Fukushima Update - What's Happening at Fukushima

by Nelle Maxey

Update #2  – May 18, 2011

Today TEPCO announced its new plan, which basically is to recirculate used cooling water for further cooling of the reactors.
Tepco is "optimistically" keeping the same timelines for complete cold shutdown by January 2012. (One blogger comments maybe they mean January 2013. I concur.)

Flaws in the new plan

The timeline remains the same regardless of the fact that all their 'new' plans involve getting the workers onto the sites which they can't currently do. Here is an article that points out this flaw in the plan:

 

Tepco Rethinking Plan For Cooling Reactors

TOKYO (Nikkei)–In light of indications that damage to the No. 1 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is worse than expected, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) is expected to take a fresh approach to cooling down the fuel rods by installing equipment to circulate water that has been pumped inside.

The utility is scheduled to release on Tuesday a revised road map for bringing the reactors damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami under control.

The amount of water being pumped in has already been increased to 10 tons per hour. But the water that leaks out and builds up inside the reactor building is a concern.

"Heat exchangers and equipment for removing radioactive substances are necessary for pumping in and circulating water," said Takashi Sawada, vice president of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan. "Unless there is removal (of radioactive substances), the contamination will spread and the ensuing work will become impossible to perform."

If the fuel rods have breached the pressure vessel and reached the bottom of the containment vessel, installing the equipment will become more difficult. Bringing the situation under control could take longer than the initially envisioned six to nine months.

Some have suggested pinpointing areas of the containment vessel that have sustained damage and making repairs with cement or other materials, but the radiation is so strong that workers cannot get close. Another proposal calls for circulating the contaminated water that has gathered in the basement, but this is also not possible because workers cannot enter the area.

http://e.nikkei.com/e/fr/tnks/Nni20110516D16JFA22.htm

The second flaw is the sheer amount of technology development that is required to pull off this water re-circulation plan.
The "plan" includes:

• new heat exchange systems installed for the reactors 1,2, & 3 and spent fuel pools at 1, 3, and 4 to cool the recirculated water

• this is after they develop and install water filtering systems to reduce the high level of radioactivity in the water to lower levels so it can be re-circulated

• set up a facility to "deal with" the contaminated water so far accumulated (I presume this is the Areva facility reported on previously as a failure in Europe).

• Build make-shift sea walls for further tsunami protection

• fabrication and installation of the cover for No.1 reported earlier in the week

• plans to store contaminated water on the just arrived barge (see 2nd NHK story below.)

• plans "to consider" work to block radioactive materials from contaminating groundwater

(This item seems to me to be a tacit acknowledgment that groundwater contamination IS occurring.)

• and, once again, better conditions for the workers (many of whom are now walking dead men, I fear.)

This is all happening against a backdrop of a devastated Japan with much of its manufacturing industry shut down or operating intermittantly due to reduced electrical supply. Perhaps we will find that more off-shore companies like Areva and GE already) will be making beau-coup bucks in this new plan?

TEPCO revises plan to stabilize reactors
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/17_34.html

How about the huge problem with TEPCO debt as reported much in the financial press?

http://www.zerohedge.com/article/tepco-91-billion-debt-got-cds

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/cost-to-insure-japans-tepco-debt-rises-sixfold-2011-03-14

http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20110517-703173.html

Where exactly will they get the money to implement this plan???

 

*The Watershed Sentinel is proud to share Nelle Maxey’s Fukushima Updates prepared for the BC environmental community.

Every day, Nelle pours over the media and other reports of the status of the reactors at Fukushima, comparing figures and trying to make sense out of the conflicting reports.

 

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