TEPCO’s latest contaminated water leak at least partially made it to the sea. TEPCO eventually closed the drainage canals and began pumping the water out of the ditch with a pumping truck. That water is then returned to the contaminated water systems. This is of course problematic but the underlying cause it more serious.
Soon after the disaster took place TEPCO put down lines of flexible hose to move water around the plant. These flexible hoses known as “kanaflex” were found to have problems as early as the winter of 2011. Cold weather and previous sun exposure caused the deterioration and failure of many of these hoses. In previous years as these hoses failed TEPCO said they would replace them with safer more permanent hoses and pipes at the plant.
The newest leak was in a route for transferring highly contaminated water out of the unit 3 turbine building basement. Contaminated water is transferred from the unit 1 and unit 2 turbine building basements to the unit 3 turbine building basement. Then it is pumped out for treatment. This water is high in radioactive contamination so it is questionable as to why TEPCO was still using kanaflex hose for part of the transport in 2015. This set of hose that failed was installed in 2013, well after TEPCO admitted the hose was faulty. The run of hose was in a ductwork type box that would have given it some protection from the elements but the hose still failed. According to TEPCO’s newest report the failure happened at a point where the hose was bent and appears that the rubber tube ripped.
Some historical perspective on this flawed hose:
Kanaflex has been a known problem since at least 2012. This type of hose has had problems with sun exposure, cold and even weeds puncturing the tubing. In the winter of 2011 this type of hose had issues with weeds growing through the hose.
The current issue with this type of hose showed the hoses were in a sort of ductwork box that should have given some protection but they still leaked. A bend in the hose can be seen in these 2015 photos of the newest leak.
The tear in the hose near the bend is shown in this 2015 photo. This is roughly 1.5 years of use on this hose in a protected enclosure.
It is questionable why TEPCO opted to continue installing and using this type of hose with such a poor track record of performance. Even more so that they opted to use it on highly radioactive water being removed from the turbine buildings.
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