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Clusterfukashima: This is really bad

Jeebus cripes:

Highly radioactive water seeping into the ocean from Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is creating an "emergency" that the operator is struggling to contain, an official from the country's nuclear watchdog said on Monday.

This contaminated groundwater has breached an underground barrier, is rising toward the surface and is exceeding legal limits of radioactive discharge, Shinji Kinjo, head of a Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) task force, told Reuters.

Countermeasures planned by Tokyo Electric Power Co are only a temporary solution, he said.

Tepco's "sense of crisis is weak," Kinjo said. "This is why you can't just leave it up to Tepco alone" to grapple with the ongoing disaster.

"Right now, we have an emergency," he said. ...

Contaminated water could rise to the ground's surface within three weeks, the Asahi Shimbun said on Saturday. Kinjo said the three-week timeline was not based on NRA's calculations but acknowledged that if the water reaches the surface, "it would flow extremely fast."

A Tepco official said on Monday the company plans to start pumping out a further 100 metric tons of groundwater a day around the end of the week.

The regulatory task force overseeing accident measures of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, which met Friday, "concluded that new measures are needed to stop the water from flowing into the sea that way," Kinjo said.

Asahi Shimbun:

The immediate concern is radioactive water seeping along the seaward side of the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors and spilling into the sea.

TEPCO is currently solidifying soil with chemicals near a levee to prepare the ground for the walls.

But as work has progressed, the water level in observation wells has risen sharply to about 1 meter from the ground’s surface, apparently due to the accumulation of groundwater blocked from the ocean.

Due to limitations in construction methods, the walls can only be built with their tops at 1.8 meters beneath the surface. That means the water levels in the observation wells have already risen above the top edges.

If such a situation continues, the completed barriers will be unable to prevent the water from reaching the ocean. In addition, calculations show that if the water levels continue to rise at the current pace, contaminated water will flood the surface in about three weeks.

One huge problem facing TEPCO in dealing with the water is the maze of pits constructed beneath the Fukushima No. 1 plant site for pipes and power cables.

Immediately after the nuclear accident started in March 2011, an estimated 11,000 tons of highly radioactive water spilled into the pits under the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors. Some of that water is believed to have leaked further underground from cracks in the pits caused by the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake.

The reactor buildings are still connected to the pits, making it difficult to shut off the flow of water that becomes contaminated in the cooling process of the melted nuclear fuel that remains in the reactors.

A working group of the NRA held its first meeting on Aug. 2 regarding the leaking of contaminated water at the Fukushima plant.

The nuclear watchdog raised concerns that TEPCO’s plan to construct walls to block the leakage would be insufficient, and proposed pumping up the contaminated groundwater.

However, a TEPCO official said installing a pump would have to wait until late August because of the continuing construction work on the walls.

According to one calculation, about 100 tons of groundwater would have to be pumped up daily to prevent the water from leaking into the ocean. But the plant is running out of storage space for the contaminated water.

TEPCO officials remain confident that the completion of the walls in October will alleviate the water problem.

Yikes. Maybe we could swap managements with the Japanese. The NSA could run Fukushima, and TEPCO could run that data center in Utah. We could hardly do worse.

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jo6pac's picture
Submitted by jo6pac on

a losing problem and animals & human race takes the blunt. Then there's the little blue sphere hurling through space wondering why the humans are trying to kill themselves and Mother Earth.

Hell these clowns don't even know were the cores are for 3&4, gone through the floor and building 4 MOX racks the last time I saw a picture were ready to fall. Then they had 6.0 earthquake just lately. Then in the madness they are trying to restart some plants.

More here and it looks like there has been a breach already.

Then according to 0 nukes are safe and coal is clean what's not to like.

Jay's picture
Submitted by Jay on

It's been an emergency for what, two years now?

I've heard there are containers coming from Japan that are practically glowing, getting put on container cars and being shipped via rail road all over the place. And that there is an accumulation of radioactive soot as far south as Tokyo. Also, fruits and vegetables from stricken areas being transported into Tokyo markets and sold there. (!) Seal die-offs as far east as California. I'm never going to eat seafood again. Ever.

Who needs an al Qaeda plot to blow up a nuclear reactor when we have an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement "guarding" the borders and a Department of Energy to *not* take or post oceanic and atmospheric Geiger-counter readings?

transcriber's picture
Submitted by transcriber on

That's ocean, yes? What about air? And is this just a projection or actual readings? Wondering what's happening (naturally? nah) down at the bottom of South America. I'd like an invisible barrier too.

Submitted by lambert on

... more than usual, but we need attestion or provenance on all pictures. It's not sufficient just to throw up a JPG! Who made it? What's the source of the data? And so forth.

Jay's picture
Submitted by Jay on

On the upper left hand there is the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration seal? It's on .gov websites everywhere.

Submitted by lambert on

C'mon. You want me to download the JPG, PhotoShop a Situationist International logo on it, put it back up, and then claim it's authoritative? Your snarky response pins my bogometer. Clever up.

Jay's picture
Submitted by Jay on

Would an animated gif of Cesium 137 simulations from noaa's ftp site help?

Here's something interesting:

Barry Ritholtz's site, from March 31, 2012. If all sorts of shit is leaching from the groundwater into the sea, the releases we saw in 2011 are just an appetizer:

What do you require? Proof that we should/should not be alarmed? What source would be acceptable? TEPCO? DOE? NOAA? We already know that the release is orders of magnitude greater than Chernobyl and that there are vast areas of Russia and Ukraine that are uninhabited/uninhabitable for centuries/millennia. There is potential for vast devastation throughout the Pacific, and recent reports are very disturbing. You don't need a lot of the right ingredients to make a very large area completely lifeless. I think it's too late and that those fisheries are dead but time will tell. I get the feeling that a lot of people just don't want to believe it because the consequences are too terrible and that it's a threat that doesn't exist because we can't see it. We can't eat the fish caught from lakes where I live because of the concentrations of lead and other heavy metals. Would you eat Blinky caught off the eastern shore of Japan? I'm not going to eat that until someone to tell me not to.

katiebird's picture
Submitted by katiebird on

I am NOT incredulous and didn't come close to implying that.

But, for me to share your image, I need a documented source. And (as I said) it would be nice to have some supplemental text material (I know .... a picture is worth a thousand words, but the 2 thousand words of both picture and text can have even more impact)

I don't know if you are aware of it but, one of the reasons Lambert and I started the PPACA FAQ series is to create a library of information that is linked to primary sources. That is, we don't just take the word of a newspaper article, we track the story down to where it began.

If your JPG was a graphic regarding the PPACA, we couldn't use it as you posted it because it fails the source test. I like it but, at that point, it wasn't a primary source.

Usually images can be linked and embedded directly from the primary source but, sometimes it isn't possible to embed the image into a comment or post from another site. In that case, I would upload the image to (here probably) and display that image. BUT send the link to the source site.

I would also --- just to make it clear what I'm trying to say and to make the source of the information totally obvious -- include a paragraph that says what I think is important about the image.

I guess it comes under the category of linky-goodness. But, it's also a curtesy to your audience so they don't have to hunt up the source themselves.

(And I'm still not cranky)

katiebird's picture
Submitted by katiebird on

Anyone can paste a logo onto a JPG.

I'd like to see the picture as a link from the original posting site. Especially if it has explanatory text ... linked and maybe quoted.

This particular JPG looks like something I'm really interested in and I'd like to be able to "share" the info with family and friends who never come here.