Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant Weekly Review

The Japanese government this week pledged more money to deal with water leaking from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, while Tokyo Electric Power Co. reported contamination outside additional tanks at the site.

Recent developments related to the reactors blacked out by Japan's 2011 earthquake and tsunami include:

A recent tank inspection at Fukushima Daiichi. Source: TEPCOGovernment Commits Funding

The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Tuesday that it will commit $473 million to efforts aimed at keeping contaminated groundwater at the plant from reaching the sea. Of that, the Asahi Shimbun reported about $320 million will go toward freezing a vertical wall of soil by the end of 2014 to contain the water. An additional 150 million will fund improvements to the ALPS multi-nuclide filtration system that will treat groundwater pumped from wells inside the wall.

More Tank Trouble

TEPCO found more radiation hotspots among above-ground tanks, one of which recently leaked 300 metric tons of contaminated water. On Saturday, workers on patrol detected contamination measuring 230 millisieverts per hour below a pipe connecting two tanks. Workers wrapped the pipe with an absorbent and placed a pan underneath it after seeing a drop of water fall from the pipe's insulation and discoloration on the floor. The same patrol also revealed locations on three tanks with doses between 70 millisieverts per hour and 1,800 millisieverts per hour. While that dose is extremely high, the head of Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority emphasized to news outlets that the doses near the tanks consist of beta radiation and drop by an order of magnitude within a foot or two of the contaminated areas.

On Thursday TEPCO also said it found potential evidence the earlier leak from a storage tank had reached the water table. Kyodo reported that a well dug south of the tank produced a sample with contaminants measured at 650 becquerels per liter.

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