Yomiuri: Tunnels under Fukushima plant suspected to be damaged from quake — Allows radioactive water to ‘move’ into ground — Still holding over 15,000 tons — Contamination continues flowing in from turbine buildings — Tepco “couldn’t afford to work on tunnels”

Saturday, August 3, 2013
By Paul Martin

August 3rd, 2013

Title: TEPCO’s N-plant delays cause for worry
Source: Yomiuri Shimbun
Author: Takashi Ito and Takashi Maemura
Date: July 31, 2013

[…] On the sea side of Nos. 1 to 4 reactors, there are two types of tunnels […] and more than 15,000 tons of contaminated water remains there.

Two years ago, the company did not conduct any work at locations other than the exit of test wells to prevent water leakage. It even failed to make any effort to remove the water from the tunnels at that time.

A source close to the matter said, “As problems occurred one after another at that time, [the company] couldn’t afford to work on the tunnels.”

As tunnels for electric cables are less resistant to earthquakes than reactors and other key equipment at the plant, they may have been damaged by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. The bottom of the tunnels is lined with gravel, and leaked contaminated water may have moved to other spots where groundwater is located.

Some tunnels are connected to turbine buildings where huge amounts of radioactive water are concentrated. TEPCO plans to launch work to drain the tainted water but is likely to face many challenges, including how to close the connections to the turbine buildings. […]

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