Photos reveal the presence of large quantities of metal being spread on the ground, supporting claims that liquefaction and underground radiation coming to the surface are effecting working conditions. With the utility not taking a comprehensive enough strategy when it comes to monitoring on-site radiation levels, and underground contamination, it is likely this problem like others, will worsen before it gets better.
For months, experts have held their breath as the groundwater contamination and radiation reports come out of Fukushima Daiichi. The latest photos seem to show that the utility is more concerned with keeping the problem underground than with coming up with a solution to the rising levels of contamination in the groundwater and rising levels of contaminated water in reactor basements.
Updated Information From TEPCO
It turned out to be true that water vapor (steam) was splashing (erupting) from underground in June.
10/13/2011, Tepco conducted measurements by robot around where water vapor was splashing.
They measured 4.7 Sv/h, where it was 4.0 Sv/h in June.
It is located at South east side of the reactor 1.
According to Tepco, it was splashing from underground in June, but now it’s stopped.
They assume it is the highly contaminated water that fills the basement floor.
It is assumed that melted fuel rods are sinking deep underground, which is called China Syndrome.
In April it was learned that radiation in the groundwater underneath the plant was over 10,000x the legal limit, which was so it TEPCO had to confirm the reading.
Now that NISA has released the documents showing they were worried about damage to the Spent Fuel Pools from aftershocks for months after the March 11th tsunami, it is more imperative to take a second look at the reports of ground activity. There have been multiple reports of water leaking into buildings, out of containments, into the sea, ground liquefaction, steam coming up from the ground, and numerous hot spots yet unidentified by the utility.
To date it has been difficult to understand how much this affects the workers, but as newer photos come out of the stricken plant, the visible effects can be seen.
All standing equipment, frequent work areas, and some areas where workers will be present for long periods of time seem to be using various metal plates underneath of them for either radiation or liquefaction fears.
In Reactor 3, TEPCO was forced to lay down special plates, to block the radiation that was coming up from the 1st floor, a mysterious event, not yet reported at any of the other reactors.
It is prudent to remember just how much water has been moving over this area, and that the saturated ground has also been experiencing severe temperature variations, all of which could lead to greater ground instability.
Match that with TEPCO’s plan for cooling the reactors thus far, which seems to have only been resulting in flushing as much radiation down the hole as possible. Where does it go? No one seems to care, out of sight out of mind.
Recently there have been many claims about the ability of the reactors to withstand the effects of the earthquake, but this theory is quickly turning out to be quite faulty as new reports of groundwater flowing into the basements of reactor buildings 1-4 at the tune of 200-500 tonnes a day have been reported by TEPCO.
What no one really wants to admit is that if water can get in, then contaminated water can get out as well. TEPCO has been one of the first to defend the buildings defense of the earthquake, but WHERE IS THE PROOF?
It may be that strategy is causing some unintended effects to working conditions as evidenced in the photos.
In April, the workers at Fukushima had been using iron and steel plates to prevent water from flowing underground into the sea, attempting to keep the contamination trapped underground near the reactors.
…we placed iron plates in the lagoon in front of the intakes in front of Units 1 to 4, to not let the contaminated water flow to other areas of the sea.
…we are placing six more iron plates at the intake of Unit 2.
We will plan further countermeasures such as the installation of steel sheet piles*2 to the south pier of the power station and the installation of equipments for radiation absorption.
*2 steel sheet piles: steel plates installed under the ground to prevent the out flow of soil or water
In an attempt to prevent future leaks, TEPCO installed seven additional steel plates at Unit 2 that would prevent water from flowing out the plant’s water intakes. Additional plates were expected to be added at the other Fukushima units.
However, these plates were later suspected of “stirring up” radioactive debris, and to have significantly increased radiation measured in the sea.
Constructions were to be started at the end of the year 2011 and should be completed in about 2 years time. In the evening of 21 September the arrival of typhoon Roke was forecast. Precautions were taken, the installation of steel plates at the plant’s water intake area was halted
However a collection of photos shows that the use of steel and iron to date is focused on limiting the radioactivity from the ground, and to support operations requiring workers to spend a lot of time in an area, or heavy equipment.
These photos seem to corroborate with worker tweets about the effects of liquefaction and radiation hot spots which they claim they constantly encounter.
August 13th, 2011 – Workers Reports Using Iron to Trap Radioactivity UndergroundThis was the description given to the SNA about the conditions for workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant by a 50-year-old construction worker who has been on site since mid-July.His main tasks at present are to remove wreckage scattered from the explosion of Reactor No. 3 and to lay iron plates over the radioactive ground using unmanned vehicles.
August 17th, 2011 – Workers say ground ‘cracking and radioactive steam escaping through cracks’
Host: “Workers at Japan’s Fukushima plant say the ground underneath the facility is cracking and radioactive steam is escaping through the cracks” [...]
Dr. Robert Jacobs, Hiroshima Peace Institute: “It’s a very serious and alarming development because this started to happen specifically after two large earthquakes in the last few weeks, there was a 6.4 on the 31 of July 31 and a 6.0 on August 12″ [...]
“It’s an indication that radioactive material is moving under the ground” [...]
[...]it’s not that theradiation is just suddenly going away, it means that the radioactive material, the melted core, is simply moving further away from where it’s been measured. And it may have — as a result of these aftershocks — be moving down out of the building itself.”
In early August,an actual Fukushima worker emailed to his friends.
“A lot of the cracks came up in the ground,massive steam is coming up from there.It’s too smoggy here,can’t see a thing.It seems like nuclear reaction is happening underground.Now we are evacuating.Watch out for the direction of wind.”
Whistle-blower in the gov
“I’ve heard that steam is coming up from the cracks in the ground.We are afraid of it.”
Another Fukushima worker,
“Near the reactors,there are a lot of the cracks in the ground,steam splashed out from there sometimes.and we have detected 10Sv/h at 6 places unlike gov’s announcement.”
However on August 15th,Tepco “confessed” a new fact.
That’s there is a huge pool on the basement floor of Fukushima,which is shared by units 1~4. They stock 6400 nuclear spent fuel rods in it,and groundwater is flowing into the pool through broken duct. Now the massively contaminated water is in it at least 9.0t. (6400 fuel rods is about 140% of the total fuel rods in the reactors. )
They say Tepco “found” this trouble on 8/13,but they can’t not know the fact since the very beginning of the accident.
On September 6th, TEPCO announced the plan to build an iron wall on the ocean side of the plant to prevent the leakage of radioactive water into the sea.
At that time some 110,000 tons of highly radioactive water remained in the basements of the plant. It was feared that this water could contaminate the groundwater and contaminate the ocean-water.
Thousands of iron pipes, 22 meter long and 20 centimeters wide, would create an 800-meter-long wall around the water intakes of 4 reactor facilities, deep below the sea bed to stop the flow of groundwater.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. plans to build an “iron wall” between the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility and the ocean to keep radioactive water out of the sea. Thousands of 24-yard-long iron pipes will be sunk into the earth, extending to below the sea bed, to create a wall around the water intakes for reactors 1-4. Construction of the 875-yard wall is expected to begin by the end of the year and be complete in about two years.
TEPCO seems to be running out of storage space for contaminated water, and at the same time is worried that the wood piles may catch fire after the trees were cut down to make room for storage facilities on the west side of the plant.
Workers have been clearing the forest inside the compound in order to set up the temporary storage tanks. The company is planning to sprinkle the treated water on the wood piles and the surrounding areas to prevent the wood piles from catching fire and to suppress the dust.
More data should be provided by TEPCO about the effects of liquefaction and underground radiation finding its way to the surface on the on-site work. If not properly monitored the utility has proven time and again that they are unable of planning ahead in great enough detail to handle the underground contamination problem in any sort of effective manner.
No one knows what the effects will be from this contamination, and just how far away it is able to be spread, but no one expects TEPCO to make decisions that do not benefit the utilities interest, and since they don’t seem to be thinking very hard about it, maybe it’s time for more international pressure to be placed on the government to ensure that the situation is addressed appropriately.