So this didn't work, either. And now experts says it could take as long as a year to get the Fukushima nuclear reactor under control:
Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s attempt to clog a cracked pit with a mixture of sawdust, newspaper and plastic failed to stop radioactive water leaking into the sea from its crippled nuclear plant.
The absorbent material, including the same polymer used in baby diapers, was injected into a power-cable storage pit at the plant where radiation-contaminated water is escaping through a crack, the power utility said yesterday.
The company is injecting a tracer dye to try to gain more information about where and how fast the water is flowing before continuing efforts to halt it, a spokesman said at a Tokyo press conference. The leak may not pose a severe threat to the public or wildlife, said Kathryn Higley, department head and professor of nuclear engineering and radiation health physics at Oregon State University.
“You’re likely to have a footprint in the soil and the sands and sediments as that material leaks out, but the impact is likely to be pretty minimal,” Higley said yesterday in a telephone interview. “Even if it does get out into that marine environment, that area around there has been pretty badly torn up, so there’s not a lot of life to be impacting.”
Tokyo Electric has been working to stop radiation leaks since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out the plant’s cooling systems, resulting in a partial meltdown of some of its reactors.
[...] Tokyo Electric, also called Tepco, said it overestimated the absorption power of the polymer products it used. It believed the material would absorb 1,000 times its volume in water, Tepco said yesterday in a press conference webcast over the Internet. Instead, the rate was 20 times the volume, the company said.
Tepco needs to understand the water’s flow rate so that it can determine how to use the absorbent material successfully, said Akira Tokuhiro, professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering at the University of Idaho.