Economic Multipliers (31)

Do you know what these are?

They help CREATE wealth in systems.

Understanding how water flows is an economic multiplier for you, your community and your nation.


As a continuation for those of you who live in countries with nuclear power, I am including some rather lengthy text I sent to a Japanese corporation. If you ever think that you might have to respond to an emergency in your community and you DO NOT KNOW what it would mean to create a groundwater and surface water ‘island’ … an area where contaminated water could be contained until it could be properly dealt with … this text is worth reading. When you DON’T have a problem, you want to ask:

  • where does surface water flow?

  • do we need a slurry wall?

  • do we need extra wells?

  • do we need any battery backup?

  • can we run wire for emergency systems in ways where we minimize ‘disconnections?’

  • what kinds and how many pumps would we need to deal with surface water and groundwater issues?

  • if we need to run cooling equipment and/or heating equipment, how do we quickly contact the individuals who have those skills (and that equipment)?

  • what do we do if we have a LOT of contaminated water that we can’t (or shouldn’t) move off site?

  • how can we protect workers from contaminated water (particularly if a disaster occurs in the midst of a rainstorm)?

  • etc.

When you decide on funding for systems or you think about what you want your students to know, this text is ‘food for thought.'


'Groundwater and surface water flow from 'high' to 'low' (and what's going on underground in terms of direction of flow is not necessarily the same thing that's happening on the surface).

I'm assuming that ALL of the hydrogeologists and hydrologists (engineers, field personnel (these guys many times know more than the engineers when it comes to practical stuff) and students) and well drillers who are not working on national security related projects or shoring up the economy and infrastructure directly are taking the time to review and come up with ideas for taking care of the most immediate contaminant transport problems.

The EASIEST and most immediate idea that I can come up with is this (know that once you start this process, you MUST have covered ALL the bases related to health and safety (you don't want anyone coming in contact with the water) and you need to make absolutely sure that ALL of the equipment is hooked up properly (the reason you'd want 'field personnel' to review and rereview everything BEFORE you started anything up):

    • Identify the approximate groundwater gradients on site (underneath and around the plant) and say to yourself: I want to create an 'island' ... the smallest possible ... whereby all groundwater flows toward the plant.

    • In order to do that, you must install wells and pump water out (observation wells may already exist on site ... if they do and the groundwater flow is not substantial and the gradients are not steep, the spacing and well casing size MIGHT (not likely) be sufficient whereby you could install small pumps in each to create the necessary gradients.

    • You want to pump the ABSOLUTE MINIMUM out which means that you HAVE to have a good handle on the gradients.

    • You'll want refrigeration equipment on site because you want to use this water as extra cooling water. ANY electricity you use for cooling will seem expensive on the first cut BUT factored against radioactive contamination of water supplies, the cost is nothing. You don't have to cool the water down a LOT ... just enough that it acts as a coolant for your processes.

    • I'll assume that you won't have enough observation wells onsite ... which means that you'll need drillers ... these guys are used to pulling large volumes of water and 'developing' the wells for maximum gain. You'll need 'good contact' with the surrounding water level but because more small wells pulling lesser amounts of water is more practical (remember, your goal is to get the 'gradients' under control so water does not migrate AWAY from the site but you don't want to have to process or store any unnecessary water), you'll need to get some of your best drillers working with your best hydrogeologists and engineers.

Water storage will be an issue but if you can establish good perimeter gradient control, you might be able to (FOR ONLY A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME until things are under control) reinject some of the water at the 'center' of your groundwater island with the expectation that it will cycle through your perimeter wells again (not all of it though because water comes into a well radially and you'll have too much) ... Technically the preference (and your LONGTERM goal would be to draw down water from the center of your 'island' and CONTROL all the water from the center ... but you might end up with too much water if you use only one central well ... groundwater flow when you're trying to 'control' the gradients at a site is a delicate balancing act. And imagine that if it were possible to establish a slurry wall around the site, effectively you'd be trying to establish the equivalent of a bathtub whereby you were always taking just enough out so that the water level was just the slightest bit lower than the water levels all around it.

You're going to want to see if you can set up some sort of evaporation system for radiated water (or perimeter water and centrally collected surface and groundwater) whereby you either run the water through some sort of lead (or other) filtration system first or the steam through some sort of filtration system first. Get your physicists, statisticians and cooling tower personnel working on the probabilities related to radioactive bombardment and what materials might pick up what and for how long (assume there is some sort of saturation point ... and know that cooling tower personnel probably know the most about surface contact issues when it comes to steam ... but A LOT of people in a LOT of other industries might have better ideas on the best ways to set up the filters ... send out feelers related to expertise).

To my knowledge, Japan has some of the best earthquake design engineers. Find out what kind of 'base' you'd have to put a solar array on whereby it could withstand an earthquake and see if the batteries available for hybrid cars (or other batteries) might be suitable to hook to a solar array. (Your earthquake engineers might say that an array that gets good but not optimal solar gain makes more sense). And imagine that if you coiled wire in a tube like a spring, if the earth started shaking, your connections might hold and anticipate that you'd want at least 2 days worth of onsite power to run emergency equipment. Since you're not in the midst of an earthquake now, you could use this power to run the groundwater pump/filtration system.

I'm sure you know that an electric water heater is a resistance unit and these types of units can be used to help evaporate water and/or create steam. It might seem strange to 'cobble together' small systems temporarily but you've got a whole country of technicians who know how to do all the household and small industrial 'stuff.' They might be able to get a lot more done in the short-term if they know the specific needs. Just keep in mind, everything you use becomes part of your waste stream ... which means that you want to maximize the 'work done' by these systems while minimizing the use.

Unfortunately, there's a lot of data for Chernobyl ... you'll want your historians poring through all the available data and even contacting Russia related to how they can help sort through the myriad of problems related to land contamination. They should also be able to give you an idea as to what areas you'll have to consider 'hot' and for how long and what migration issues they might have noticed (such as airborne soil transport).

Try to set up some sort of 'collection' system that makes sense ... like Wikipedia ... whereby if someone goes to a site, they can see what answers you still do not have and as those answers become available, have someone that's reviewing the best of the best and posting the updated information. Some of the filtration information will be proprietary ... there's nothing you can do about that ... but if you've got some academic physicists and statisticians that are willing to tackle the bombardment and probability issues, I believe you'll be able to get something 'workable' together that will help minimize longterm problems. And if you post probabilities against probabilities related to radioactive contamination and other risks people take, your citizens will still be totally stressed out but at least then, they'll be able to make their own educated choices.

… get a 'groundwater and surface water' island established …'


That is the end of the text and text is ‘easy’ to write. For something as ‘simple’ as a slurry wall (2 simple words), you need to understand geology, soil conditions, surface water and groundwater flow, whether any contaminants or properties of the water would render the slurry ‘inactive’ (meaning it would not act as a water barrier but ‘leak’), whether ‘contaminants’ (such as radiation) could cross the barrier even if water couldn’t, etc.

The bottom line is that although you’d want to know the answers related to how to respond if you had a major problem, what you really want to do is make sure that you’ve done everything possible to prevent any problems in the first place.


Problem prevention is the largest economic multiplier that any individual, community or nation will ever have.