Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 30, 2013

Water Problems At Fukushima Daiichi Foreseen

The New York Times reports on increasing water problems at the nuclear reactors that melted down at Fukushima Daiichi:

Flow of Tainted Water Is Latest Crisis at Japan Nuclear Plant

Two years after a triple meltdown that grew into the world’s second worst nuclear disaster, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is faced with a new crisis: a flood of highly radioactive wastewater that workers are struggling to contain.
“The water keeps increasing every minute, no matter whether we eat, sleep or work,” said Masayuki Ono, a general manager with Tepco who acts as a company spokesman. “It feels like we are constantly being chased, but we are doing our best to stay a step in front.”

While the company has managed to stay ahead, the constant threat of running out of storage space has turned into what Tepco itself called an emergency, with the sheer volume of water raising fears of future leaks at the seaside plant that could reach the Pacific Ocean.
“We were so focused on the fuel rods and melted reactor cores that we underestimated the water problem,” said Tatsujiro Suzuki, vice chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, a government body that helped draw up Tepco’s original cleanup plan. “Someone from outside the industry might have foreseen the water problem.”

"Might have foreseen" the water problem?

No. Not "might have". We did foresee this problem two years ago and we even suggested a solution:

While TEPCO is saying little about what it is doing at Daiichi it seems that their plan is to continue this "feed and bleed" cooling for the several month the nuclear fuel will need to cool below boiling temperature.

I believe that this is not sustainable. So far more than 60,000 tons of water were fed into the complex, got highly radiated and flowed out uncontrolled through various leaks. The turbine buildings with needed equipment are flooded. Some highly radiated water did flow into the sea. The measures to stop leaking to the sea are unconvincing. Groundwater radiation at the site has increased tenfold which suggests other additional leaks.
Feeding, contaminating and leaking additional hundreds of tons of water per day over several month is not a viable plan. TEPCO urgently needs to come up with a different cooling strategy. I stand by my suggestion to push a slurry of sand/boron/lead into the reactors which eventually will dry and form a solid mass preventing further leakage. Cooling would then take place through convection just like in Chernobyl.

While this would certainly make future disassembling more difficult, it would also prevent further leakage and radiation releases.

It is sad to see that the Japanese regulators and professional nuclear engineers could not see the problem, and a solution to it, when an amateur like me clearly could. It is still not too late to try a more permanent solution at Fukushima Daiichi. But with the incest between Japanese nuclear industry, politics and bureaucracy elites the more likely solution will be to pump the radioactive water into the sea. Have fun eating those glowing fish ...

Posted by b on April 30, 2013 at 8:17 UTC | Permalink


Did the NYT finally take note of the problem? The constant leaking and the shortage of storage has been in the news in Jpn for months now (and the work conditions at the plant, although only the more leftish press reports on that).
(but some kudos to Martin Fackler – he managed to write a reasonable article on the subject)

Posted by: Philippe | Apr 30 2013 9:28 utc | 1


Posted by: Pat Bateman | Apr 30 2013 11:36 utc | 2

"It is sad to see that the Japanese regulators and professional nuclear engineers could not see the problem, and a solution to it, when an amateur like me clearly could."

This problem has been evident from the first. What is gradually becoming apparent is the astonishing thoroughness of the cover up which has been going on. Japan being an ultra reliable satrap of the Empire, its rulers are allowed free rein to lay the grounds for long term health problems that will lead to millions of premature deaths through cancer. And unimaginable ecological consequences.

If ever there has been a case for Humanitarian Intervention it was on the day, two years ago, when Tepco and the government decided to sacrifice humanity to the nuclear village. That was an occasion for the UN Security Council to push the callous, greedy incompetents aside in the interests of all.

Instead it appointed a Tepco veteran to head the IAEA and returned to the more congenial task of provoking the Iranian government, on behalf of United States.

In recorded history there has never been a danger as great as that posed by Fukushima. And our response has been to pretend that it, and the vast quantities of radioactive materials pouring into the biosphere, can be ignored.

Posted by: bevin | Apr 30 2013 12:40 utc | 3

Fallout level spiked 26 times much as the average of this April

The reading was 100.4 MBq/Km2 (Cs-134/137). The average of this April was 3.85 MBq/Km2 until 4/26/2013.

For myself, I don't pretend to understand what any of these numbers mean, I just know that the fact that this situation isn't reported on every single day by the mainstream press is pretty much criminal.

Posted by: guest | Apr 30 2013 13:03 utc | 4

Another article shows that the workers taking radiation are making less than $20,000 a year, and finding new workers is becoming a "crisis".

Fuck up massively, then scrimp and save on the clean up. How else would anyone expect a corporation to act?

Posted by: guest | Apr 30 2013 13:09 utc | 5

Gee, b, its alright to talk here about Fukushima again?

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Apr 30 2013 13:43 utc | 6

Just another case of profits uber alles, I'm afraid humanity, at least the ruling class part of it, sucks!

Posted by: ben | Apr 30 2013 14:45 utc | 7

It doesn't seem to be hurting business.
TurkishWeekly, Apr 30
Japan ahead in race for Turkey’s 2nd nuke plant

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 30 2013 17:37 utc | 8

of course nuclear regulators and professional nuclear engineers CAN see the problems and solutions! however, TEPCO and the gov't are CHOOSING to do the wrong thing.
what do you think would happen to the nuclear industry if suddenly the powers-that-be cared that the ocean will be permanently polluted?
the water problem that is supposedly two years old in Japan is decades old all around the planet. the nuclear waste and meltdown odds and dangerous storage problems are the SAME in any country that has a plant or storage. in a country with a hundred of them, it's a hundred times bigger. personally, I think they like trying this out - dump it into the ocean and see if we can lower the bar for expectations. it's working so far.

Posted by: anon | Apr 30 2013 19:27 utc | 9

Thanks b for your words. Fukushima diary is the only place I know to read up on this... very helpful, but the tin foil hattery is difficult to parse.

That said, I have to wonder if the melting core/material hasn't burned so far down that simply burying the top in a boron blend would work anymore? What if it's in the groundwater table, doomed to rinse into the sea for an eternity?

Posted by: Eureka Springs | Apr 30 2013 19:59 utc | 10

There is without question a serious on-going problem in Fukushima but it is one that is greatly exaggerated. Basically the worst case outcome would render seafood from the Western Pacific inedible for years and possibly make the Northern third of Japan uninhabitable for generations. I did a rough calculation on the possible outcome if all of the isotopes in the spent fuel rods and melted cores were flushed into the ocean. This was a calculation on the isotope concentration (primarily Cs137) that would be found in the Pacific off the American coasts. Basically, the levels would not increase current background radiation from natural K40 by more the 20%. This is not a life threatening exposure.

During and after WWII we already had done that experiment. The reactors at Hanford Washington turned the Columbia River into an isotope soup that resulted in many times background radiation. That situation persisted from 1945 until the early 60s. I looked into this question very closely 30 years ago since I was born and raised to my late teens downriver from Hanford during this period and ate sea food from those contaminated waters. No increases in solid tumors or blood cancers were ever detected in the affected populations.

Posted by: ToivoS | Apr 30 2013 21:45 utc | 11

@11: there you have it. ToivoS gives us math that says the ocean can absorb all our nuclear waste. and he's living proof. let's make more.

Posted by: anon | Apr 30 2013 23:52 utc | 12

@11 "Basically the worst case outcome would render seafood from the Western Pacific inedible for years and possibly make the Northern third of Japan uninhabitable for generations."

Sounds pretty fucking "worst case".

Posted by: guest | May 1 2013 4:10 utc | 13

just a test. I think something I posted a few hours back didn't show up

Posted by: ToivoS | May 1 2013 6:01 utc | 14

Have fun eating those glowing fish ...

Aloha, b...! Sadly, I shall be cutting down on my consumption of Ahi(yellow fin tuna) sashimi...! I should also note that the State and Federal inspection regimes have announced new 'higher' permissiable levels of radiation across the food spectrum...! I have serious questions about our local Milk and veggies...! 8-(

Posted by: CTuttle | May 1 2013 7:45 utc | 15

The comments to this entry are closed.