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TEPCO gets the go-ahead for first phase of plan to discharge water

Storage tanks at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant hold tons of radiation-contaminated water.

August 3, 2022

FUKUSHIMA–Local officials here gave the go-ahead to Tokyo Electric Power Co. to begin preparations to discharge tons of treated but still contaminated water from its stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean.

Approval was given Aug. 2 by Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori and the mayors of Okuma and Futaba, where the TEPCO plant is located, for the utility to begin work to dig a tunnel from the site and install the necessary equipment.

However, TEPCO still needs to gain the understanding of “interested parties” before any water can be released.

The plan has angered local fishermen concerned about their livelihoods and triggered alarm overseas as the water will still contain a radioactive element, tritium, which is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, that cannot be removed with current technology.

Thousands of tons of contaminated water have accumulated at the plant that went into triple meltdown in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, and the facility is fast running out of space to set up more storage tanks.

Tetsu Nozaki, who heads the Fukushima prefectural federation of fisheries cooperatives, told reporters in late July that his organization remains steadfastly opposed to the release of the water into the ocean. Fishermen also are up in arms, fearing the move would only fuel further negative publicity over their fish hauls.

Uchibori and the mayors met Aug. 2 with Tomoaki Kobayakawa, the TEPCO president, and told him they had no issue with the safety of the equipment to be used.

Prior approval of any new equipment TEPCO plans to install at the Fukushima plant is required under a safety agreement the local governments signed with the utility.

Uchibori again pressed TEPCO officials to make an all-out effort to gain the understanding of interested parties so the water release plan can go ahead.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority in July approved TEPCO’s water release plan. Prior to that, Uchibori stated that any decision on approving the new equipment to be installed at the Fukushima plant would be made regardless of opposition among interested parties to the plan.

In August 2015, the government and TEPCO submitted a document to the prefectural fisheries cooperatives federation stating that no water would be treated and released into the ocean without the understanding of the interested parties.


August 4, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima OKs facility construction for treated water release plan

August 2, 2022

Local authorities have approved the construction of an underwater tunnel and other facilities to release treated water from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the ocean.

Officials from Fukushima Prefecture and the towns of Okuma and Futaba, which host the plant, conveyed their decision to the president of Tokyo Electric Power Company on Tuesday.

TEPCO, the operator of the plant, had sought the approval of those authorities based on a safety agreement.

Reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant suffered meltdowns in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

Water used to cool molten fuel mixes with rain and groundwater. The accumulated water is treated to remove most of the radioactive materials and stored in tanks on the plant’s premises.

The filtered water still contains tritium. The government plans to dilute the water, so that the percentage of tritium is well below the percentage permitted by national regulations. The amount of tritium in the diluted water is also expected to be below the guidance levels for drinking water quality established by the World Health Organization.

The utility is now set to start full-fledged construction of the underwater tunnel and other facilities. It hopes to complete the work around spring of next year.

In July, the Nuclear Regulation Authority gave its final approval for the plan that TEPCO drew up.

One focal point had been whether the local authorities would approve the plan.

Locals, including fishers, are concerned about potential reputational damage to the region.

August 4, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Construction of Fukushima water release facilities to begin Thurs.

Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori, center left, hands a petition to Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Koichi Hagiuda, center right, in Tokyo on Aug. 3, 2022. (Kyodo)

August 3, 2022

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Construction of facilities to discharge treated water from the crippled nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture into the sea will commence Thursday, according to the plant operator, even as opposition at home and abroad remains.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. said at a press conference Wednesday it still aims to begin releasing the treated water containing tritium about 1 kilometer off the Pacific coast around next spring after diluting it with seawater to one-40th of the maximum concentration permitted under Japanese regulations.

But the plan could be delayed until next summer due to the tight schedule.

Initially, TEPCO had planned to start constructing the facilities in June but it was only approved in July by the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

The tanks storing treated water on the premises of the Fukushima Daiichi plant are expected to reach full capacity around next fall, according to TEPCO’s calculation.

Construction will start after approval was given earlier in the week by the Fukushima prefectural government and two municipalities hosting the seaside power plant, severely damaged after a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 caused core meltdowns at multiple nuclear reactors.

Water that has become contaminated after being pumped in to keep the melted fuel cool has been accumulating at the complex, also mixing with rainwater and groundwater at the site.

TEPCO and the government still face a tall task to persuade fishing communities in Japan and neighboring China, who continue to oppose the release of the treated water on safety grounds.

“It is important for us to make the best effort to clear various concerns and anxiety over the discharge plan,” a TEPCO official said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying reiterated her country’s opposition to Japan’s plan, calling it “irresponsible” and saying it takes no heed of concerned countries.

The South Korean government has also been expressing concern following the approval by the NRA, it said it will seek responsible handling of the situation by Japan under the principle that people’s health and safety are of the highest priority.

Taiwan’s nuclear energy council said it respects Japan’s decision as it believes the nuclear regulator made the decision on a legal basis and using its expertise.

Local government chiefs from the prefecture on Wednesday also called on the central government to take measures to prevent reputational damage to marine products, a key issue that severely impacted local businesses in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The mayors of Okuma and Futaba, the two towns hosting the Fukushima plant, and Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori made the request during a meeting with Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda in Tokyo.

“The plan has not earned enough understanding from Japanese people and residents of the prefecture, as there are still various opinions including concerns over renewed reputational damage,” Uchibori said at the meeting, which was partially open to the media.

Okuma Mayor Jun Yoshida also urged the government to lead from the front, saying, “We hope people in the disaster-stricken area will no longer suffer from reputational damage.”

Hagiuda responded that the plan will be carried out on the premise of ensuring safety and taking thorough measures to prevent reputational damage, adding, “We will deliver information based on scientific evidence throughout the country and abroad.”

For the fisheries industry that faces the risk of damage caused by harmful rumors, it is important to create an environment where their products are traded at fair prices so young people can continue to operate businesses without worries, the local leaders’ request said.

August 4, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , , | Leave a comment