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HOME  > Past issues  > 2013 March 13 - 19  > TEPCO tries to release radioactive water into ocean
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2013 March 13 - 19 TOP3 [NUCLEAR CRISIS]

TEPCO tries to release radioactive water into ocean

March 17, 2013
Akahata Sunday edition

Tokyo Electric Power Co. is attempting to discharge an increasing amount of radiation-contaminated water into the ocean from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

A total of decommissioning of the damaged reactors is said to take about 40 years. About 400 tons of groundwater flow into the plant everyday. This is likely because pipes under the ground were damaged by the massive earthquake or following explosions at the reactors.

At a meeting of the Nuclear Regulation Authority on January 24, a TEPCO official stated, “If we can release contaminated water into the ocean, we will be able to have some room for storage at the plant.”

According to journalist Kino Ryuichi, the operator of the crippled plant has claimed that it will not discharge the water without obtaining consensus from related parties since the plan met fierce opposition from the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations. “But it does not say that it will give up the plan whenever I ask them about it at press conferences,” said Kino.

The Fukushima plant already holds nearly 400,000 tons of radiation-contaminated water. 270,000 tons are maintained in tanks after cesium and salt are removed, and the rest remains within the reactor buildings.

It only takes two and a half days for water to fill a 1,000-ton tank. The plant currently has storage tanks capable of holding 320,000 tons of contaminated water and is expected to have no more space to add additional tanks after two years.

TEPCO plans to install new equipment to take out radioactive materials from the contaminated water in order to release the water into the ocean. The equipment, however, cannot remove radioactive tritium. According to a TEPCO engineer, tritium has similar properties as water, and present technology is unable to remove this radioactive substance from water.

According to the NRA, 1,800 Bq of tritium is contained per cc of contaminated water, which is 30 times more than the limit set by the national government (60 Bq/cc).

Due to radioactive water discharged from the Fukushima plant right after the accident, highly radioactive materials were detected in marine products. In late February this year, 510,000 Bq/kg of radioactive cesium was detected in rock trout caught at a port close to the crippled plant, which is 5,100 times more than the official limit.

Ichikawa Fujio, a former researcher at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, said, “If tritium is released into the ocean, it will not be diluted right away. The need is to develop the technology to remove the radioactive substance from the water before even talking about discharging it into the ocean.”
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