Frozen Wall Failures Signal Drastic Changes at Fukushima Daiichi

frozenwall_kyodoRecent meetings that included TEPCO and Japan’s NRA debated the impact of the frozen wall on groundwater levels at the disaster site. NRA claimed that groundwater found to be seeping out of the seaside area of the frozen wall indicated it isn’t sufficiently blocking contaminated groundwater.

With groundwater flows reducing in winter months this did not fully solve the groundwater intrusion problems as hoped. NRA has also insisted TEPCO keep land side sections of the frozen wall open. Now NRA is granting TEPCO the option to close those land side sections. They also requested that TEPCO double their groundwater tank storage capacity. This alone may create problems at the site. TEPCO has been gradually dismantling the old bolt together tanks to make room for safer welded tanks. They will now need to ramp up this effort and potentially find space for more tanks on an already crowded site.

TEPCO has been treating and discharging some groundwater that was found to have lower levels of contamination. With this new long term plan that is heavily dependent on groundwater pumping, expect the discharge volumes to increase.

What remains as a wildcard is the potential for future decommissioning work to influence groundwater at the plant. If activities release more contamination into the groundwater it will put a larger burden on these water handling processes.

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