Fukushima site becoming even less stable as crumbling buildings sink into ground around nuclear reactors

crumbling-buildings
In March 2011, a tsunami struck the coast of Japan that destroyed three nuclear reactors and severely damaged a fourth nuclear reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi site. The radioactive waste from the plant has been bleeding into the neighboring forests and Pacific Ocean for over four years. TEPCO, the company that oversees the plant, has consistently failed to contain the disaster. Hundreds of tons of water are poured into the reactors each day in an effort to keep nuclear reactors cool. Now, TEPCO has admitted that the buildings at the Fukushima site are sinking and will become more unstable with time.

TEPCO recently issued a report that highlights the depths to which the reactor turbine buildings have plummeted. The report reads that the Reactor 1 building sank by 730 mm, Reactor 2 by 725 mm, Reactor 3 by 710 mm, and Reactor 4 by 712 mm. In addition, the reference point has sunk by 709 mm. The report also admits that the company knew that the Fukushima plant has been sinking irregularly for quite some time. Nevertheless, TEPCO has yet to report the height of the turbine buildings above sea level.(1)

 The company does not know how to deal with the sinking buildings because no one knows where the nuclear waste inside the reactors is located. What is known is that the radiation levels inside the plant are too high for human exposure. Engineers have developed robots in an effort to investigate the crippled reactors. Unfortunately, at least one of the robots has prematurely quit working and been left for dead inside the reactors.

Tsunami, aftershocks and explosions

TEPCO does not know much about the situation inside the vessels, but they do know that the buildings are becoming increasingly unstable. The company therefore faces a dilemma. On the one hand, the company needs to gather more information about the situation inside the reactors in order to make an informed decision, which takes time. Since the buildings are sinking, time isn’t on TEPCO’s side. On the other hand, acting prematurely based upon limited information carries its own risks.(2)

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