Day 253 Pave paradise, put up a storage tank – for radioactive H2O

TEPCO clears woodlands of trees for storage tanks

November 18, 2011


The grounds at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant were once alive with the sounds of nesting wild birds. But that was before the Great East Japan Earthquake.

With an increasing amount of contaminated water to be stored, Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant’s operator, has chopped down thousands of trees on the premises to make way for storage tanks for the radioactive water.

Before the March 11 disaster, a plot of woods called “Yacho-no-mori (wild bird forest)” spanned 370,000 square meters, about eight times larger than Tokyo Dome, and was home to many native wild bird species. Nowadays, much of that space is home to giant metal storage tanks.

The view of the plant from an Asahi Shimbun helicopter showed that blue and gray tanks are filling up the space where wild birds once took wing.

The combined capacity of all tanks at the plant has exceeded 110,000 tons as of Nov. 17.

Water used to cool reactors at the plant, as well as ground water, has continued to flow into the basement of the plant’s reactor buildings after being contaminated. TEPCO has treated the water before transferring it into the tanks.

Currently, the tanks hold a total of about 90,000 tons of contaminated water, or 80 percent of their capacity. TEPCO still has about 80,000 tons of radioactive water remaining in the basements of the buildings of the No. 1 through No. 4 reactors.

TEPCO initially planned to dispose of all contaminated water at the site through purification processes by the end of this year, but with a greater inflow of ground water than expected, the prospect of realizing that goal now appears bleak.

23 prefectures not planning to accept disaster debris for disposal

MORIOKA, Japan, Nov. 19, Kyodo

More than half of 43 prefectures surveyed by the Environment Ministry about their plans for accepting debris from areas stricken by the March earthquake and tsunami say they are not considering doing so, local government officials said Saturday.

Their reluctance to help dispose of debris piled up in the disaster-hit region in northeastern Japan reflects their residents’ fears over contamination by radioactive fallout from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the officials said.

With the volume of debris too large for local governments to handle on their own, the central government is concerned that limited help from other municipalities will significantly delay reconstruction work.

Map of Current Radiation Data

放射性物質、風で再浮遊か 風向きで放射能濃度変化

Radioactive isotopes float on the wind

A research project by Ibaraki University and Tokyo University revealed that radioactive materials fall once to the ground and then get blown up again by the wind, so the radioactive materials are floating in the air. The research group collected radioactive fallout including I131, Cs134, etc. every 24 to 72 hours at 11 locations in eastern Japan and Tokyo areas from March through August.

They so far completed analysis on data for Fukushima city, Hitachi city and Mito city. The study find that the concentration of radioactive materials depends on wind direction, and when the wind blows from the direction of Fukushima Daiichi, it goes up 100,000 times above the level before the accident . When the wind blows from other directions, it goes up by 1,000 times above the level before the accident. The radioactive materials fall on the ground and get attached to soil particles that lift up by the wind and float in the air as dust.

Assistance Professor Kazuyuki Kita, Earth Sciences, Ibaraki University, says that the concentration level does not change after typhoons and that the amount of radioactive materials floating in the air may be related to how dry the soil surface is. Their research will be presented at the meeting of the Meteorological Society of Japan on November 17.

Dark Circle

1982 film about nuclear power and nuclear energy. Why have we not learned from history? If it’s not close to you, it’s not important, right?

In case anyone has forgotten….

News out of history from Jun. 8, 2011 (from the conservative Yomiuri Shinbun no less!):

‘Melt-through’ at Fukushima? / Govt report to IAEA suggests situation worse than meltdown

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Nuclear fuel in three reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has possibly melted through pressure vessels and accumulated at the bottom of outer containment vessels, according to a government report obtained Tuesday by The Yomiuri Shimbun.

A “melt-through”–when melted nuclear fuel leaks from the bottom of damaged reactor pressure vessels into containment vessels–is far worse than a core meltdown and is the worst possibility in a nuclear accident.

The possibility of the situation at the plant’s Nos. 1 to 3 reactors was raised in a report that is to be submitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

If the report is released as is, it would be the first official recognition that a melt-through has occurred.

It was revealed earlier that sections of the bottom of the pressure vessels where control rods go through have been damaged. Highly radioactive water from inside the pressure vessels was confirmed to have leaked out of the containment vessels, even outside the buildings that house the reactors.

The report also acknowledges problems with the vertical administrative structure concerning nuclear safety regulations. As a result, the report says, who was responsible for keeping people safe in the event of a nuclear accident was not clear.

The report proposes separating the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency from the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry and making it an independent organization. The report also proposes drastic reform of the nation’s nuclear administration, including the Nuclear Safety Commission.


Vessel damaged 5 hours later

The pressure vessel of the No. 1 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is believed to have been damaged five hours after the March 11 earthquake, according to an analysis by the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

The finding differs with a provisional analysis earlier released by plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., which stated the the pressure vessel was believed to have been damaged 15 hours after the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake.

On Monday, NISA, a nuclear watchdog body run by the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, disclosed the results of a detailed analysis regarding damage at the Nos. 1 to 3 nuclear reactors at the Fukushima facility. NISA estimates that the No. 2 reactor’s pressure vessel was damaged 80 hours after the disaster. TEPCO’s analysis contends the No. 2 reactor’s pressure vessel was damaged 109 hours after the quake.

According to NISA’s analysis, the No.1 reactor’s core began suffering damage three hours after the earthquake.

The No. 1 reactor’s pressure vessel was damaged at 8 p.m. on March 11, five hours after the earthquake. The No. 2 reactor’s pressure vessel suffered damage at 10:50 p.m. on March 14, while the No. 3 reactor’s pressure vessel suffered damage at 10:10 p.m. on March 14. NISA data showed the pressure vessels at the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors were damaged earlier than TEPCO’s analysis showed.

On the other hand, the No. 3 reactor’s pressure vessel was found to have been damaged 13 hours later than TEPCO’s data showed.

NISA presumed the vessels failed when there was almost no water in the reactor cores of the Nos. 2 and 3 reactors.

(Jun. 8, 2011)

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