Nur mit Bolzen genietet und nicht geschweißt

“Only riveted together and not welded,” reporter Johannes Hano’s description of many of the ~1000 containers in the leaky tank farm behind the “nuclear ruin” of Fukushima out of which tons of radioactive water have been seeping every day. On 01 Sep 2013 the Guardian.co.uk reported remeasuring had found the water in at least one of these tanks was radioactive enough to kill you within four hours. Also, employees helping clean up the mess for the past two and a half years have not been equipped with dosimetric gear showing them this danger.

A local fisherman based 40 kilometers south of the plant said, “We were just getting ready to steam out when suddenly the news was announced that the ocean had been poisoned with radioactivity, again. First they tried to verarsch us about it. They said only 120 liters had leaked out! Then suddenly it was 300,000 liters. I want to puke.”

On 02 Sep 2013 Tepco was forced to admit they’ve been actively piping some radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean rather than capturing all of it and passively letting some leak out into the sea (or capturing all of it and storing it securely, which is what they were claiming to do). They don’t have enough holding capacity for the site’s contaminated water.

Spiegel.de reported Tepco has been producing ~400 tons of new radioactive water daily that’s pumped each day through the still-seething three reactors that experienced partial meltdowns. A lot of that water just flows down through the buildings, becoming contaminated with cesium, strontium and tritium. They reuse some of it after running it through “ion exchangers” that remove some cesium, but still an extra 400 new tons of water are contaminated each day that way. There’s also an “underground river” flowing beneath the plant from the inland mountains to the sea, exposing about a thousand new metric tons of groundwater to radiation each day. Tepco wants to artificially freeze the earth around the plant into an underground ice wall but doubts have been expressed about that plan, especially after one rat was said to have caused a power outage at Fukushima Daiichi this summer.

As we searched the media for relevant science information immediately after the tsunami and explosions at Fukushima Daiichi, the Rachel Maddow Show’s reporting seemed relatively good in the first fortnight after the disaster. TRMS interviewees said the partial meltdowns at the reactor cores could create a caustic and radioactive chemical brew that could eat through the reactor and building floors and on down into the ground an unknown distance, pulled by gravity and presumably whatever more easily dissolved or traversed materials the soup encounters.

(Noor   mitt   BOLTS en   gen EE tet   oont   nichh t   gesh VICE t.)

Asse

According to Wikipedia, Asse, a.k.a. “Asse 2” because of an original Asse shaft dug there in 1906, is an old salt mine in Lower Saxony that was turned into a West German research mine in 1965 and also used as a permanent storage site for nuclear waste between 1967 and 1978. Politicians assured the public the mine’s known water problem could be reliably stopped forever, and lawsuits to prevent the project failed in court.

Low-level radioactive waste with particularly long-lived isotopes and medium-level radioactive waste with short-lived isotopes was stored there, in metal drums that were supposed to be used as transport, not permanent, containers. In the first phase of the experiment, the drums were stacked on one another. In the second phase the drums were stacked horizontally, like a woodpile. In the third phase, drums were dumped off an underground cliff and then rock salt debris was dumped on them. It is now known that metal drums last only a few years to decades when exposed to salt water, and these metal drums may have been further damaged by how they were placed into storage. Hydrogen is possibly forming.

No fees were collected for nuclear waste delivered between 1967 and 1975. In 1975 the law changed—“permanent storage” was not defined in German law until 1976, for example—after which Asse collected a total of about 900,000 euros in fees until the research program on permanent nuclear waste disposal ended in 1995. Asse’s remaining open caverns were carefully filled in with trainloads of rock between 1995 and 2004.

In 2008 it became known that Asse 2 was in danger of collapse due to water seepage and cracking, not surprising due to its history and the fact that its salt ceilings have been deforming by up to 15 cm/year for many years now. A state investigation was started and found, among other things, that radioactive salt water was first detected in the mine in 1995. Two billion euros are now budgeted for the cleanup, though experts estimate the cost will be closer to six billion. The site’s recent budgets exceeded 100 million euros/year, used for maintenance and public relations, reported ZDF heute journal, which broadcast disturbing photos of the damage in this report from 05 Oct. 2012. ZDF says the plan is to drill a new tunnel and remove the nuclear waste through it, though that might not be possible. It has been estimated the ceiling rock will start to fail in early 2014, and that cleanup can’t be started before 2036.

Update on 04 Mar 2014: New environmental minister Barbara Hendricks visited Asse for the first time. About twelve thousand liters of water are seeping into the nuclear waste storage site there each day, said ARD tagesschau.de, which is why the Bundestag voted one year ago to move Asse’s nuclear waste as quickly as possible, to protect local groundwater from radioactive contamination. During her hard-hatted and overalled inspection of the underground chambers, Minister Hendricks said she didn’t think the work could be easily speeded up because more than <120 people cannot be in the old salt mine at a time for safety and technical reasons. Local people are demanding that a second shaft be built immediately, to finish the cleanup before the old tunnels collapse.

(OSS eh.)

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