Fukushima ice wall facing doubts as project nears completion

Barrier will block only a fraction of groundwater contamination

0823N-Fukushima-Daiichi_article_main_imageWork has begun on the final 7 meters of an “ice wall” at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

 

TOKYO — Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings began Tuesday the final phase of an underground “ice wall” around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant intended to reduce groundwater contamination, though experts warn the bold project could be much less effective than once hoped.

At 9 a.m., workers began activating a refrigeration system that will create the last 7 meters of a roughly 1.5km barrier of frozen earth around the plant’s reactor buildings, which were devastated by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdowns of March 2011. Masato Kino, an official from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry supervising the cleanup, spoke cautiously at the occasion, noting that “producing results is more important than the simple act of freezing” that particular segment of soil.

Tepco estimates that roughly 580 tons of water now pass through the ice wall on the reactor buildings’ landward side each day, down from some 760 tons before freezing of soil commenced in March 2016. About 130 tons daily enter the reactor buildings themselves, and Tepco hopes completing the wall will bring that figure below 100 tons.

By this math, the near-complete wall blocks only a little over 20% of groundwater coming toward it. But, as Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority said Aug. 15 when approving the wall’s final stage, the barrier is “ultimately only a supporting measure” to other systems preventing contamination. The main line of defense is a so-called subdrain system of 41 wells around the reactor buildings that pump up 400 to 500 tons of water daily, preventing clean water from entering the site and contaminated water from leaving it.

Slow going

Freezing of earth around the facility has been conducted gradually, amid concerns that highly contaminated water inside could rush out should the water level inside the reactor buildings drop. “Working carefully while keeping control of the water level is a must,” said Yuzuru Ito, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Setsunan University.

It is unclear precisely when the wall will be complete. The plan is to freeze soil 30 meters deep over the course of two or three months, completing the barrier as soon as this fall. But as the gap in the wall narrows, water flows through it more quickly, making soil there more difficult to freeze. “Water is flowing quickly now, and so it is difficult to proceed as we have so far,” a Tepco representative said.

Japan has spent some 34.5 billion yen ($315 million) in taxpayer funds on the wall, expecting the icy barrier to put a decisive end to groundwater contamination at the Fukushima plant. It now appears that a dramatic improvement is not likely, though the wall will still require more than 1 billion yen per year in upkeep. “The frozen-earth barrier is a temporary measure,” said Kunio Watanabe, a professor of resource science at Mie University. “Some other type of wall should be considered as well.”

https://asia.nikkei.com/Tech-Science/Tech/Fukushima-ice-wall-facing-doubts-as-project-nears-completion

 

 

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Highly radioactive water leak at Fukushima No. 1 nuke plant

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In the background, from left, the No. 1, 2, 3, and 4 reactor buildings of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant are seen, in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Oct. 31, 2016. In front are tanks used to store contaminated water.
Highly radioactive water has leaked from the disaster-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) announced on Aug. 17.
The estimated 50 milliliters of contaminated water remained inside the station dike, and there was no leakage to the outer environment, plant operator TEPCO said. An analysis found that the tainted water contained 22 million becquerels per liter of beta-ray-emitting radioactive materials.
According to the utility, a worker from a company cooperating with TEPCO spotted water dripping from multi-nuclide removal equipment at the facility at around 2:15 p.m. on Aug. 16. After the worker mended the part with tape, the leakage stopped.

 

Tritium at Fukushima: A Primer

There is much to be said about Tritium and Fukushima. I strongly recommend watching this interview with Kevin Kamps on Fukushima conditions, including and especially the huge volumes of tritiated water stored at the site:

 

Tritium is quite devious because its difficult to detect internally.
I’ve been thinking quite a bit about tritium. My friend Clyde Stagner introduced me to the ubiquity and dangers of tritium in the environment. You can read his book (Hidden Tritium at Amazon) and my blog description of his work here.

Today I had lunch with a friend who is an atmospheric chemist and we discussed how tritium in fog, or tritiated fog, might differ from ordinary fog.

We had a great discussion that I will follow up on later with implications drawn for webcam watching.

Living downwind from the Palo Verde Nuclear Power plant, and swimming quite often in open water, I imagine that I bear a certain number of hydrogen atoms with two neutrons, an isotope of hydrogen called Tritium, found rarely on earth before the twentieth century, but common in the upper atmosphere. On earth, tritium finds oxygen and binds to create tritiated water.

How radioactive am I compared to my ancestors who lived before the nineteenth century?

Related posts:

LTR-13-0077 – Clyde Stagner Ltr. re: Concerns regarding tritium in …

https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1303/ML13030A330.pdf

Jan 29, 2013 – Clyde Stagner … Subject: Tritium in Phoenix & People of Phoenix … an AMERSHAM PLANT in Cardiff, Wales (Ref: Figure 3,”Hidden Tritium“.

Majia’s Blog: Tritium in Swimming Pools

majiasblog.blogspot.com/2012/05/tritium-in-swimming-pools.html

May 13, 2012 – Stagner has calculated the probable concentration of tritium in swimming … Clyde Stagner’s book, Hidden Tritium, can be found at Amazon.com.

Majia’s Blog: Tritium and Nuclear Power Plants: “Blowdown” Worsens …

majiasblog.blogspot.com/2013/01/tritium-and-nuclear-power-plants.html

Jan 22, 2013 – My friend Clyde Stagner studied tritium emissions and … Stagner is author of Hidden Tritium and has had a long, distinguished career, .

Majia’s Blog: Encanto Park and Radioactive Tritium

majiasblog.blogspot.com/2012/08/encanto-park-and-radioactive-tritium.html

Aug 14, 2012 – Capt Stagner is petitioning the NRC to resume tritium monitoring in …. Clyde Stagner’s book, Hidden Tritium, can be found at Amazon.com.

Majia’s Blog: Tritium Contaminating Our Environment: A Letter …

majiasblog.blogspot.com/2012/07/tritium-contaminating-our-environment.html

Jul 17, 2012 – Monitoring of tritium in the area stopped after 2010 despite rising levels …. Clyde Stagner’s book, Hidden Tritium, can be found at Amazon.com.

Related article:

Impact of low doses of tritium on the marine mussel, Mytilus edulis: genotoxic effects and tissue-specific bioconcentration.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16039156

Source :

http://majiasblog.blogspot.fr/2017/08/tritium-at-fukushima-primer.html

 

 

Tepco chairman’s remark on water release goes radioactive

Comment draws ire from Fukushima residents, fishermen and watchdog

0721N_TEPCO_article_main_imageTakashi Kawamura, a former Hitachi chairman, took up his current post just last month.

 

TOKYO — Comments by Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings’ chairman about releasing nuclear wastewater into the ocean are being met with anger from fisheries groups and many others.

Tepco Chairman Takashi Kawamura told news outlets earlier this month that the utility “has made its decision” on the release of tritiated water from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant to the ocean. Tritiated water is a radioactive form where the usual “light” hydrogen atoms are replaced with tritium.

Kyodo News reported the following day that the company shares the view of Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, that spilling the water into the sea would not cause any problem, scientifically speaking.

Tepco immediately released a statement saying Kawamura’s comments “did not intend to announce the concluded policy of the company on the matter.”

Nonetheless, the national cooperative of fishermen has protested. And rather unexpectedly, Tanaka criticized Kawamura for using his name to promote the company’s agenda. This is a worrying development for Tepco, since increased mistrust by the NRA could affect the utility’s medium- to long-term strategies, including restarting nuclear power plants.

Tritiated water is also released from normally functioning nuclear power plants. In Japan, water meeting official standards can be dumped into the sea.

But local residents have protested the idea, out of concern that rumors and misunderstandings could damage their community. At the Industry Ministry, a special committee has been considering the matter. Kawamura’s remarks were seen as getting ahead of that process, hence the backlash.

The wastewater in question still sits inside a number of storage tanks at the Fukushima power plant, with nowhere to go. Tepco and the government want to find a solution quickly, but the latest controversy shows that skipping careful and thoughtful communication with various stakeholders could end up costing them more time.

http://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Tepco-chairman-s-remark-on-water-release-goes-radioactive

New TEPCO executives tripping over their tongues

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TEPCO Chairman Takashi Kawamura, right, receives a formal letter of complaint from an executive member of JF Zengyoren, a nation-wide federation of fishery associations, over his comment about dumping contaminated water to the sea on July 19 in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward.
Hoping to restore trust in embattled Tokyo Electric Power Co., the company’s new chairman and president have instead generated unwanted criticism and hostility in their first gaffe-filled month on the job.
They have added to the problems facing the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which also is hoping to bring its idled reactors back online.
On July 19, TEPCO Chairman Takashi Kawamura, who is also honorary chairman of Hitachi Ltd., was apologizing at the headquarters of JF Zengyoren, a nationwide federation of fishery associations, in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward. He was forced to explain “the true intention” of remarks he made last week regarding the release of diluted radiation-contaminated water into the sea.
On July 12, during a collective media interview session, Kawamura said “the decision has been made” to do so.
On the Fukushima plant premises, nearly 780,000 tons of water used to cool the reactors are stored, which had been decontaminated of radioactive cesium and plutonium but not tritium. Legally, the tritium-tainted water can be released into the sea, if diluted enough so the concentration of tritium is below a set standard.
However, as the release would add further adversity to the struggling fishing industry in Fukushima and neighboring prefectures, the central government has not made any clear decision on what to do with it.
Kawamura, however, also said, “I am on the same line as the opinion of chair Shunichi Tanaka (of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority) that it is scientifically safe (to discharge water into the sea).”
On July 14, disaster reconstruction minister Masayoshi Yoshino expressed concerns that releasing the water now would “definitely affect public sentiment” over catches from Fukushima Prefecture, where full-scale fishing had been stalled.
At the July 19 meeting with the fishery federation, Kawamura retracted his comment, saying, “As a company or personally, no decision has ever been made whether to release contaminated water to the sea. The true intention of my comments were not properly understood by some media agency.” The TEPCO chairman apologized to Hiroshi Kishi, chairman of the federation, and others at the meeting.
Kishi, in return, submitted a letter of protest stating that they “strongly demand not to release radiation-contaminated water to the sea” and it is “unacceptable to the fishery industry and other Japanese people.”
On the same day, Kawamura admitted to the media what he said a week earlier, explaining that he meant “it cannot be independently decided by TEPCO.”
On July 19, in another part of Tokyo, NRA Chairman Tanaka told the media at a regular news conference that he is “boiling with anger” with Kawamura for including him in his comment. He also said Kawamura’s remark symbolizes his reluctance to face Fukushima residents.
“He used me as an excuse,” said Tanaka, who has suggested releasing water before the storage of contaminated water on the site reaches full capacity. “I have told him he needs to confront Fukushima issues as the first party to resolve them even if he faces a backlash. Despite that, he is still looking for an escape.”
On July 10, Kawamura and TEPCO President Tomoaki Kobayakawa attended a meeting with NRA members, including Tanaka, in Tokyo.
There, Kawamura said, “TEPCO has a responsibility to show that it can operate a nuclear power plant,” and he was warned by an NRA member for being “overly forward-looking.” Currently, none of TEPCO’s nuclear power plants are on-line.
On June 27, Kobayakawa also landed in hot water after referring to the town of Futaba, which co-hosts the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, as “where the evacuation order is partially lifted” in a comment to a group of reporters. However, the town has been in a “difficult-to-return zone” since the accident, and no residents are allowed to return to their homes.
At a regular news conference on July 18, a disgruntled Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori said, “I would like TEPCO to fulfill its responsibility as the operator that caused a severe accident.”

Tepco ‘s response to the article about the release of tritiated water into the ocean

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A certain article reported today, “TEPCO decided to release tritiated water into the ocean” quoting the comment of TEPCO’s chairman Mr. Kawamura about the release of tritiated water into the ocean. The comment intended to say that TEPCO shares the same recognition with Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Dr. Tanaka, et al. that in accordance with the current regulation and standard based on scientific and technical ground, there should not be an impact of releasing tritiated water into the ocean. The comment did not intend to announce the concluded policy of the company on the matter.

We need to give our full attention to the satisfaction of both peace of mind of local residents and reconstruction of Fukushima, as well as the safety requirement to meet regulation and standard for the final decision. We will carefully examine our policy on the matter with the government and local stakeholders from such a perspective.

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/announcements/2017/1444608_10494.html

Will Tepco Dump 770,000 tons of Tritiated Water Into the Pacific Ocean???

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Massive amounts of radiation-contaminated water that has been processed and stored in hundreds of tanks at the plant are hindering decommissioning work and pose a safety risk in case another massive quake or tsunami strikes.

“TEPCO needs to release the water — which contains radioactive tritium that is not removable but considered not harmful in small amounts — into the Pacific Ocean”, de lared Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s new Chairman Takashi Kawamura during an interview at the TEPCO headquarters in Tokyo on Thursday, July 13, 2017.

The method is favored by experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency and Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority as the only realistic option. Earlier, TEPCO had balked at calls by NRA chairman Shunichi Tanaka for controlled release of the water, now exceeding 770,000 metric tons, into the sea, fearing a public backlash.

Tepco’s intention to release more than 770,000 metric tons of tritiated water into the sea was relayed by many media, the Japan Times adding to  the volume number of  770,000 metric tons, that it was contained in 580 tanks. The volume number is right, to be precise it concerns 777,647 metric tons of tritiated water, but the 580 tanks number is wrong.

Knowing that those tanks have a capacity of 1000 metric tons each, 777,647 metric tons can only be stored in 780 tanks and not in 580 tanks only.

Of course in that 777,647 metric tons, are not included the other 202,565 metric tons of  only partially decontaminated water, in which Cesium and Strontium are been already filtered out but the other 62 radionuclides have not been yet filtered by the Multi-nuclides Removal System (ALPS). Those 202,565 metric tons stored in some additional 202 tanks more in the Storing Tank Area.

Bringing the total of contaminated water, Cesium/Strontium partially decontaminated water plus the 62 radionuclides decontaminated water (Tritiated water) to a total of 980,212 metric tons stored in 980 tanks.

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Of course it is not question to release the partially decontaminated water (202,565 metric tons) into the sea, only the fully decontaminated water (all radionuclides removed to the exception of tritium), the tritiated water, the 777,647 metric tons.

On the Tepco Press Release on Jul 10,2017, Tepco indicates quite clearly the actual volume of the 2 types of water stored in those tanks. Knowing that all those tanks have a capacity of 1000 metric tons each, the maths are easy.

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Some media along the way, I suspect the Japan Times AGAIN, added the 580 tanks number into its article, maybe a typo from 5 to 7, then the error was copied on and on by the other media.

It is sad to see professionnal media not capable to get their numbers right.

Since that July 13, 2017 declaration from Tepco’s new chairman, Tepco is now backpedaling, saying that they have not yet reached that decision, fearing a public backlash and the ire of the local fishermen.

The radioactive half-life of Tritium is 12,3 years, its radioactive full life is 123 years to 184,5 years. Once inside the body, tritium can lead to internal exposure. Its biological half-life of 10 days, full life 100 to 150 days.

Tepco Press Release July 10, 2017 Nuclear Power Station (310th Release) Nuclear Power Station (310th Release): http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu17_e/images/170710e0201.pdf