TV: Gov’t approves plan to ‘drain’ Fukushima nuclear waste into ocean — Professor: Monitoring necessary to detect ‘worrisome signals’ — Expert: “It’s completely unsafe… impossible to remove 100s of radioactive materials” — 1,200 radionuclides, only 62 reduced — Fisherman: “We can’t trust Tepco” (VIDEO)
Published: January 21st, 2015 at 10:43 pm ET
NHK, Jan 21, 2015 (emphasis added): Japan’s nuclear regulator has approved a plan by Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, to drain filtered wastewater from the firm’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant into the sea.
TEPCO officials plan to pump up contaminated groundwater through wells built around structures housing the plant’s damaged reactors. The firm also plans to reduce the level of radioactive material in the water before releasing it into the nearby Pacific.
On Wednesday, the Nuclear Regulation Authority approved TEPCO’s plan to install drainpipes and a pumping system and to reduce the level of radioactive cesium-137 to less than one becquerel per liter. It also agreed with the firm’s policy of starting the drainage system gradually.
The regulator asked the utility to ensure that no wastewater leaks and to fully disclose measurements for radioactive material.
Tokyo Electric said it will not drain filtered wastewater until local residents agree to the plan.
The timing of such agreement is unclear, as local fishermen are worried that rumors of tainted seawater would affect their business.
NHK Transcript, Jan 21, 2015: Japanese regulators have approved a controversial plan by [TEPCO]. They say TEPCO officials can flush filtered waste water into the ocean… Fisherman: “We can’t trust Tepco… If they proceed with their plan the situation will surely go back to how it was before. I’m worried the government and Tepco will act to suit themselves.”
Wall St Journal, Jan 21, 2015:
Japan’s nuclear regulator has officially called on [Tepco] to work toward discharging low-level contaminated water… just two days after a worker fell into [a tank] used to store contaminated water… Tepco is using a processing system [that] is unable to take out the tritium [and] is reluctant to release it into the ocean to avoid… criticism from neighboring countries and some nations with a Pacific Ocean coastline… there is no detailed study about tritium’s long-time effect on animal genes. Mamoru Takata, a Kyoto University professor and expert on radiation’s long-term effects, said monitoring would be necessary to detect any worrisome signals.
Japan’s nuclear regulator has officially called on Tokyo Electric Power Co.9501.TO +0.42% to work toward discharging low-level contaminated water into the ocean from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The call on Wednesday comes just two days after a worker fell into one of the hundreds of tanks used to store contaminated water at the plant during an inspection, a fatal accident that has refocused attention on the need for improved safety measures and a longer term solution for the huge amounts of water in storage.
“Tokyo Electric Power must consider whether it (storing the water) is really necessary,” said Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, at a regular board meeting Wednesday. “It is surely harmful if it leads to the death of workers.”
The regulator discussed Wednesday a draft timetable for action by Tepco to address risks at the plant that sets out a 2017 start for discharging the water. The draft is likely to be approved next week.
The International Atomic Energy Agency already recommended more than a year ago that Tepco consider releasing water with low level tritium contamination in a controlled way so that it could focus on other issues.
A Tepco spokesman, speaking after Mr. Tanaka’s remarks, said the company wasn’t currently considering releasing the water into the ocean.
Contaminated water has been a constant headache for the operator of the plant since the triple meltdowns in March 2011. A large amount of groundwater is flowing into the site, adding 300 to 400 tons to the amount of highly contaminated water at the plant on a daily basis.
Tepco is using a processing system to remove radioactive material from the highly contaminated water, but the system is unable to take out the tritium. Tepco has been storing the tritium-contaminated water in about 1,000 tanks, but is reluctant to release it into the ocean to avoid adding to tension with local communities and criticism from neighboring countries and some nations with a Pacific Ocean coastline.
But the power company is close to running out of space to build new tanks at the plant and workers are increasingly under pressure to juggle their other duties with the ever-increasing workload of tank management, prompting the IAEA call in late 2013.
Tritium is considered one of the least harmful radioactive materials at nuclear plants. Water contaminated with tritium is discharged from plants elsewhere in the world after dilution.
However, there is no detailed study about tritium’s long-time effect on animal genes. Mamoru Takata, a Kyoto University professor and expert on radiation’s long-term effects, said monitoring would be necessary to detect any worrisome signals.
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TEPCO: [ALPS] is designed to remove most remaining radioactive contaminants
TEPCO (pdf): (ALPS) — Removal capacity: Reduce 62 nuclides below the density limit
Asahi Shimbun in Jan. 2012: “To prevent a further contamination of the sea [Tepco] plans to remove about 1,000 kinds of radioactive materials from water”
Japan Atomic Energy Agency (pdf), Feb 2014: TOPICS Fukushima — [W]e carried out detailed calculations… for 1,200 radionuclides, and the results were incorporated into a database.
Dr. Gordon Edwards, court-certified nuclear expert, Aug 8, 2014 (50:00 in): It can’t be dumped into the ocean, because it’s completely unsafe because of these fission products. They have built over 1,000 large tanks, huge tanks… that contain this very, very radioactively contaminated water. At the moment they’re trying to filter out these fission products… It’s impossible for them to remove all those hundreds of radioactive materials. They know how to remove about 62 of them, but there’s other ones that they cannot.