eight years on, water woes threaten fukushima cleanup - absorbent
OKUMA, Japan (Reuters)-
Eight years after the Fukushima nuclear crisis, a new obstacle could disrupt large-scale cleaning.
Up: the power plant must store 1 million tons of contaminated water, which may take several years.
Last year, Tepco said a system aimed at purifying contaminated water failed to remove dangerous radioactive pollutants.
That means most of the water.
Stored in 1,000 tanks around the factory
It will need to be re-processed before releasing to the ocean, which is the most likely scenario to be disposed.
Reprocessing may take nearly two years to divert people and energy from the tsunami.
A 40-year project, a broken reactor.
It is not clear to what extent this will delay retirement.
But any delay can be expensive.
The government estimated in 2016 that the total cost of dismantling the plant, purifying the affected areas and compensating would reach 21. 5 trillion yen ($192. 5 billion)
About 20% of the country's annual budget
Tokyo Electric Power is running out of space to store processed water.
Experts say that if a major earthquake occurs again, tanks may break, release contaminated liquids and wash highly radioactive debris into the ocean.
Fishermen who strive to win consumer confidence strongly oppose the release of the processed water
Japan's nuclear regulators believe it is basically harmless (NRA)-into the ocean.
"It will destroy what we have been building for the last eight years," said Tetsu Nozaki, head of the Fukushima Prefecture Fisheries Federation.
The catch last year was only pre-15 %
Part of the reason is that consumers are reluctant to eat fish caught from Fukushima.
Visit the crashed Fukushima Dai-
Last month, the four reactor buildings at the ichi plant were equipped with huge cranes.
Workers can see it on number one.
3 The construction of the equipment prepared to remove the spent fuel rods from the storage pool, the process may begin next month.
In most areas around the factory, workers no longer need to wear masks and full body suits to prevent radiation.
Special equipment is required only for reactor buildings or other restricted areas.
There are enough tanks in the factory building to fill 400 Olympic venues.
Machines called Advanced Liquid Handling Systems (ALPS) have processed the water inside them.
Tokyo Electric Power said the device could remove all radionuclides except tritium, a relatively harmless hydrogen isotope that is difficult to separate from water. Tritium-
Shares are released into the environment at nuclear sites around the world.
But after last year's newspaper reports questioned the effectiveness of the Alps
Tepco admitted that the treated water
90 and other radioactive elements remain in many tanks.
Tokyo Electric Power said that the reason for these problems is that the replacement of absorbing materials in the equipment is not frequent enough.
Utilities have promised to renew
If the government decides that it is the best solution to release the water into the ocean, clean the water.
This is the cheapest of the five options considered by a government task force in 2016;
Others include evaporation and burial.
Tepco and the government are waiting for another panel of experts to make suggestions.
The head of the panel declined the request for an interview.
No deadline is set.
The NRA chief Toyoshi Fuketa believes that diluted Marine release is the only viable way to deal with the water problem.
He warned that delaying the decision indefinitely could undermine the retirement program.
Another option would be to store water in a huge tank commonly used for crude oil for decades.
Yasuro Kawai, a nuclear power plant engineer and member of the Citizens' Nuclear Energy Commission, said the tanks had been tested for durability, an organization that advocated the abandonment of nuclear energy.
He said that each tank holds 100,000 tons, so 10 such tanks can store about 1 million tons of water that the Alps have treated so far.
The Commission proposes tritium
The water Thorn has a half-life of 12.
3 years, the tank service in 123.
After that, it will be one in a million of the radioactivity, just as it was when it was put into storage.
Although experts warn that tanks are easily affected by the big earthquake, Japanese trade and industry minister Hiroshige Seko said the commission would consider them anyway. “Long-term storage . . .
When the radiation level drops, it has an upward trend in storage.
But there is a risk of leakage. "Seko told Reuters.
"It is difficult to hold water indefinitely, so the group will also look at how it should be disposed of in the end.
Akira Ono, chief retired officer of Tepco, said: "Space is also a problem.
The utility will expand the storage tank capacity by 2020 to 10%.
By the end of this year, he said, there will be 37 million tons, about 95% of the total capacity.
"Tanks are now being built on a flat elevated road in a stable position," Ono said . ".
But he added that there is less and less such ideal space.
Many local residents hope that TEPCO will continue to store water.
The captain of the fishing boat, Matsumoto, said that if it was really released into the ocean, "everyone would fall into a depression . ".
Fukushima was once a popular place for surfers.
But young people in the area are no longer surfing because they have been warned many times that they are suspected of being radioactive in the water, said Mr Ichiro kobayiro, the owner of the surf.
The release of treated water from plants "may eventually also drive the next generation of children off the sea," he said ".
Dealing with contaminated water is one of the many complex issues involved in retirement, Ono said.
A year ago, when he took over to lead the work, he said, it felt like the project had just "entered trailhead ".
"Now, it feels like we're really starting to climb.