NRA [Nuclear Regulation Authority] officials said highly contaminated watermay be leaking into the soil from a number of trenches, allowing the waterto seep into the site’s groundwater and eventually into the ocean.
Both radioactive substances are considered harmful to health. An NRA official said Monday that the very high levels were likely to be even higher than those within the reactor units themselves.
It was by far the highest concentration of radioactivity detected since soon after Japan’s March 2011 earthquake and tsunami ….
TEPCO spokesman Noriyuki Imaizumi revealed the water level of the tainted groundwater in a test well located on the sea side of the No. 2 reactor has risen rapidly.
“If the water level continues to rise, it could reach the ground surface,” Imaizumi, an acting general manager of the company’s nuclear power-related division, said at a press conference Monday.
According to the company, the water level has risen about 70 centimeters over the past 20 days.
To prevent contaminated groundwater from leaking into the sea, TEPCO is working to reinforce the ground foundation of seawalls. The rising waterlevel in the test well means the measures to prevent leakage have been working.
However, the company apparently failed to give much thought to the fact that the groundwater would have nowhere else to go ….
Even Tepco admits that the groundwater problems are due to a lack of planning. NHK points out:
[Tepco] learnt on Wednesday that its efforts to prevent radiation-tainted groundwater from seeping into the sea are failing.
TEPCO has been trying to solidify the embankment of the crippled power plant.
TEPCO says water levels in one of the contaminated wells have risen by about 1 meter since the work began in early July.
It says this is likely the result of its work to solidify the ground [to a depth of 16 meters], using chemicals.
The company says soil up to 2 meters below the ground cannot be hardened, and water may be seeping out.
Atsunao Marui, head of the Groundwater Research Group at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, said, “Groundwater also flows beneath the seafloor, so it’s possible that contaminated groundwater could spring up outside the port.”
Marui added that water outside the port also needs to be carefullychecked.
Reuters notes that the bolts in Fukushima’s tanks will corrode in just a few years, and a plant workers reveal — “Tepco says it doesn’t know how long tanks will hold”:
Experts say Tepco is attempting the most ambitious nuclear clean-up in history, even greater than the Chernobyl disaster ….
Radioactive water that cools the reactors …]mixes with some 400 tonnes of fresh groundwater pouring into the plant daily.
Workers have built more than 1,000 tanks ….
With more than 85 percent of the 380,000 tonnes of storage capacity filled, Tepco has said it could run out of space.
The tanks are built from parts of disassembled old containers brought from defunct factories and put together with new parts, workers from the plant told Reuters. They say steel bolts in the tanks will corrode in a few years.
Tepco says it does not know how long the tanks will hold.
[Tepco's] appallingly shoddy handling of radioactive water that is leaking from the crippled plant into the sea.
At the No. 3 reactor, highly radioactive “mystery steam” has been spotted.
The fact that radioactive substances are still being released into the ground, the sea and the air is irrefutable proof that the nuclear disaster of March 2011 is not over. The responsible parties must take this situation gravely ….
The utility’s glaring ineptitude with crisis management was noted right from the start of the Fukushima disaster.
We have zero faith in the utility’s reliability as an operator of any nuclear power plant. In fact, allowing the company to handle nuclear energy is simply out of the question.
The entire company now needs to be focused on preventing radioactive substances from escaping into the environment.
Yomiuri argues that the government agency overseeing Fukushima has no idea what’s going on:
The Nuclear Regulation Authority, which oversees safety management at the nuclear plant, decided to set up a working team to analyze conditionsconcerning contamination.
But the NRA’s actions have also been badly delayed. At a meeting Monday, an expert said the NRA “still can’t grasp the risks posed by the current situation.”
In case one hasn’t paid attention the constant stream of international experts who have called for TEPCO to be removed as the organization in charge of decommissioning the crippled Fukushima Daiichi reactors, Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has also called for Tokyo Electric to be removed. “It is simply too big for one company to handle,” said Tanaka, at a press conference Wednesday. “Placing all the burden (of controlling the site) on them won’t solve the problem.”
It’s taken about two-and-a-half years, but it seems the Japanese government is finally losing patience with the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant. The reason: its haphazard approach to stabilising the complex. Last week it was unexplained steam rising from the shattered remains of the building housing the melted reactor number three. This week it’s TEPCO’s admission that radioactive water from the plant has probably been leaking into the Pacific for the last three months.
[Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide] Suga told reporters after the Cabinetmeeting on Tuesday that the government views this as a grave matter.
Tepco’s own advisors are also blasting the operator of the stricken nuclear plant. AFP points out:
Foreign nuclear experts on Friday blasted the operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, with one saying its lack of transparency over toxic water leaks showed “you don’t know what you’re doing”… “appears that you are not keeping the people of Japan informed. These actions indicate that you don’t know what you are doing …you do not have a plan and that you are not doing all you can to protect the environment and the people.” [said Dale Klein, Former NRC Chairman and Tepco advisory committee member]
Fukushima … seems to lurch from one problem to the next ….
When the situation is so bad that Shunichi Tanaka, the NRA chairman, is stating in a press conference, with regard to water leaks, that “if you have any better ideas, we’d like to know,” it should be clear that Fukushima No. 1 still requires the upmost attention.
Considering the state of the plant, it’s difficult to find a solution today ortomorrow… That’s probably not satisfactory to many of you. But that’s the reality we face after an accident like this… We don’t truly know whether that will work….