TEPCO admitted last week that some subdrain pit wells at the Fukushima Daiichi plant showed a large increase in contamination. These wells were originally a system used to remove groundwater from the reactor building basements, similar to a sump pump system. After the disaster these wells were largely ignored until this year. TEPCO began sampling them and later came up with this idea to pump water out of the subdrain pits, decontaminate it and dump it in the ocean.
TEPCO already knew where unit 1 was releasing a plume of contaminated water via the turbine building. What makes this new location significant is that it is on the land side of unit 2. Groundwater flowing out to sea would be more likely to lower readings in this well than to increase them. TEPCO claimed this big radiation spike might be caused by recent rainwater inflow. This idea seems unlikely since most rainwater would be moving from outside or upstream towards this well, rather than from the reactor buildings outward.
What may be causing this is the pumping of the subdrain pits itself. By drawing out water from these wells, it could cause highly contaminated water in or under the reactor buildings to migrate towards the pumping location. TEPCO said they have not determined if they will resume the project of pumping out the subdrain pits. What this does show is that there may be other routes of contaminated water leakage from the reactors that have yet to be admitted. Unit 2’s torus room has consistently had low radiation readings by comparison. Readings in containment and a trench near the intake canal have had consistently very high radiation readings. This new finding could be another piece in that puzzle to determine how unit 2 melted down and continues to leak to the environment.
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