Originally published June 1 2015
Gas buildup under Fukushima threatens hydrogen explosion, warn nuclear officials
by Jonathan Benson, staff writer
(NaturalNews) It is estimated that at least 130 storage containers holding radioactive waste at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility in Japan are now leaking, according to new reports. The result is a continuous hydrogen gas buildup that nuclear experts say could one day trigger a cascade of devastating explosions potentially unlike anything the world has ever seen.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) discovered the leaks during a recent inspection, observing that hydrogen and other gases are accumulating in the sediment at the bottoms of many of the storage tanks onsite. The buildup from this is causing contaminated water inside the tanks to expand, blowing off their lids and spilling their contents.
An official from the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), which was given the bad news during a recent study group meeting with TEPCO, reportedly told the media that this constantly accumulating gas buildup is an imminent danger and that something needs to be done to contain it.
"If the concentration level is high, a spark caused by static electricity could cause a container to explode," stated one unnamed government official about the situation, as quoted by the news source The Asahi Shimbun.
Many of Fukushima's storage containers are faulty; some are missing gas venting holes In early April, many of the containers identified as leaking radioactive waste were found to be leaking the fluid through their gas venting holes, which are supposed to prevent this very thing from occurring. It was also later discovered that some of the storage tanks weren't even properly outfitted with gas venting holes, exacerbating the problem.
According to Japan-based The Mainichi, TEPCO cleanup crews first observed that at least one storage tank at Fukushima was missing the normal venting holes for preventing gas buildup on May 22. Another 305 tanks currently in use might also be missing their proper venting holes, according to reports.
"Out of the approximately 1,400 containers, 334 -- including ones that are not being used yet -- have not yet been checked for venting holes," reports The Mainichi. "TEPCO has speculated that the work to create the holes was skipped over at a factory in the United States."
TEPCO says hydrogen explosion risk is "extremely low"; says it plans to decrease storage volumes to prevent explosions While admitting that the problem exists, TEPCO maintains that the risk of a major explosion is minimal. The utility, which has repeatedly been caught lying about the severity of nuclear waste release at the Fukushima plant, contends that it is undertaking a series of measures to address the issue and stop the overflows.
"We think the possibility of an occurrence of hydrogen explosion from these storage facilities is extremely low, since there is no fire origin, or anything that generates static electricity nearby," stated Mayumi Yoshida, a spokeswoman for TEPCO, to The Telegraph.
"For temporary measures, we have been removing the leaked water, installing absorption materials, monitoring by patrol, keeping water level [sic] inside those facilities lower than set and keeping equipment which may generate fire away."
Yoshida also told the media that TEPCO plans to prevent further leaks by decreasing the maximum storage levels for contaminated water inside each tank. This long-term approach, she claims, is an important part of the decades-long decommissioning process that will continue to take place at the plant.
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