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Fukushima ice wall facing doubts as project nears completion

Barrier will block only a fraction of groundwater contamination

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Work has begun on the final 7 meters of an “ice wall” at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

 

TOKYO — Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings began Tuesday the final phase of an underground “ice wall” around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant intended to reduce groundwater contamination, though experts warn the bold project could be much less effective than once hoped.

At 9 a.m., workers began activating a refrigeration system that will create the last 7 meters of a roughly 1.5km barrier of frozen earth around the plant’s reactor buildings, which were devastated by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdowns of March 2011. Masato Kino, an official from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry supervising the cleanup, spoke cautiously at the occasion, noting that “producing results is more important than the simple act of freezing” that particular segment of soil.

Tepco estimates that roughly 580 tons of water now pass through the ice wall on the reactor buildings’ landward side each day, down from some 760 tons before freezing of soil commenced in March 2016. About 130 tons daily enter the reactor buildings themselves, and Tepco hopes completing the wall will bring that figure below 100 tons.

By this math, the near-complete wall blocks only a little over 20% of groundwater coming toward it. But, as Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority said Aug. 15 when approving the wall’s final stage, the barrier is “ultimately only a supporting measure” to other systems preventing contamination. The main line of defense is a so-called subdrain system of 41 wells around the reactor buildings that pump up 400 to 500 tons of water daily, preventing clean water from entering the site and contaminated water from leaving it.

Slow going

Freezing of earth around the facility has been conducted gradually, amid concerns that highly contaminated water inside could rush out should the water level inside the reactor buildings drop. “Working carefully while keeping control of the water level is a must,” said Yuzuru Ito, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Setsunan University.

It is unclear precisely when the wall will be complete. The plan is to freeze soil 30 meters deep over the course of two or three months, completing the barrier as soon as this fall. But as the gap in the wall narrows, water flows through it more quickly, making soil there more difficult to freeze. “Water is flowing quickly now, and so it is difficult to proceed as we have so far,” a Tepco representative said.

Japan has spent some 34.5 billion yen ($315 million) in taxpayer funds on the wall, expecting the icy barrier to put a decisive end to groundwater contamination at the Fukushima plant. It now appears that a dramatic improvement is not likely, though the wall will still require more than 1 billion yen per year in upkeep. “The frozen-earth barrier is a temporary measure,” said Kunio Watanabe, a professor of resource science at Mie University. “Some other type of wall should be considered as well.”

https://asia.nikkei.com/Tech-Science/Tech/Fukushima-ice-wall-facing-doubts-as-project-nears-completion

 

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August 23, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Highly radioactive water leak at Fukushima No. 1 nuke plant

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In the background, from left, the No. 1, 2, 3, and 4 reactor buildings of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant are seen, in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Oct. 31, 2016. In front are tanks used to store contaminated water.
Highly radioactive water has leaked from the disaster-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) announced on Aug. 17.
The estimated 50 milliliters of contaminated water remained inside the station dike, and there was no leakage to the outer environment, plant operator TEPCO said. An analysis found that the tainted water contained 22 million becquerels per liter of beta-ray-emitting radioactive materials.
According to the utility, a worker from a company cooperating with TEPCO spotted water dripping from multi-nuclide removal equipment at the facility at around 2:15 p.m. on Aug. 16. After the worker mended the part with tape, the leakage stopped.

 

August 19, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Tritium at Fukushima: A Primer

There is much to be said about Tritium and Fukushima. I strongly recommend watching this interview with Kevin Kamps on Fukushima conditions, including and especially the huge volumes of tritiated water stored at the site:

 

Tritium is quite devious because its difficult to detect internally.
I’ve been thinking quite a bit about tritium. My friend Clyde Stagner introduced me to the ubiquity and dangers of tritium in the environment. You can read his book (Hidden Tritium at Amazon) and my blog description of his work here.

Today I had lunch with a friend who is an atmospheric chemist and we discussed how tritium in fog, or tritiated fog, might differ from ordinary fog.

We had a great discussion that I will follow up on later with implications drawn for webcam watching.

Living downwind from the Palo Verde Nuclear Power plant, and swimming quite often in open water, I imagine that I bear a certain number of hydrogen atoms with two neutrons, an isotope of hydrogen called Tritium, found rarely on earth before the twentieth century, but common in the upper atmosphere. On earth, tritium finds oxygen and binds to create tritiated water.

How radioactive am I compared to my ancestors who lived before the nineteenth century?

Related posts:

LTR-13-0077 – Clyde Stagner Ltr. re: Concerns regarding tritium in …

https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1303/ML13030A330.pdf

Jan 29, 2013 – Clyde Stagner … Subject: Tritium in Phoenix & People of Phoenix … an AMERSHAM PLANT in Cardiff, Wales (Ref: Figure 3,”Hidden Tritium“.

Majia’s Blog: Tritium in Swimming Pools

majiasblog.blogspot.com/2012/05/tritium-in-swimming-pools.html

May 13, 2012 – Stagner has calculated the probable concentration of tritium in swimming … Clyde Stagner’s book, Hidden Tritium, can be found at Amazon.com.

Majia’s Blog: Tritium and Nuclear Power Plants: “Blowdown” Worsens …

majiasblog.blogspot.com/2013/01/tritium-and-nuclear-power-plants.html

Jan 22, 2013 – My friend Clyde Stagner studied tritium emissions and … Stagner is author of Hidden Tritium and has had a long, distinguished career, .

Majia’s Blog: Encanto Park and Radioactive Tritium

majiasblog.blogspot.com/2012/08/encanto-park-and-radioactive-tritium.html

Aug 14, 2012 – Capt Stagner is petitioning the NRC to resume tritium monitoring in …. Clyde Stagner’s book, Hidden Tritium, can be found at Amazon.com.

Majia’s Blog: Tritium Contaminating Our Environment: A Letter …

majiasblog.blogspot.com/2012/07/tritium-contaminating-our-environment.html

Jul 17, 2012 – Monitoring of tritium in the area stopped after 2010 despite rising levels …. Clyde Stagner’s book, Hidden Tritium, can be found at Amazon.com.

Related article:

Impact of low doses of tritium on the marine mussel, Mytilus edulis: genotoxic effects and tissue-specific bioconcentration.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16039156

Source :

http://majiasblog.blogspot.fr/2017/08/tritium-at-fukushima-primer.html

 

 

 

 

August 3, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Tepco chairman’s remark on water release goes radioactive

Comment draws ire from Fukushima residents, fishermen and watchdog

0721N_TEPCO_article_main_imageTakashi Kawamura, a former Hitachi chairman, took up his current post just last month.

 

TOKYO — Comments by Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings’ chairman about releasing nuclear wastewater into the ocean are being met with anger from fisheries groups and many others.

Tepco Chairman Takashi Kawamura told news outlets earlier this month that the utility “has made its decision” on the release of tritiated water from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant to the ocean. Tritiated water is a radioactive form where the usual “light” hydrogen atoms are replaced with tritium.

Kyodo News reported the following day that the company shares the view of Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, that spilling the water into the sea would not cause any problem, scientifically speaking.

Tepco immediately released a statement saying Kawamura’s comments “did not intend to announce the concluded policy of the company on the matter.”

Nonetheless, the national cooperative of fishermen has protested. And rather unexpectedly, Tanaka criticized Kawamura for using his name to promote the company’s agenda. This is a worrying development for Tepco, since increased mistrust by the NRA could affect the utility’s medium- to long-term strategies, including restarting nuclear power plants.

Tritiated water is also released from normally functioning nuclear power plants. In Japan, water meeting official standards can be dumped into the sea.

But local residents have protested the idea, out of concern that rumors and misunderstandings could damage their community. At the Industry Ministry, a special committee has been considering the matter. Kawamura’s remarks were seen as getting ahead of that process, hence the backlash.

The wastewater in question still sits inside a number of storage tanks at the Fukushima power plant, with nowhere to go. Tepco and the government want to find a solution quickly, but the latest controversy shows that skipping careful and thoughtful communication with various stakeholders could end up costing them more time.

http://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Tepco-chairman-s-remark-on-water-release-goes-radioactive

July 21, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

New TEPCO executives tripping over their tongues

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TEPCO Chairman Takashi Kawamura, right, receives a formal letter of complaint from an executive member of JF Zengyoren, a nation-wide federation of fishery associations, over his comment about dumping contaminated water to the sea on July 19 in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward.
Hoping to restore trust in embattled Tokyo Electric Power Co., the company’s new chairman and president have instead generated unwanted criticism and hostility in their first gaffe-filled month on the job.
They have added to the problems facing the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which also is hoping to bring its idled reactors back online.
On July 19, TEPCO Chairman Takashi Kawamura, who is also honorary chairman of Hitachi Ltd., was apologizing at the headquarters of JF Zengyoren, a nationwide federation of fishery associations, in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward. He was forced to explain “the true intention” of remarks he made last week regarding the release of diluted radiation-contaminated water into the sea.
On July 12, during a collective media interview session, Kawamura said “the decision has been made” to do so.
On the Fukushima plant premises, nearly 780,000 tons of water used to cool the reactors are stored, which had been decontaminated of radioactive cesium and plutonium but not tritium. Legally, the tritium-tainted water can be released into the sea, if diluted enough so the concentration of tritium is below a set standard.
However, as the release would add further adversity to the struggling fishing industry in Fukushima and neighboring prefectures, the central government has not made any clear decision on what to do with it.
Kawamura, however, also said, “I am on the same line as the opinion of chair Shunichi Tanaka (of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority) that it is scientifically safe (to discharge water into the sea).”
On July 14, disaster reconstruction minister Masayoshi Yoshino expressed concerns that releasing the water now would “definitely affect public sentiment” over catches from Fukushima Prefecture, where full-scale fishing had been stalled.
At the July 19 meeting with the fishery federation, Kawamura retracted his comment, saying, “As a company or personally, no decision has ever been made whether to release contaminated water to the sea. The true intention of my comments were not properly understood by some media agency.” The TEPCO chairman apologized to Hiroshi Kishi, chairman of the federation, and others at the meeting.
Kishi, in return, submitted a letter of protest stating that they “strongly demand not to release radiation-contaminated water to the sea” and it is “unacceptable to the fishery industry and other Japanese people.”
On the same day, Kawamura admitted to the media what he said a week earlier, explaining that he meant “it cannot be independently decided by TEPCO.”
On July 19, in another part of Tokyo, NRA Chairman Tanaka told the media at a regular news conference that he is “boiling with anger” with Kawamura for including him in his comment. He also said Kawamura’s remark symbolizes his reluctance to face Fukushima residents.
“He used me as an excuse,” said Tanaka, who has suggested releasing water before the storage of contaminated water on the site reaches full capacity. “I have told him he needs to confront Fukushima issues as the first party to resolve them even if he faces a backlash. Despite that, he is still looking for an escape.”
On July 10, Kawamura and TEPCO President Tomoaki Kobayakawa attended a meeting with NRA members, including Tanaka, in Tokyo.
There, Kawamura said, “TEPCO has a responsibility to show that it can operate a nuclear power plant,” and he was warned by an NRA member for being “overly forward-looking.” Currently, none of TEPCO’s nuclear power plants are on-line.
On June 27, Kobayakawa also landed in hot water after referring to the town of Futaba, which co-hosts the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, as “where the evacuation order is partially lifted” in a comment to a group of reporters. However, the town has been in a “difficult-to-return zone” since the accident, and no residents are allowed to return to their homes.
At a regular news conference on July 18, a disgruntled Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori said, “I would like TEPCO to fulfill its responsibility as the operator that caused a severe accident.”

July 21, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Tepco ‘s response to the article about the release of tritiated water into the ocean

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A certain article reported today, “TEPCO decided to release tritiated water into the ocean” quoting the comment of TEPCO’s chairman Mr. Kawamura about the release of tritiated water into the ocean. The comment intended to say that TEPCO shares the same recognition with Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Dr. Tanaka, et al. that in accordance with the current regulation and standard based on scientific and technical ground, there should not be an impact of releasing tritiated water into the ocean. The comment did not intend to announce the concluded policy of the company on the matter.

We need to give our full attention to the satisfaction of both peace of mind of local residents and reconstruction of Fukushima, as well as the safety requirement to meet regulation and standard for the final decision. We will carefully examine our policy on the matter with the government and local stakeholders from such a perspective.

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/announcements/2017/1444608_10494.html

July 18, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Will Tepco Dump 770,000 tons of Tritiated Water Into the Pacific Ocean???

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Massive amounts of radiation-contaminated water that has been processed and stored in hundreds of tanks at the plant are hindering decommissioning work and pose a safety risk in case another massive quake or tsunami strikes.

“TEPCO needs to release the water — which contains radioactive tritium that is not removable but considered not harmful in small amounts — into the Pacific Ocean”, declared Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s new Chairman Takashi Kawamura during an interview at the TEPCO headquarters in Tokyo on Thursday, July 13, 2017.

The method is favored by experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency and Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority as the only realistic option. Earlier, TEPCO had balked at calls by NRA chairman Shunichi Tanaka for controlled release of the water, now exceeding 770,000 metric tons, into the sea, fearing a public backlash.

Tepco’s intention to release more than 770,000 metric tons of triated water into the sea was relayed by many media, the Japan Times adding to the volume number of 770,000 metric tons, that it was contained in 580 tanks. The volume number is right, to be precise it concerns 777,647 metric tons of tritiated water, but the 580 tanks number is wrong.

Knowing that those tanks have a capacity of 1000 metric tons each, 777,647 metric tons can only be stored in 780 tanks and not in 580 tanks only.

Of course in that 777,647 metric tons, are not included the other 202,565 metric tons of  only partially decontaminated water, in which Cesium and Strontium are been already filtered out but the other 62 radionuclides have not been yet filtered by the Multi-nuclides Removal System (ALPS). Those 202,565 metric tons stored in some additional 202 tanks more in the Storing Tank Area.

Bringing the total of contaminated water, Cesium/Strontium partially decontaminated water plus the 62 radionuclides decontaminated water (Tritiated water) to a total of 980,212 metric tons stored in 980 tanks.

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Of course it is not question to release the partially decontaminated water (202,565 metric tons) into the sea, only the fully decontaminated water (all radionuclides removed to the exception of tritium), the tritiated water, the 777,647 metric tons.

On the Tepco Press Release on Jul 10,2017, Tepco indicates quite clearly the actual volume of the 2 types of water stored in those tanks. Knowing that all those tanks have a capacity of 1000 metric tons each, the maths are easy.

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Some media along the way, I suspect the Japan Times AGAIN, added the 580 tanks number into its article, maybe a typo from 5 to 7, then the error was copied on and on by the other media.

It is sad to see professionnal media not capable to get their numbers right.

Since that July 13, 2017 declaration from Tepco’s new chairman, Tepco is now backpedaling, saying that they have not yet reached that decision, fearing a public backlash and the ire of the local fishermen.

The radioactive half-life of Tritium is 12,3 years, its radioactive full life is 123 years to 184,5 years. Once inside the body, tritium can lead to internal exposure. Its biological half-life of 10 days, full life 100 to 150 days.

Tepco Press Release July 10, 2017 Nuclear Power Station (310th Release) Nuclear Power Station (310th Release):  http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu17_e/images/170710e0201.pdf

 

July 18, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tepco backpedals after disaster reconstruction chief knocks plan to dump tritiated water into sea

 Hey, a change in the ‘official’ strategy: why admit it & damage your image when you can keep letting it happen & say you’ve decided not to do it ?

n-tritium-a-20170716-870x580.jpgThe Fukushima No. 1 plant and hundreds of tanks containing tritiated water are viewed from the air in February

 

Tokyo Electric backed off its tritium-dumping decision Friday after disaster reconstruction minister Masayoshi Yoshino said it would cause problems for struggling fishermen trying to recover in Fukushima Prefecture.

The remarks made Friday by the Fukushima native came shortly after the chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. was quoted as saying that the decision to discharge tritium-tainted water from the Fukushima No. 1 power plant into the sea had “already been made.”

After Tepco Chairman Takashi Kawamura’s remarks were widely reported, the utility scrambled to make a clarification the same day.

According to Tepco’s clarification, Kawamura meant to say that there was “no problem” with the dumping plan, based on government guidelines and “scientific and technological standards.” The statement also said that no final decision had been made.

A government panel is still debating how to deal with the massive amount of tainted water stored in tanks at the atomic plant, where three reactor cores melted after a huge earthquake in March 2011 spawned tsunami that devastated the region and knocked out all power at the plant.

Tritium typically poses little risk to human health unless ingested in high amounts. It remains in filtered water as it is difficult to extract on an industrial basis. Ocean discharges of diluted volumes of tritium-tainted water are a routine part of nuclear power plant operations.

At a news conference, Yoshino said there would “certainly be damage due to unfounded rumors” if the tainted water were dumped into the sea. He urged those pushing for the release “not to create fresh concerns for fishermen and those running fishing operations in Fukushima Prefecture.” He also asked them to take care not to drive fishermen “further toward the edge.”

Yoshino, who is not directly involved in the decision-making process for handling the water, was alluding to local concerns about how people’s livelihoods will be affected if people think marine products from Fukushima are contaminated with radiation. He added that while he is aware that many in the scientific community say the diluted water can be safely released, he remains opposed.

As I am also a native of Fukushima Prefecture, I fully understand the sentiment of the people,” the minister said.

Water injected to perpetually cool the damaged reactors becomes tainted in the process. A high-tech filtering apparatus set up at the plant can remove 62 types of radioactive material but not tritium. As a result, tritiated water is building up continuously at the plant. As of July 6, about 777,000 tons were stored in about 580 tanks on the premises.

On March 11, 2011, tsunami inundated the six-reactor plant, which is situated 10 meters above sea level, and crippled its power supply, causing a station-wide blackout. The failure of the cooling systems in reactors 1, 2 and 3 then led to a triple core meltdown that became the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/07/15/national/tepco-backpedals-disaster-reconstruction-chief-knocks-plan-dump-tritiated-water-sea/#.WWoQ3IqQzdQ

July 17, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tepco Says It Has Not Made Final Decision On Discharging Contaminated Water Into Sea

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17 Jul (NucNet): Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) said in a statement on 14 July 2017 that it had not made a final decision on whether or not to release water containing tritium into the sea at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power station.

Tepco, which owns and operates the facility, was reacting to media reports that its chairman, Takashi Kawamura, had said the decision had already been made. But Tepco said in its statement posted on its website, that while it agreed with Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) that there should be no impact from releasing tritiated water into the ocean, Tepco had not finalised its policy on the matter.

We need to give our full attention to the satisfaction of both peace of mind of local residents and the reconstruction of Fukushima prefecture, as well as meeting regulation and safety standards for a final decision,” the statement said. “We will carefully examine our policy on the matter with the government and local stakeholders from such a perspective.”

Tepco said tritium typically poses little risk to human health unless ingested in high amounts, and ocean discharges of diluted volumes of tritium-tainted water are a routine part of nuclear power plant operations. This is because it is a byproduct of nuclear operations but cannot be filtered out of water.

As of 6 July 2017, about 770,000 tonnes of water containing tritium were stored in about 580 tanks at the Fukushima-Daiichi station, which is running out of storage space.

Contaminated cooling water at the station is being treated by a complex water-processing system that can remove 62 different types of radioactive materials except tritium, which is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen.

According to the Japan Times, NRA chairman Shunichi Tanaka has been urging Tepco to release the water. But fishermen who make their livelihoods near the station are opposed to the releases, the newspaper said.

http://www.nucnet.org/all-the-news/2017/07/17/tepco-says-it-has-not-made-final-decision-on-discharging-contaminated-water-into-sea

July 17, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Minister opposes releasing treated water from Fukushima plant into sea

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TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan’s disaster reconstruction minister said Friday he is opposed to treated water from the disaster-struck Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant being released into the sea, citing the possible repercussions for local fishermen.

Masayoshi Yoshino’s remarks came shortly after a top official from plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. said he is ready to see the tritium-containing water dumped into the sea.

A government panel is still debating how to deal with the water stored in tanks at the plant where three nuclear reactors melted down in the days after a huge earthquake and then tsunami struck the region in 2011.

Tritium is a radioactive substance considered relatively harmless to humans. It remains in the filtered water as it is difficult to separate even after passing through a treatment process. At other nuclear power plants, tritium-containing water is routinely released into the sea after it is diluted.

Yoshino expressed at a news conference his concerns over the potential ramifications of releasing the treated water into the sea, saying there would “certainly be (perception) damage due to unfounded rumors.”

The minister urged those pushing for the release of the water “not to create fresh concerns for fishermen and those running fishing operations in Fukushima Prefecture.” He also asked them “not to drive (fishermen) further towards the edge.”

He was alluding to concerns among local fishermen about the effects on their livelihood if the public perceives fish and other marine products caught off Fukushima to be contaminated.

Takashi Kawamura, chairman of Tepco, said in a recent interview that the decision to discharge the treated water “has already been made.”

After Kawamura’s remarks were widely reported, the utility was forced to make a clarification through a statement on Friday. Tepco said its chairman meant to say there is “no problem (with releasing water containing tritium) according to state guidelines based on scientific and technological standpoints,” and that the decision to release is not yet final.

While the plant operator and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry want to discharge the water, the local fishermen, backed by the minister, are opposed to it.

At the Fukushima plant, water becomes toxic when it is used to cool the damaged reactors. It is treated through a process said to be capable of removing 62 different types of radioactive material, except tritium.

Yoshino said Friday that while he is aware of some scientists’ opinion that the water should be released after it is diluted to permissible levels, he is not in favor of the idea.

“As I am also a native of Fukushima Prefecture, I fully understand the sentiment of the people,” Yoshino said. However, the minister has no authority to decide how the treated water will be disposed.

An ever-increasing amount of water containing tritium is collecting in tanks at the Fukushima plant. As of July 6, approximately 777,000 tons were stored in about 580 tanks.

On March 11, 2011, water inundated the six-reactor plant, located on ground 10 meters above sea level, and flooded power supply facilities. Reactor cooling systems were crippled and the Nos. 1 to 3 reactors suffered fuel meltdowns in the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170715/p2g/00m/0dm/064000c

July 17, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s Nuclear Waste Will Be Dumped Into the Ocean, Japanese Plant Owner Decides

Toxic waste produced by one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters will be dumped into the sea, according to the head of the Japanese company tasked with cleaning up the radioactive mess, despite protests from local fishermen.

Takashi Kawamura, chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), told foreign media that nearly 777,000 tons of water tainted with tritium, a byproduct of the nuclear process that is notoriously difficult to filter out of water, will be dumped into the Pacific Ocean as part of a multibillion-dollar recovery effort following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. That year, an earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, killing over 15,000 people and leading to a series of meltdowns at the TEPCO-owned Fukushima No. 1, or Daiichi, nuclear power plant, causing it to spew radiation that has plagued the region ever since. While much progress has been made to clean the area, the company has only just resolved the debate over what to do with the water that was used to cool the plant’s damaged reactors, causing it to become tainted with tritium.

“The decision has already been made,” Kawamura said, according to The Japan Times.

We could have decided much earlier, and that is TEPCO’s responsibility,” he added, according to Reuters.

rtszxvl.jpgA member of the media uses a Geiger counter at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima, Japan, February 23, 2017. The site includes hundreds of tanks containing about 777,000 tons of water laced with tritium that TEPCO has decided to dump into the nearby sea, despite opposition from local fishermen.

 

Tritium is relatively harmless to humans in small doses ( so they pretend), and Japanese Nuclear Regulatory Agency Chairman Shunichi Tanaka told The Guardian last year that the tritium in Fukushima’s tanks was “so weak in its radioactivity it won’t penetrate plastic wrapping.” Dumping tritium-contaminated water into the sea is not at all an uncommon practice at nuclear power plants, but it’s been met with opposition by local fishermen, who say their industry has suffered enough in the aftermath of the environmental crisis.

While TEPCO and Tokyo say that the low concentration of tritium would do little damage to the ecosystem and could prevent a more serious accident from occurring at the site, where around 580 tanks are stored, fishermen argue that the negative publicity would be devastating to their livelihoods. Dozens of countries and the European Union now ban certain fish imports from Japan following the disaster, and up to 33 continue to do so as of March. TEPCO’s decision also has been met with outrage by anti-nuclear activists such as Aileen Mioko-Smith of Kyoto-based Green Action Japan, a group created in 1991 that is “working to create a nuclear-power-free Japan,” according to its official website.  

“This accident happened more than six years ago, and the authorities should have been able to devise a way to remove the tritium instead of simply announcing that they are going to dump it into the ocean,” Mioko-Smith told the Telegraph.

“They say that it will be safe because the ocean is large so it will be diluted, but that sets a precedent that can be copied, essentially permitting anyone to dump nuclear waste into our seas,” she continued.

july 14 2017 evacuated zonesA map showing the status of restricted areas affected by radiation from the Fukushima No.1 nuclear plant as of March 6, 2017. The nuclear disaster displaced up to 150,000 people, and many are reluctant to return to the region, despite pressure from the Japanese government.

 

TEPCO’s over-budget, oft-delayed effort to recover its former plant has been the subject of controversy for a number of reasons. Due to residual nuclear fuel, parts of the plant are so radioactive that they have even destroyed the robots specifically designed to survive in the deadly environment. Last month, Japanese company Toshiba announced it would send a new robot dubbed “little sunfish” to surveil the flooded area of the plant from which no device has returned, BBC News reported. A number of TEPCO officials have also stood trial for negligence over the nuclear disaster.

As for the rest of the Fukushima prefecture, life has started to resume, albeit slowly. Of the estimated 150,000 who fled, only around 13 percent have come back. The Japanese government has increasingly pressured the rest to return by pledging greater investment in Fukushima’s infrastructure and by withdrawing subsidies provided to the refugees and their families.

http://www.newsweek.com/fukushima-nuclear-waste-dumped-ocean-japanese-protests-637108

July 16, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO Announces Will Dump Radioactive Water at Fukushima Daiichi

From Majia’s Blog

TEPCO is announcing that its going to be dumping tritiated water into the sea:

Fukushima’s tritiated water to be dumped into sea, Tepco chief says (July 14, 2017). The Japan Times, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/07/14/national/science-health/tepco-says-decision-already-made-release-radioactive-low-toxic-tritium-sea-fishermen-irate/#.WWjs_lHdnwk 

Despite the objections of local fishermen, the tritium-tainted water stored at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant will be dumped into the sea, a top official at Tokyo Electric says.

The decision has already been made,” Takashi Kawamura, chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., said in a recent interview with the media.

Tritium typically poses little risk to human health unless ingested in high amounts, and ocean discharges of diluted volumes of tritium-tainted water are a routine part of nuclear power plant operations. This is because it is a byproduct of nuclear operations but cannot be filtered out of water.

As of July 6, about 777,000 tons were stored in about 580 tanks at the Fukushima plant, which is quickly running out of space.

TEPCO has been contaminating the ocean with tritiated water since the beginning of the disaster, inadvertently and also deliberately. In 2015 TEPCO was given formal permission to dump water measuring up to 1,500 becquerels per liter of tritium.

See my blog posts here:

http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2016/04/contaminated-water-at-fukushima-daiichi.html

http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2014/02/contaminated-water-at-fukushima-daiichi.html

TEPCO cannot filter tritium from water because tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that binds with oxygen, making radioactive water. So, all the water TEPCO has filtered using the ALPS and other systems is still highly tritiated.

TEPCO’s solution to unprecedented volumes of tritiated water is to dilute the filtered water to a level deemed acceptable for dumping in the ocean.

TEPCO’s maximum storage capacities for holding radioactive water in tanks at the site was reached years ago. Here is an excerpt from my book Crisis Communications, Liberal Democracy and Ecological Sustainability addressing the problems of contaminated water at Daiichi:

In May of 2013 The Asahi Shimbun reported the TEPCO was going to begin dumping groundwater at the Daiichi site because its storage capacities for contaminated water were nearly exhausted. There was considerable resistance from local fisherman because TEPCO lacked the capacity to remove Strontium-90 from captured water.

At that time, TEPCO reported that filtered water measured 710 million Becquerels per liter while unfiltered water was reported as twice as radioactive,[i] from tritium and strontium, the latter of which could not be filtered until the fall of 2014.[ii]

In 2015 the NRA approved a plan to allow TEPCO to dump decontaminated groundwater into the sea if the water registered less than 1 becquerel per liter of cesium, less than 3 becquerels per liter of beta emitters such as Strontium-90, and 1,500 becquerels per liter of tritium (NRA signs off on TEPCO plan to release decontaminated groundwater into sea January 22, 2015 http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201501220054).

Despite the low limits of contamination allowed by law in 2015, it appears likely from news accounts and TEPCO press releases that contaminated water has been deliberately and accidentally released into the ocean since 2013, if not earlier, because the reported volume of water in storage declined between 2014 and 2015, despite daily production of hundreds of tons of water that exceed decontamination capacities:

· May of 2013, TEPCO reported it held approximately 280,000 tons of radioactive water in storage, while an additional 100,000 tons were believed to reside in the basements of units 1 through 4, as well as in the turbine buildings.[iii]

· August 2013 TEPCO reported that approximately 300,000 tons of contaminated water leaked from one of the storage tanks and promised to treat all the contaminated water in storage by March 2015 (http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150123_30.html).

· January 2014 TEPCO announces at press conference that contaminated water in storage tanks is producing Bremsstrahlung radiation, which contributes to rising atmospheric radiation levels at the Daiichi site (Mochuzuki, 2014). The Nuclear Regulation Authority ordered TEPCO to lower radiation levels derived from tanks storing contaminated water to below 1 millisievert by the end of March 2015. Nagano

· February 2014 TEPCO reports a high of 360,000 tons of contaminated water in storage (Varma, 2014).Water measuring 230 million Becquerels per liter was reported leaking from storage containers at Daiichi in February 2014 (“TEPCO Finds,” 2014).

· September 18 2014: TEPCO reports 365,000 tons of highly contaminated water in storage tanks as of Sep 16 2014. (TEPCO begins test runs of new ALPS system at stricken plant. September 18, 2014). The Asahi Shimbun because the system in place since March 2013 has been prone to problems “So far, the existing trouble-prone ALPS equipment has processed 138,000 tons of contaminated water.”

· November 2014 TEPCO reports 500,000 tons of radioactive water is being stored in 1,000 large tanks, which include costlier new ones less likely to leak AP. Nuclear cleanup at Fukushima plant stymied by water woes November 13, 2014 http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201411130092

· January 15 2015 TEPCO reported it had 280,000 tons in storage and would not be able to meet its promised 2015 deadline (“TEPCO Racing Against Time, 2015)TSUYOSHI NAGANO TEPCO racing against time to process 280,000 tons of tainted water at Fukushima plant. (January 19, 2015)The Asahi Shimbun, http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201501190050

TEPCO has struggled with its ALPS water filtration system from the beginning: the system could not beta-emitters effectively (e.g., strontium and tritium) and was prone to breakdowns.

The new filtration system adopted in the fall of 2014 was an improvement because it removed Strontium but TEPCO announced it would regard water filtered by that system decontaminated, despite its failure to reduce other radionuclides:

Nagano, Tsuyoshi.TEPCO racing against time to process 280,000 tons of tainted water at Fukushima plant January 19, 2015 http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201501190050

The company introduced additional ALPS systems last autumn [fall 2014] to treat up to 1,960 tons of radioactive water a day.

The maximum processing capability was still insufficient to complete procedures by the end of March 2015, so TEPCO later in autumn introduced equipment that only removes strontium, which accounts for a large portion of all radioactive substances in the water. TEPCO has since been working to meet the target date by regarding strontium-free water as being “processed,” even if other radioactive substances remain.

Water filtered for strontium alone is now being designated as “processed,” although TEPCO hopes to get both the new and the old filtering system running together sometime in the spring of 2015.

It seems clear from these news report that water contaminated with beta emitters has very likely been dumped into the Pacific since the Fukushima crisis began. How long will contaminated water continue to be dumped or flow uncontained into the Pacific Ocean? Lack of ongoing sampling on land and in fresh and ocean water may lead scientists to underestimate the long-term effects of the disaster on the environment, particularly the ocean.

REFERENCES

[i] S. Kimura (6 April 2013) ‘120 Tons of Contaminated Water Leaks at Fukushima Nuclear Plant’, The Asahi Shimbun, http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201304060038, date accessed 7 April 2013.

[ii] Yoshida ‘Fukushima No. 1 Can’t Keep its Head Above Tainted Water’.

[iii] ‘TEPCO to Dump Groundwater to Ease Crisis at Fukushima Nuclear Plant’.

http://majiasblog.blogspot.fr/2017/07/tepco-announces-will-dump-radioactive.html

July 16, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | 1 Comment

Fishermen express fury as Fukushima plant set to release radioactive material into ocean

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Local residents and environmental groups have condemned a plan to release radioactive tritium from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean.

Officials of Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the plant, say tritium poses little risk to human health and is quickly diluted by the ocean.

In an interview with local media, Takashi Kawamura, chairman of TEPCO, said: “The decision has already been made.” He added, however, that the utility is waiting for approval from the Japanese government before going ahead with the plan and is seeking the understanding of local residents.

The tritium is building up in water that has been used to cool three reactors that suffered fuel melt-downs after cooling equipment was destroyed in the magnitude 9 earthquake and tsunami that struck north-east Japan in March 2011.

Around 770,000 tons of highly radioactive water is being stored in 580 tanks at the site. Many of the contaminants can be filtered out, but the technology does not presently exist to remove tritium from water.

“This accident happened more than six years ago and the authorities should have been able to devise a way to remove the tritium instead of simply announcing that they are going to dump it into the ocean”, said Aileen Mioko-Smith, an anti-nuclear campaigner with Kyoto-based Green Action Japan.

“They say that it will be safe because the ocean is large so it will be diluted, but that sets a precedent that can be copied, essentially permitting anyone to dump nuclear waste into our seas”, she told The Telegraph.

Fishermen who operate in waters off the plant say any release of radioactive material will devastate an industry that is still struggling to recover from the initial nuclear disaster.

“Releasing [tritium] into the sea will create a new wave of unfounded rumours, making all our efforts for naught”, Kanji Tachiya, head of a local fishing cooperative, told Kyodo News.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/14/fishermen-express-fury-fukushima-plant-set-release-radioactive/

 

July 14, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fukushima’s tritiated water to be dumped into sea, Tepco chief says. Does Tepco and Japan owns the Pacific Ocean?

We were all just kidding when we said we would save our ocean. Besides, what’s a little bit more poison in the Pacific? Pretending to manage the unmanageable. Dumping into the ecosystem is simply standard operation. The solution to pollution is dilution.–old adage.

Should all of us, all the other countries, stay silent while Tepco and Japan are deciding on their own to dump even more radioactive contamination into our Pacific Ocean?

I would like to point out that the Pacific ocean does not belong to Japan, it belongs to all of us; as my dear friend Sheila Parks already pointed out in her excellent December 2013 article which I recommend to everyone to read, https://www.opednews.com/articles/The-Pacific-Ocean-Does-Not-by-Sheila-Parks-Energy-Nuclear_Fukushima_Fukushima-Cover-up_Japan-131215-303.html.

Now, a question: Will all the Pacific Ocean neighboring countries will stand saying nothing about Japan dumping all that accumulated contaminated water into the Pacific ocean? Mind you, in addition to all what Tepco has been already unwillingly and willingly dumping on the sly with all kinds of lousy reasons during the past 6 years…

Terrible, but tritium is actually released by all nuclear reactors. Legally and illegally, which reactor communities should point out every chance they get. Tritium (H3O) can go everywhere in your body water goes, even across the blood brain and placental barriers, and is thought to be a cause of elevated rates of childhood leukemia around nuclear reactors.

 

july 14 2017 To dump into the sea.jpgAn employee walks past storage tanks for contaminated water at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, in February. Tepco needs to release the water — which contains radioactive tritium that is not removable but considered not harmful in small amounts — into the Pacific Ocean, Chairman Takashi Kawamura said.

 

Despite the objections of local fishermen, the tritium-tainted water stored at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant will be dumped into the sea, a top official at Tokyo Electric says.

The decision has already been made,” Takashi Kawamura, chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., said in a recent interview with the media.

Tritium typically poses little risk to human health unless ingested in high amounts, and ocean discharges of diluted volumes of tritium-tainted water are a routine part of nuclear power plant operations. This is because it is a byproduct of nuclear operations but cannot be filtered out of water.

As of July 6, about 777,000 tons were stored in about 580 tanks at the Fukushima plant, which is quickly running out of space.

Tepco’s decision has local fishermen worried that their livelihood is at risk because the radioactive material will further mar public perceptions about the safety of their catches.

Kawamura’s remarks are the first by the utility’s management on the sensitive matter. Since the March 2011 meltdowns were brought under control, the Fukushima No. 1 plant has been generating tons of toxic water that has been filling up hundreds of tanks at the tsunami-hit plant.

Kawamura’s comments came at a time when a government panel is still debating how to deal with the tritium issue, including whether to dump it all into sea.

Saying its next move is contingent on the panel’s decision, Kawamura hinted in the interview that Tepco will wait for the government’s decision before actually releasing the tainted water into the sea.

We cannot keep going if we do not have the support of the state” as well as Fukushima Prefecture and other stakeholders, he said.

Toxic water at the plant is being treated by a complex water-processing system that can remove 62 different types of radioactive materials except tritium.

Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, has been urging Tepco to release the water. Kawamura says he feels emboldened to have the support of the NRA chairman.

But fishermen who make their livelihoods from sea life near the plant are opposed to the releases because of how the potential ramifications will affect their lives.

Releasing (tritium) into the sea will create a new wave of unfounded rumors, making our efforts all for naught,” said Kanji Tachiya, head of a local fishermen cooperative.

Tachiya, of the cooperative that includes fishermen from the towns of Futaba and Okuma, which host the plant, took a swipe at Tepco’s decision, saying there has been “no explanation whatsoever from Tepco to local residents.”

On March 11, 2011, tsunami inundated the six-reactor plant, situated 10 meters above sea level, and flooded the power supply, causing a station blackout. The cooling systems of reactors 1, 2 and 3 were thus crippled, leading to core meltdowns that became the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

Water is being constantly injected into the leaking reactors to keep the molten fuel cool, creating tons of extremely toxic water 24/7. Although it is filtered through a complex processing system, extracting the tritium is virtually impossible.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/?post_type=news&p=1208906

July 14, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s Tepco to speed up post-Fukushima decisions: new chairman

“Tepco wants to release the tritium-laced water currently stored in hundreds of tanks at Fukushima into the ocean – common practice at normally operating nuclear plants – but the company is struggling to win approval from local fisherman.”

s1.reutersmedia.net.jpgTokyo Electric Power Co Holdings new chairman Takashi Kawamura speaks at a news conference in Tokyo, Japan April 3, 2017

 

TOKYO (Reuters) – The owner of the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will push to resolve debate over the release of contaminated water from the site that has dragged on for years since the devastating 2011 quake, its new chairman said on Thursday.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) 9501.1 would also speed up a final decision on the future of a nearby plant, Fukushima Daini, that suffered only minor damage, Chairman Takashi Kawamura, 77, said in an interview with foreign media.(For a graphic on Japan nuclear reactor restarts click tmsnrt.rs/1UTT0Tk)

“I’m very sorry that Tepco has been prolonging making a decision,” Kawamura, a former chairman of conglomerate Hitachi Ltd (6501.T), said. “Just like tritium, we will aim for an earliest possible conclusion.

Kawamura, who previously sat on a government panel looking into the Fukushima cleanup, said he believed Japan needed to keep operating nuclear power plants for future generations and as part of national security.

The nationalization of nuclear power plants was a matter that could be discussed in the future as national policies had a role in the operations of nuclear power, he added, but did not elaborate.

Tepco wants to release the tritium-laced water currently stored in hundreds of tanks at Fukushima into the ocean – common practice at normally operating nuclear plants – but the company is struggling to win approval from local fisherman.

Missteps and leaks have dogged the efforts to contain water, slowing down the decades-long decommissioning process and causing public alarm, while experts have raised concerns that tank failures could lead to an accidental release.

“We could have decided much earlier, and that is Tepco’s responsibility,” said Kawamura, adding that he would push a government task force overseeing the cleanup to give a clear timetable on when a decision could be made on tritium.

Tepco is also under pressure from the central and local governments to decommission all four reactors at Fukushima Daini, 10 kms (6 miles) to the south of the wrecked plant.

“One of the sticking points is that it’s taking time for an economic check of all plants,” Kawamura said, referring to studies on whether the plants would be economic once the cost of beefing up safety was taken into account.

Daini is expected to close given widespread public opposition to nuclear power in the area, but Tepco is aiming to restart the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in the country’s west.

Kawamura said he would cooperate with a review of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant’s safety by the local prefecture, which could delay any restart until at least 2020.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-tepco-idUSKBN19Y28M

July 14, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , , | Leave a comment