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.
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.
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.