it is more difficult for control rods to suppress nuclear chain reactions of MOX fuel.

Although countermeasures, such as enhancing the capabilities of control rods and introducing larger tanks for boric acid water to better control atomic reactions, will be taken at the full MOX facility, those efforts are expected to be carefully examined during the safety screening by the NRA to check if they are sufficient.... “No full MOX facility has so far gone online around the world,” NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said at a Nov. 12 news conference. “We will examine extremely carefully (if countermeasures are sufficient).”
Unbelievable. That is all I can think to write.

Meanwhile, emissions at Daiichi look worse this morning than they have the last week or so. Radiation readings in the US have been higher than I've seen since winter 2011. The forces of entropy reign.

Source: Majia'Blog

Work starts to fill tainted underground tunnels


Workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have started pouring cement into underground tunnels filled with highly radioactive water.

The effort is aimed at replacing the water with cement. The water is believed to be leaking into the nearby sea after mixing with groundwater.

Workers on Tuesday poured into the tunnels 80 cubic meters of cement that can solidify in water. The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, said the water did not overflow during the work.

The operator says it plans to check the effectiveness of the measure in about a month after suspending the work temporarily. It says if there are no problems, it will resume the work to finish it by March.

The firm initially planned to freeze water at the ends of the tunnels to stop inflow from reactor buildings, and remove the contaminated water. But the plan did not work. By last week, the utility had decided to adopt the new method.

Workers using the method are likely exposed to more radiation than under the original plan.
Source: NHK

Saturday, 22 November 2014

After failures, TEPCO to use special cement to prevent contaminated water leaks

November 22, 2014 

The operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant plans to fill in trenches on the coastline in yet another attempt to prevent highly contaminated water from pouring into the sea.

Under the plan, approved by the Nuclear Regulation Authority on Nov. 21, Tokyo Electric Power Co. will inject a special cement mixture into the seaside trenches of the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors while pumping up radioactive water accumulating in them.

The special mixture does not absorb water so it can spread more easily along the bottom of the trenches, displacing the tainted water.

The new method will allow radioactive materials to remain in the surrounding soil, but TEPCO decided to employ the technique because it puts high priority on preventing massive amounts of highly contaminated water from leaking into the ocean.

This spring, TEPCO tried to stop the water influx at the trench for the No. 2 reactor by freezing the junction of the turbine building and the trench, but the operation was tough-going.

The company then attempted to stop the water inflow with a cement mixture, but was unable to do so completely.

Source: Asahi Shimbun

TEPCO gives up on freezing tainted water

The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is drastically changing its plan to remove highly radioactive water from underground tunnels at the facility.

The tunnels have been inundated with water from the plant's heavily contaminated reactor buildings.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, this year began work to freeze water at the ends of the tunnels to block the inflow. The firm finished the work early this month.

But TEPCO officials found that water levels in the tunnels were still changing in sync with volumes in the reactor buildings.

The officials admitted to the Nuclear Regulation Authority on Friday that the tunnels hadn't been plugged.

They said they're giving up on the plan, and proposed pouring cement into the flooded tunnels while removing water from them. They said they want this done from late November.

The authority's commissioners asked whether the new method can really halt the inflow. They also spoke of the risk of cracks forming in cement.

The authority approved TEPCO's plan in the end, on condition that the procedure be halted in late December to see whether it's working.

Commenting on the change, one commissioner asked what all the trouble over the past months was for.
Source: NHK

Tepco fails to halt toxic water inflow at Fukushima No. 1 trenches

Nov 22, 2014

Tokyo Electric Power Co. admitted failure Friday in its bid to halt the flow of toxic water into underground tunnels alongside the ocean at the Fukushima No. 1 plant and said that it will try using a specially developed cement instead.

Some 11,000 tons of highly radioactive water have accumulated in the tunnels, trenches dug to house pipes and cables that are connected to the reactor 2 and 3 turbine buildings of the wrecked facility, according to Tepco.

There are fears that this toxic buildup, which is being caused by the jury-rigged cooling system and groundwater seepage in the reactor basements, could pour into the Pacific, which is already being polluted by other radioactive leaks. Groundwater is entering the complex at 400 tons a day.

Extracting the toxic water is a critical step in Tepco’s plan to build a huge underground ice wall around the four destroyed reactors to keep groundwater out.

Initially, Tepco sought to freeze the water in a section of tunnel connected to the No. 2 reactor building. This was intended to stop the inflow and allow the accumulated water to be pumped out. The utility said it took additional measures that also failed.

On Friday, Tepco proposed a new technique for the tunnels: injection of a cement filler especially developed for the task while pumping out as much of the accumulated water as possible.

Under the new method, however, it would be difficult to drain all of this water and some of it would be left behind, endangering plant workers, Tepco acknowledged.

Nevertheless, a Nuclear Regulation Authority panel of experts green-lighted the new strategy at a recent meeting. Some of the experts argued that Tepco should stick to the original plan and draw out all of the water. Others said giving up on it may hamper the construction of the ice wall.

Source: Japan Times

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Tepco unable to halt tainted water flowing into tunnels at Fukushima


Nov 18, 2014

Tokyo Electric Power Co. appears unable to stem the flow of radioactive water from the No. 2 reactor building to underground tunnels at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, officials said.

Tepco has injected cement into the joints that connect the tunnels, which are used to run cables, and the building to halt the flow of contaminated water and remove accumulations from the tunnels.

But water levels suggest the effort has remained unsuccessful so far, the officials said. The company began the cement injections after failing to create an “ice wall” over the summer by freezing water inside the joints that would have blocked the flows.

After the cement injections, Tepco pumped 200 tons of tainted water out of the tunnels Monday, causing levels inside to fall around 20 cm, the officials said.

However, if the joints were completely sealed, water levels would have fallen roughly 80 cm, the officials said, indicating the possibility that contaminated water is still flowing into the tunnels.

The officials also noted the possibility that groundwater may be flowing into the tunnels. However, recent data has shown that the amount of radioactive materials in the tunnel water was very high, an official in the Nuclear Regulation Authority said.

“Concentrations should have been lower if large amounts of groundwater are really flowing in,” the official noted.

If the cement injections end in failure, too, Tepco plans to remove radioactive water while injecting cement into the tunnel — an operation that could put plant workers at greater risk of radiation exposure.

The tunnels are believed to contain some 5,000 tons of tainted water. Some observers believe the water may be leaking into the ground and reaching the Pacific.

Source: Japan Times

Op-Ed: Fukushima disaster — Ignorance is bliss despite the dangers

The Sendai nuclear power plant will become the first of Japan's 48 commercial reactors to be restarted after they were all shut down since the Fukushima disaster in 2011

By Karen Graham     November 18, 2014

Little is reported in the media about the clean up after the Fukushima Power Plant disaster. After three years of cover-ups and misleading information, released to quell public fears, there is still reason to be wary. The danger is still very real. 

 The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in 2011 is still impacting lives today. Over 120,000 people from the area are living in a nuclear limbo, according to the guardian. Once close-knit families are now forced to live apart in temporary housing complexes, many of the homes hastily thrown up in an effort to get people out of radiation "hot-spots."

Japan's population has been inundated with half-truths and sometimes, outright lies, concerning the progress being made in the clean-up efforts in Fukushima. For the thousands of workers tasked with the laborious details of doing the actual work, just knowing their efforts are inadequate must be mind-numbing.

Fukushima Daiichi’s manager, Akira Ono is the man in charge of the clean up efforts, and he admitted to the Guardian that there is little cause for optimism. No matter what the workers do, there is still a huge problem with contaminated water. Over 400 tons of groundwater flow every day from the hills outside the plant and into the basements where the three stricken reactors are located.

There, the water mixes with the coolant water being pumped in to keep the melted fuel from overheating and causing another nuclear accident. TEPCO says "most of the water" is pumped out into holding tanks, but ever-increasing amounts end up seeping into maintenance trenches, and then into the ocean. This has to be depressing for Ono and the men and women walking into the facility every day.

While Americans have been sitting back and ignoring the ongoing disaster that is Fukushima, other countries have taken notice. Germany and Italy are looking at the viability of continuing to depend on nuclear power, and are opting instead for other more eco-friendly sources. And surprisingly, the news media in other countries is also paying attention to what has been going on at the Fukushima power plant.

Arnold Gunderson, a former high-level nuclear industry executive, was cited in an article written in Al-Jazeera English, entitled "Fukushima: It's much worse than you think," in June, 2011. In the story, Gunderson is quoted as saying, the Fukushima disaster was "the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind. Twenty nuclear cores have been exposed at Fukushima." Gunderson also points out that the site's many spent-fuel pools give Fukushima 20 times the radiation release potential of Chernobyl.

If people on the North American coast think they are safe from the effects of radiation from the Fukushima disaster, not only are they dreaming, but they are going to be in for a rude awakening. Yes, there were a few stories telling us the radiation levels reaching our west coast were "tiny amounts," But how many additional infants are going to die, and how many more people, children and adults are going to end up with unexplained cancers before someone wakes up to what is happening?

And the American public needs to wake up right now. We have nuclear disasters just waiting to happen in our own back yard. From the Diable Canyon power plant in California, to the Cooper Nuclear Station near Brownville, Nebraska that was almost inundated with floodwaters in June, 2014, the list is getting longer and longer. The Nuclear Regulatory Committee has been forced to ease up on some regulations or just ignore them when it comes to helping power plants in the U.S. to meet what officials call "unnecessarily conservative" standards. Yes, ignorance is bliss. That is scary, folks,

Source: Digital Journal

Contaminated water swamps Fukushima No. 1 cleanup

The Advanced Liquid Processing System of the Fukushima No. 1 plant is seen Wednesday

Nov 16, 2014 

More than three years into the massive cleanup of the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, only a tiny fraction of the workers are focused on key tasks such as preparing for the dismantling of the wrecked reactors and removing radioactive fuel rods.
Instead, nearly all the workers at Fukushima No. 1 are devoted to a single, enormously distracting problem: coping with the vast amount of contaminated water, a mixture of groundwater running into recycled water that becomes contaminated and leaks after being pumped into the reactors to keep their melted cores from overheating.
A number of buildings housing water treatment machines and hundreds of huge blue and gray industrial storage tanks to store the excess water are rapidly taking over the grounds at the plant, which saw three of its six reactor cores suffer meltdowns from the 3/11 quake and tsunami. Workers were still building more tanks during a visit to the complex Wednesday by a group of foreign media.
“The contaminated water is a most pressing issue that we must tackle. There is no doubt about that,” said Akira Ono, head of the plant. “Our effort to mitigate the problem is at its peak now. Though I cannot say exactly when, I hope things start getting better when the measures start taking effect.”
The numbers tell the story:

6,000 workers

Every day, about 6,000 workers pass through the guarded gate of Fukushima No. 1, located on the Pacific coast, two to three times more than when it was actually generating electricity.
On a recent workday, about 100 workers were dismantling a makeshift roof over one of the reactor buildings, while about a dozen others were removing fuel rods from a cooling pool. Most of the rest were dealing with contaminated water-related work, said Tatsuhiro Yamagishi, a spokesman for plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co.
The work threatens to exhaust the supply of workers for other tasks, since they must stop working when they reach annual radiation exposure limits. Experts say it is crucial to reduce the amount and radioactivity of the contaminated water to decrease the risk of exposure to workers and the environmental impact before the decommissioning work gets closer to the highly contaminated core area.

40 years

The plant has six reactors, three of which were offline when disaster struck on March 11, 2011, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake that triggered huge tsunami that swept into the plant and knocked out its backup power and cooling systems, leading to core meltdowns in the three active reactors.
Decommissioning and dismantling all six of the reactors is a delicate, time-consuming process that includes removing the melted fuel from a highly radioactive environment as well as all the extra fuel rods, which sit in cooling pools situated at the top of the reactor buildings.
The entire job still requires finding out the exact conditions of the melted fuel debris and developing remote-controlled and radiation-resistant robotics to deal with them, and the work is expected to take at least 40 years.

500,000 tons

The main problem is an abundant inflow of groundwater into the contaminated water that doubles the volume and spreads it to vast areas of the compound. Workers have jury-rigged a pipe-and-hose system to continuously pump water into the reactors to cool the clumps of melted fuel inside.
The water becomes contaminated upon exposure to the radioactive fuel, and much of it pours into the reactor and turbine basements, and maintenance trenches that extend to the Pacific Ocean. The plant recycles some of the contaminated water as cooling water after partially treating it, but groundwater is also flowing into the damaged reactor buildings and mixing with contaminated water, creating a huge excess that needs to be pumped out.
So far, more than 500,000 tons of radioactive water have been stored in nearly 1,000 large tanks that workers have built, which now cover most of the sprawling plant premises. After a series of leaks from the storage tanks last year, they are now being replaced with costlier welded tanks.
That dwarfs the 9,000 tons of contaminated water produced during the 1979 partial meltdown at Three Mile Island in the United States. In that incident, it took 14 years for the water to evaporate, said Lake Barrett, a retired U.S. nuclear regulatory official who was part of the early mitigation team there and has visited Fukushima No. 1.
“This is a much more complex, much more difficult water management problem,” Barrett said.

¥10 trillion

An estimated ¥2 trillion will be needed just for decontamination and other mitigation of the water problem. Altogether, the entire decommissioning process, including compensation for area residents, reportedly will cost about ¥10 trillion.
All this for a plant that will never produce a kilowatt of energy again.
The work threatens to exhaust the supply of workers for other tasks, since they must stop working when they reach annual radiation exposure limits. About 500 workers are digging deep holes in preparation to build a taxpayer-funded ¥32 billion underground “frozen wall” around the four reactors and their turbine buildings to try to keep the contaminated water from seeping out.
Tepco is developing systems to try to remove most radioactive elements from the water. One, the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS), has been trouble-plagued, but utility officials hope to achieve a daily capacity of 2,000 tons when it enters full operation next month. Officials hope to be able to treat all contaminated water by the end of March, but that is far from certain.

Source: Japan Times