Official: Tepco Plan Could Cause Fukushima Reactor Buildings to “Topple”

Japan’s Nuclear Accident Response Director Warns that Tepco’s Actions Might Cause Reactor Buildings to Collapse

Tepco’s ill-considered efforts to change soil permeability and water flow have caused severe problems at the site … including highly radioactive groundwater bubbling up to the surface.

NHK notes:

The vice governor of Fukushima Prefecture has asked the government to take the lead in handling the matter and stop the leakage. Masao Uchibori told an official from the Nuclear Regulation Authority that some of Tepco’s measures have increased the risk of further leaks.

The Wall Street Journal’s Michael Arnold says:

Obviously this is a massive public health issue … if it gets into the ocean obviously this could be spread throughout the Pacific, could also get into the food supply.

Background here and here.

But there is another – stunning – threat.

Specifically, BBC points out:

Engineers are now facing a new emergency. The Fukushima plant sits smack in the middle of an underground aquifer. Deep beneath the ground, the site is rapidly being overwhelmed by water.

What happens when you pour hundreds of thousands of tons of water (400 metric tons each day times 2.5 years times 365 days in a year equals 365,000 metric tons of water)  onto soil which sits above a massive aquifer?

We noted last year:

The spent fuel pool at Fukushima Unit 4 is the top short-term threat to humanity, and is a national security issue for America.

As such, it is disturbing news that the ground beneath unit 4 is sinking.

Specifically, Unit 4 sunk 36 inches right after the earthquake, and has sunk another 30 inches since then.

Moreover, Unit 4 is sinking unevenly, and the building may begin tilting.

The Wall Street Journal reports today:

As [Tepco] prepares this week to start work on a new set of measures that would ring off and cap the area where the most highly contaminated water has been found, some experts and regulators are saying that the battle to completely contain radioactivity to the site of one of the world’s worst nuclear accidents may be a losing one.


It’s preparing to extend the underground hardened-earth barrier in a ring around the most heavily contaminated section of coastline, in hopes of heading groundwater off before it can flood in. Tepco is also proposing to cap that ringed section with gravel and asphalt, so nothing gets out. The operator is hoping to get an initial ring of hardened ground done by October.


But there’s a risk to changing the flow of groundwater in the ways that Tepco is considering, said Tatsuya Shinkawa, nuclear accident response director of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, at a news conference last month. The water could pool dangerously underground, softening the earth and potentially toppling the reactor buildings, he said.

No wonder even top Japanese government officials are calling for Tepco to be fired …


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  • Tonto

    “The spent fuel pool at Fukushima Unit 4 is the top short-term threat to humanity, and is a national security issue for America.”

    Somehow, I think a blind spot has infected the discussion about what to do about Fukushima. Writers everywhere are mistakenly making the assumption that Chernobyl had a resolution that was affected. And that Fukushima is merely another Chernobyl begging a solution. None of these assumptions reflect reality. There is nothing that can be done about Chernobyl or Fukushima that will bring these problems to some final resolution. The problem of Fukushima and Chernobyl and all the other nuclear disasters on our planet like Fallujah… These are all quite permanent.

    This is not like locusts eating crops. This is not like a great flood or a missing a summer due to some volcanic blast thousands of miles away. This is not even like the invading hordes of an army on the march killing everything and everyone in its path. We are looking at a trend in all these ongoing nuclear atrocities that is going to lead to something like an extinction event. We may already be at the tipping point. The world while infinitely complex, in terms of human habitability, it is also quite finite.

    And the problem is not nuclear technology alone. There are scores of new sciences threatening the habitability of planet earth. Each of these is creating an urgent need for a threshold change in the way science is viewed by humanity. Science has been the ultimate scourge. Scientists, it has turned out, are acting like career criminals. Every scientist today continues to gamble that they can pull-off one more stunt that will insure their fame and fortune. The wager of all these bets made by scientists is the habitability of the planet.

    Doubt it?

    Then consider all the harebrained ideas floated about by the holier-than-thou environmental scientists that think they can save the earth from some clearly imaginary human-caused global warming. They want to put billions of metal plates into orbit to shield the earth from the sun. They want to dump billions of tons of iron filings into the oceans to spur life that will in turn suck the CO2 out of the atmosphere. The list is very long concerning the idiocy of tinkerers trying to make themselves into a scientific messiah with their roll of the dice trying to perfect a solution to a problem they generally have no possibility of comprehending in all its complexity.

    Any attempted scientific solution for Fukushima is gong to end like allowing a third grader to perform emergency surgery on one of his classmates that has a brain tumor the size of a golf ball. Most likely, and solution attempted will only make matters worse.

    Reality is infinitely complex. There is no solution to Chernobyl or Fukushima. These are mistakes we all we are going to live with, or die with, regardless. If human caused global warming were real, it too would be a problem that has no solution. The carbon tax will do nothing to reduce CO2, even were it the threat so many kooks have made it out to be.

    The real problem is that science has created all these problems for which scientists want a license to continue to tinker with the earth in an effort NOT to give us some solutions. These scientists know what the solution is. Scientists are clever enough to see -it is the science of humanity- that is creating all these insurmountable problems that threaten the habitability of the planet.

    Scientists seek their licenses from humanity only in the hope they can play god for just a little while longer, hoping to recreate their own image into that of a scientific god.

    • anti_republocrat

      First, you are confusing science with technology.

      Second, you are suggesting that no effort be made to contain further damage brought by Fukushima. I agree it may ultimately be impossible to contain this monstrosity for the 250,000 years it would take for all the radioactivity to decay, and that all nuclear power generation needs to be shut down NOW. On the other hand, the very worst immediate effects can and should be contained. Should we disband all fire departments?

  • anthonycorvelli

    Not to mention, Chernobyl is still a barren wasteland, void of any humans. I saw a creepy video of what it looks like now. Reminded me of I Am Legend. Wildlife roaming around the streets. Everything abandoned. Foliage all overgrown. That city will probably always remain that way. Forever.