After the February 2021 earthquake at Fukushima Daiichi, workers discovered elevated levels of radiation in one of the storm water drainage canals. This was traced back to a lot up on the hill that housed contaminated waste containers. 270 containers were stored at this location. Each container was inspected for holes and moved to a new location. 38 containers were identified as suspect containers and scheduled for internal inspection. The leaks into the ground have been treated and covered to attempt to cut off further contamination downstream.
Further investigation has found new evidence of what took place.
Inspections of the storage containers found one with corrosion but no visible holes. The contents of the container included resin pipes, what was loosely translated as “nutrient sheets” but may be absorbent materials, and other random waste. Estimated radioactivity inside the container was roughly 10,000,000,000 Becquerels. TEPCO did not rule out the potential that materials leaked from this container. This was a reportable condition to Japan’s nuclear regulator.
One of the containers was found to have significant corrosion. The remaining 37 were addressed separately. These containers didn’t appear to have any holes or leak marks. 3 were empty, 1 had bagged “waste cotton”, the remaining 33 were described as having “dismantled water” via the machine translation. This could be various kinds of water management or cleaning equipment.
The container with the identified leak hole was inspected. The contents inside included a hose, a piece of rubber sheeting, and 450 bags of waste. 250 of these bags contained water absorption sheets. 80 bags had cloth or paper waste. 60 bags had “vinyls”, this may be various kinds of plastic sheeting. Ten shoes were also found in the container. Once the container was emptied, 2-3mm of standing water was found in the bottom. The bottom of the container surface was rusted but only the original corrosion location was identified.
Containers found with outside corrosion were visually inspected as depicted below.
The contents of the container after removal:
Photos below show the interior of the container after the contents were removed. Considerable corrosion and a dark liquid were found.
TEPCO documented the total number of these debris and trash containing waste containers on site:
85,469 total containers containing “gravel” (general debris) and used protective waste stored in the outdoor temporary storage area
54,319 “gravel” (combustibles: 47,032, incombustibles: 7,287)
31,150 used protection containers
TEPCO plans to visually inspect all of these containers by October of 2021. Remediation or additional isolation measures are planned as needed based on the inspections.
The reference slide below shows the various types of outdoor storage that encompass those 85,469 container.
This latest incident highlights the ongoing problems of leaks from the disaster site. Rain collection gutters, storm water management systems, contaminated water tanks and an unknown number of other existing systems at the site have been found later on to be conduits for radioactive contamination to leak to the sea. Most of the management of such leaks has been reactive, where action is only taken after it is too late.
Original document in Japanese:
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