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A river of groundwater, 450 tons per day, is running through Fukushima Daiichi Units 1-4 according to calculations made by Asahi Shinbun. The water is interacting with water contaminated by the melted down reactor fuel, producing large amounts of highly contaminated water in the basements of the failed reactor buildings. Because the reactor basements are at an elevation near sea level they remains in constant contact with flowing groundwater. TEPCO has used the basements for storing water used to cool the melted down reactor fuel. Some reactor fuel may have melted down to the basement level to continuously interact with ground water. The exact location of the melted fuel assemblies in the failed reactor units has never been made clear by TEPCO.

 TEPCO is trying to clean up contaminated water with ion exchange resins, then using it for cooling water, but the decontamination system can't keep up with the large volume of water. TEPCO continues to expand the storage capacity for radioactive water to keep the basements from overflowing, but they are having trouble keeping up after heavy rains.

Meanwhile, cesium levels have stayed above regulatory alert levels in the ocean south of Fukushima.  TEPCO's Radiation measurements show  a continuous influx of radioactive cesium which is apparently being transported by flowing groundwater. The good news is that short lived radioactive iodine levels have stayed below detectable levels for months, indicating that no recriticality events have occurred.

Japanese blogger ex-SKF, who has been reporting on the accident since the tsunami has concluded that TEPCO is running out of space to store the contaminated water.

Does TEPCO have any plan to stop the flow of groundwater into the reactor buildings and turbine buildings, which just adds to the amount of highly contaminated water to be treated and stored? TEPCO is fast running out of storage space, even with cutting down more trees to make room for the storage tanks.

Other than spraying the low-contamination, treated water on the premise, the answer is no. No plan, as TEPCO is running out of money that it is willing to spend on Fukushima I Nuke Plant.

He translated the Asahi Shinbun report into English to make it available to a global readership.


It has been discovered that the contaminated water has increased by 40% in 4 months inside the reactor buildings and turbine buildings at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, with the inflow of ground water of about 50,000 tonnes. The flow still continues. TEPCO may run out of storage space for the treated, still-contaminated, water. There is also a possibility of the highly contaminated water overflowing from the buildings if a problem at the water treatment facility and a heavy rain coincide.


According to the calculation done by Asahi Shinbun based on the data published by TEPCO, about 450 tonnes of ground water per day have been flowing into the buildings of Reactors 1 through 4 since the end of June when the contaminated water treatment facility started the operation. It is considered that there are damages in the walls of the buildings.

Figures released today by TEPCO show a pretty constant (above regulatory limits) level of radioactive cesium isotopes in seawater south of the Fukushima reactors for the past 2 months. Because ocean currents are constantly moving the sea water, these data indicate that contaminated water is continually flowing from the breached reactors to the ocean.

Radioactive Cesium remains above regulatory limits at the ocean intake for units 1-4 south of the Fukushima reactor facility.

Radioactive cesium remains above regulatory limits at the trenches near the damaged reactors.

This Ashai Shinbon report shows the situation may deteriorate as TEPCO runs out of storage capacity for the highly radioactive water in the reactor basements. TEPCO has no plans for stopping the influx of groundwater and no plans for action when the storage capacity for contaminated water is exceeded. A TEPCO representative has admitted they have no prospects for solving the fundamental problem. Radioactive water will continue to flow into the ocean near the damaged reactors for the foreseeable future. Contamination of the ocean could get worse when the storage capacity is exceeded and the radioactive water overflows.


Concentrated, highly saline waste water after the desalination process is stored in the special tanks. As more water is processed, more tanks are needed. TEPCO is installing 20,000 tonnes storage tanks every month. To secure the space for the tanks the company has been cutting down the trees in the plant compound. There is a system to evaporate water to reduce the amount of waste water, but it is not currently used.


The water level in the turbine buildings where the highly contaminated water after the reactor cooling accumulates is 1 meter below the level at which there is a danger of overflowing. It is not the level that would cause immediate overflow after a heavy rain. However, if the heavy rain is coupled with a trouble at the water treatment system that hampers the water circulation, the water level could rise very rapidly.


The treatment capacity of the water treatment facility is 1,400 tonnes per day. TEPCO emphasizes that the facility is running smoothly and the circulatory water injection system is stable. However, if the current situation continues where groundwater keeps coming into the buildings that needs to be treated, the water treatment facility will be taxed with excess load, which may cause a problem.


It is difficult to stop the inflow of groundwater completely, and TEPCO is not planning any countermeasure construction. Regarding the continued inflow of groundwater into the buildings, TEPCO's Junichi Matsumoto says, "We have to come up with a more compact water treatment system in which we can circulate water without using the basements of the buildings. Otherwise we would be stuck in a situation where we have to treat the groundwater coming into the basements." However, there is no prospect of fundamentally solving the problem.

Originally posted to Japan Nuclear Incident Liveblogs on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 06:14 PM PDT.

Also republished by Nuclear Free DK, DK GreenRoots, and Ocean Advocates.

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Comment Preferences

  •  What happens when they run out of space (4+ / 0-)

    and money they are willing,  yeah, like it should be a clean up based on willing expenditures, to spend on containing the water?     All of it goes in the ocean, how long and how high can the concentrations get?   Is this the start of the end of any fishing in a huge area off the east coast of Japan?  How far do the more common species migrate that are in the area.

    Such a mess with no solution in sight as far as I can tell.

  •  Why doesn't the world spend the money? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FishOutofWater, Joieau, Sandino

    Whatever it takes to fix it or at least try to fix it.

    •  The radiation is coming to the states (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      adrianrf, kait, Sandino

      220 days later: Radiation levels in San Francisco-area milk remain above EPA’s Max Contaminant Level — Cesium-137 continues steady increase that began in August

      ... ...

      •  You could just go directly to the UC Berkley site. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        You get the actual data without the fearmongering hype.

      •  Yes ... (0+ / 0-)

        3.888 pCi per liter sounds very scary until you realize that milk already contains about 2000 pCi per liter of naturally occurring radioactive material in the form of potassium-40.

        By the way, the EPA limit (MCL) for beta and gamma emitters in public drinking water is 4 millirem per year or 8 pCi per liter of water, not 3 pCi per liter as claimed in your link.

        * Yawn *

        Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
        -- Albert Einstein

        by bryfry on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 09:08:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  By your own numbers we have tripled (0+ / 0-)

          our natural radiation exposure.

          •  Huh? (0+ / 0-)

            2000 + 3.9 = 2003.9

            which is not three times the value of 2000 pCi/liter from just one naturally occurring radioisotope.  You mean that we have increased out natural radiation exposure by about 0.2%.

            Math is not your strong point, is it?

            Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
            -- Albert Einstein

            by bryfry on Fri Oct 21, 2011 at 04:20:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

              •  Sigh ... (0+ / 0-)

                It's called units. Numbers for physical quantities are worthless without them. You might want to try reading a sixth-grade science textbook, which would explain how they work.

                The figure that you cite for the specific activity of potassium-40 in milk is 1.5 pCi per gram. The article that you linked to earlier expressed specific activity in units of pCi per liter.

                Since the density of milk is about 1.03 g/cc, a simple unit conversion reveals that

                (1.5 pCi/g) × (1.03 g/cc) × (1000 cc/liter) = 1545 pCi/liter

                Rounded to one significant digit (which is all that is needed in this example), that's 2000 pCi/liter.

                I have yet to meet an anti-nuke who can do even the most basic of scientific calculations, and here is yet more evidence of what I'm talking about.

                Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
                -- Albert Einstein

                by bryfry on Sun Oct 23, 2011 at 09:38:05 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  You're right (0+ / 0-)

                  But how does the gloating and condescension help your cause?

                  •  Well, how does ... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    pointless fearmongering and making amateurish mistakes help your cause?

                    My initial reply was polite enough. However, the more you kept insisting, incorrectly, that I was wrong, the more I lost my patience.

                    This being a public forum, I'm not correcting you for your benefit. By pointing out your mistakes and emphasizing how very basic they are, I hope that those reading this will take away an important message from this exchange, so that the next time they run across some sort of idiotic, fearmongering claim on the Internet, they won't automatically take it at face value. I want them to question such claims with a bit of critical thought, and I want them to apply some context so that they understand, not just react.

                    Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
                    -- Albert Einstein

                    by bryfry on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 11:42:51 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

  •  Energy news posts many articles about (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kait, Sandino, Egalitare

    detected I 131

    For example,

    •  I-131 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      in the sewage sludge of a city is almost certainly from the pee of patients being treated for hyperthyroidism or other thyroid-related diseases.

      Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
      -- Albert Einstein

      by bryfry on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 09:13:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You forgot to read the link (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        S F Hippie

        The 131I was found in soil in a park, the sample also contained a nice helping of radioactive cesium, which is, AFAIK, not part of medically accepted thyroid treatments.
        They found 179 Bq/Kg 131I and 8438 Bq/Kg Cs in samples taken on 9/30.

        •  So let me get this straight (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          You want me to believe that spontaneous criticality is occurring in a cold reactor that is full of neutron-absorbing boron, and the iodine-131 that is produced by this fission somehow, not only manages to leave the containment, but is magically transported over 200 km to a random park in Tokyo. While it travels, it neither disperses, nor does it leave any iodine behind where it could be detected just outside the plant or in Fukushima Provence.

          No, this magic iodine all goes to this one park and to a sewage treatment facility, where it can have fun masquerading as iodine-131 that was used in radiotherapy. My goodness, that radioiodine sure is sneaky! ;-)

          Sorry, I still don't buy it. Bigfoot has stronger evidence going for it.

          No, radioactive cesium is not used to treat the thyroid; however, it does have medical applications. Cesium-137 is used to generate high-energy X-rays that are used for radiotherapy. It is also used in brachytherapy to treat various types of cancer.

          Since it has a longer half-life, however, it is quite possible that the cesium that was detected could have come from the accident last spring.

          Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
          -- Albert Einstein

          by bryfry on Fri Oct 21, 2011 at 10:48:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No evidence of recriticality at Fukushima (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bryfry, Recall

            We would be seeing iodine isotopes in water, soil & air at Fukushima if a "recriticality" event had occurred.

            look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "Forgive them; for they know not what they do."

            by FishOutofWater on Fri Oct 21, 2011 at 01:40:01 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Cold reactor full of boron: hallucination (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            The reality is that there is/are a molten core(s) somewhere under the reactor "containment" which is more like a sieve, and is full of boron to the extent that a sieve with groundwater flowing freely through it can contain a dose of boron water from 6 months ago.  Your sauce is very weak. maybe you should time warp back to when the term "Fukushima Containment" was not a laughable oxymoron, or at least to the point befor tepco admitted that the corium slag had melted through.  

            Thanks for playing though. It is always good to have industry talking points represented for open dismissal..  

            •  My "sauce is weak"? (0+ / 0-)

              Well, your imagination is very strong. Thanks for sharing your hallucination.

              What's missing? Oh yeah ... evidence.

              Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
              -- Albert Einstein

              by bryfry on Fri Oct 21, 2011 at 04:33:01 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  I had a friend who had Cs-137 (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bryfry, Recall

            treatments. They used "seeds" on small wires so they could be placed precisely. The dose rate was rather high, they did it in a small town hospital which was not too busy so they could clear out all the rooms around, above, and below hers for her aprox 30 hour irradiation. Recovered when the therapy was over, put back into shielded storage. Bought her an extra 5 years.

            Moderation in most things.

            by billmosby on Fri Oct 21, 2011 at 03:28:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Sounds like you're hot on the trail of a fugitive (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ... public urinator.

          And I take it you've never heard of the Goiania accident?

  •  Ah, yes. (7+ / 0-)

    Nuclear Power: Still stupid after all these years.

    •  Or, as said in the diary, in a phrase which covers (6+ / 0-)

      nearly every aspect of the business from mining it through "disposal,"

      "However, there is no prospect of fundamentally solving the problem."

      "Whatever you do, don't mention The War." Basil Fawlty, while mentally impaired.

      by Jim P on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 11:37:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  asdf (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joieau, Sandino

        I'm sure bryfry will have no problem burying the nuclear waste in his backyard.

        "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now." -B. Dylan

        by S F Hippie on Fri Oct 21, 2011 at 07:07:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Seeing as we get far more dangourous (in (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bryfry, Recall

          terms of the damage it's done and deaths it's caused) waste from coal, which none you anti-nukes are actually doing anything about, yeah, what little spent nuclear fuel there is, pay me a few thousand a year and I'll take a few casks off anyone's hands. I think I can fit about 3, maybe, in the backward (there go the artichokes and cabbage!).

          Why were are at, why don't you take the solar PV waste from...lets see...where is the only place they build them now...Chinese PV plants. We'll see who gets sick first? Deal?


          Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

          by davidwalters on Fri Oct 21, 2011 at 01:39:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  No, he just has a different opinion than yours (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bryfry, jeanette0605

          about nuclear power.

          look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "Forgive them; for they know not what they do."

          by FishOutofWater on Fri Oct 21, 2011 at 01:41:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Somewhat out of date report (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The Asahi Simbun's report is a little bit dated, in that they claim TEPCO has no plans to prevent groundwater ingress into the reactor basements. In fact they have been planning and designing sunken barriers (shieldwalls) to go around the reactors to prevent groundwater movements and its subsequent contamination, and they plan to start building the first section of shieldwalls at the end of October which should prevent groundwater escaping into the sea.

     As for the high levels of Cs-134 and Cs-137 measured in seawater as shown in the charts in the diary those samples are taken from the shore side of the silt fences blocking the free flow of water from the site into the open ocean. A couple of hundred metres away on the other side of the fences the readings of contamination in the seawter are very much lower to non-existent. Here's the charts for those locations reported on 21st October.

     Summarising the numbers there's one reading of about 10Bq/litre of Cs-134 about 30 metres offshore from the seawater discharge point for the number 5 and 6 reactors at Daiichi and the other open-sea readings are below the equipment's ability to measure them (4 to 9 Bq/litre).

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