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Residents blast water-discharge method at Fukushima plant

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Tanks containing radioactive water are seen in the compound of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant that spans the towns of Okuma and Futaba in Fukushima Prefecture.
 
August 31, 2018
TOMIOKA, Fukushima Prefecture–Fishermen and local residents on Aug. 30 vehemently opposed the government’s plan to discharge radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea, saying the measure will damage a number of industries.
During a public hearing on the measure, they also blasted the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., for “misleading” the public by failing to disclose that radioactive substances, such as strontium, remained in the water to be discharged.
Although the ministry and TEPCO will likely have to repeat purification measures for the water to remove those substances, they gained little support for their plan to deal with the radioactive water accumulating at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
Thirteen of the 14 people who were allowed to express their opinions at the ministry-organized public hearing expressed opposition to the water-discharge plan.
“The (negative) influences of the measure will reach a wide range of fields, including not only the fishery industry but also tourism and restaurant businesses,” said Tatsuya Ito, a resident of Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, and a member of “Genpatsu-mondai Jumin-undo Zenkoku-renraku Center (National liaison center for residents’ movements on nuclear power generation issues).
Tetsu Nozaki, chairman of the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations, emphasized that releasing the water into the sea would deal a “devastating blow” to the prefecture’s fisheries industry.
“If the water is discharged in large quantities, it will inevitably cause confusion in Japan and abroad and lead to damage from groundless rumors,” Nozaki said.
After the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami caused the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 plant in March 2011, coastal fishing in Fukushima Prefecture was suspended because of radioactive water flowing into the sea.
Fishing for three types of fish later resumed on a trial basis. Now, more than 170 types are permitted, and preparations are being made for a full-scale resumption of operations.
But at the plant, groundwater flowing into the damaged reactor buildings continues to pose a problem, even after underground frozen walls were completed to divert the clean water into the sea.
About 100 tons of groundwater still become contaminated every day after entering the buildings. TEPCO also injects 70 tons of water daily into each of the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 reactors to cool the melted fuel.
Water from the buildings is purified, and 100 tons are stored in large tanks in the compound of the plant per day. The remaining water is re-injected into the reactors.
The volume of water stored in those tanks has reached 920,000 tons in the seven-and-a-half years since the triple meltdown. About 900 tanks, including those for unpurified water, now stand at the plant.
The ministry says that increasing the number of tanks will become impossible in late 2020 due to the limited space. It believes that a method to dispose of radioactive water must be decided within this year at the earliest.
The facilities used to purify the water remove radioactive substances, such as cesium and strontium, but they cannot eliminate tritium, whose chemical nature is the same as hydrogen’s.
Discharging tritium into the sea is permitted if its radioactivity level is less than the statutory standard of 60,000 becquerels per liter of water.
But at the public hearing, the participants learned that traces of strontium also remained in the purified water.
“(The ministry and TEPCO) have misled the public,” said Kazuyoshi Sato, an Iwaki city assemblyman. “They made a serious mistake in the fair disclosure of a wide range of information.”
After the hearing, Ichiro Yamamoto, professor emeritus of nuclear power at Nagoya University and chairman of a government subcommittee on disposing of radioactive water, admitted that the government failed to sufficiently explain the fact that radioactive substances other than tritium remained in the water.
“I think that it is necessary to purify the water again,” he said.
In May 2016, a ministry working group offered five methods to dispose of the radioactive water: putting it into geological layers; discharging it into the sea; releasing it as steam; discharging it as hydrogen; and burying it in the ground.
The group said if the radioactive water is diluted and released into the sea, it would cost 3.4 billion yen ($30 million) and take seven years and four months to complete. It concluded that this was cheapest and quickest of the five methods.
Toyoshi Fuketa, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, also supported the measure of releasing the water into the sea, saying, “It is the only feasible method.”
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September 3, 2018 - Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , ,

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