Alert: Typhoons cause failure of ‘ice wall’ around Fukushima reactors — Highly radioactive water flowing into ocean — Structure “critically affected” — Fears over multiple sections of barrier that have thawed — Expert: “The plan to block groundwater is failing” (VIDEO)


Alert: Typhoons cause failure of ‘ice wall’ around Fukushima reactors — Highly radioactive water flowing into ocean — Structure “critically affected” — Fears over multiple sections of barrier that have thawed — Expert: “The plan to block groundwater is failing” (VIDEO)

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Published: September 6th, 2016 at 12:51 pm ET

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Asahi Shimbun, Sep 2, 2016 (emphasis added): Typhoons cause ‘ice wall’ to melt at Fukushima nuclear plant — Rainfall from recent typhoons caused partial melting of the “ice wall” at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, allowing highly radioactive water to leak from around the damaged reactor buildings… [TEPCO] said melting occurred at two sections of the ice wall… TEPCO officials believe that during the latest typhoon, contaminated water from around the reactor buildings flowed through openings of the ice wall created by the deluge and reached downstream toward the sea… “If there had been an additional 15 cm of rain, (the contaminated water) could have poured out over the ground surface” and spilled into the sea, a TEPCO official said… The Meteorological Agency’s initial forecast said Typhoon No. 10 would bring a maximum 20 cm of rain a day at some locations in the Tohoku region… TEPCO admitted the underground wall of frozen dirt is not working. The company said the temperatures at the two sections of the frozen wall have climbed above zero since Typhoon No. 7 approached Fukushima Prefecture on Aug. 17. The company believes that the partial melting was caused by the influx of water brought by the typhoons and heavy rain in between.

NHK, Sep 1, 2016: Temperatures rose in parts of reactor ice wall — The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says due to recent heavy rain temperatures rose above zero degrees Celsius in some parts of an underground ice wall…

NHK, Sep 2, 2016: [TEPCO] says a series of storms have been dumping heavy rain in and around the plant since mid-August, pushing up temperatures in some sections of the ice wall. The utility says wall temperatures to the south of the No.4 reactor rose from minus 5 degrees to plus 1.8 degrees at the highest through Thursday. It adds wall temperatures to the east of the No.3 reactor also went up from minus 1.5 degrees to plus 1.4 degrees. Temperatures in these sections had been higher than others parts of the wall even before the storms. It’s feared that some ice in the sections may have melted as the rain increased groundwater flows.

Xinhua, Sep 2, 2016: “Ice wall” around Fukushima nuclear plant melts in 2 places following powerful typhoons — The frozen soil wall built around the crippled Fukushima No.1 nuclear plant have melted in two places following recent powerful typhoons… raising concerns over effect of the approach adopted by [TEPCO] to reduce the massive volume of radioactive water… [It] melted in two places following Powerful [Typhoon] Lionrock, the tenth of the season, battered the region… Groundwater flowing under the nuclear plant is leaking through the melted parts of the wall to outside and TEPCO is trying to refreeze the parts by injecting special chemicals to the wall, said the reports… The project was considered failed by some outside experts at an earlier meeting called by the Nuclear Regulation Authority…

Latin America Herald Tribune, Sep 2016: [TEPCO] Detects Increase in Temperature in Ice Wall in Fukushima[T]here are fears some sections of the wall could have thawed with the increase in underground water flow… This setback increases pressure on the company, that had barely made progress in bringing down the water still within the reactor basements…

Enformable, Sep 2, 2016: [TEPCO] has announced that the “ice wall”… has been critically affected by rainfall from recent typhoons that have melted parts of the ice structure, allowing new pathways for highly contaminated water to leak from the basements of the reactor buildings… [TEPCO] has had to admit that the $335 million wall of frozen soil and water is not working as designed. TEPCO announced that contaminated water was able to escape from the reactor buildings through the gaps in the ice wall that had melted from the rainfall and likely reached the Pacific Ocean… “The plan to block groundwater with a frozen wall of earth is failing. They need to come up with another solution, even if they keep going forward with the plant,” said Yoshinori Kitsutaka, a professor of engineering at Tokyo Metropolitan University.

Asahi Shimbun, Aug 19, 2016: Panel: TEPCO’s ‘ice wall’ failing at Fukushima nuclear plant – [TEPCO’s] “frozen wall of earth” has failed to prevent groundwater from entering the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, and the utility needs a new plan to address the problem, experts said. An expert panel with the Nuclear Regulation Authority received a report from TEPCO on the current state of the project on Aug. 18. The experts said the ice wall project, almost in its fifth month, has shown little or no success. “The plan to block groundwater with a frozen wall of earth is failing,” said panel member Yoshinori Kitsutaka, a professor of engineering at Tokyo Metropolitan University… The water becomes contaminated with radioactive materials within the reactor buildings. TEPCO’s plan was to create a frozen wall of earth around the reactor buildings to divert the groundwater away from the plant and into the ocean… But the amount of groundwater pumped from the ocean side of the frozen wall has shown little change from when there was no icy earth wall… [T]he readings above freezing were in areas with high levels of groundwater concentration…

Watch a video report on the melting ice wall here

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