TEPCO struggling with disposal of stored contaminated rainwater

November 07, 2013

By SHUNSUKE KIMURA/ Staff Writer

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has yet to figure out what to do with 2,700 tons of radioactive rainwater now stored in two underground tanks at its crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The Fukushima prefectural government has accused TEPCO of dragging its feet on the issue and requested the plant operator to quickly transfer the rainwater elsewhere.

“It remains unknown why radioactive water (previously) leaked from some of the underground tanks, and no measures have been taken so far,” said a prefectural government official. “We have been demanding that (TEPCO) transfer (the contaminated rainwater) as soon as possible.”

When two typhoons pounded the plant in October, radioactive water accumulating within barriers surrounding aboveground storage tanks threatened to spill over.

TEPCO lowered the water levels by releasing the rainwater behind barriers where radioactivity levels were confirmed to be well below provisional safety standards.

Where readings were found to be higher than the safety standards, the utility transferred the water to the two underground tanks. TEPCO had stopped using its underground storage tanks after water had been found leaking from some in April, but the utility said heavy rainstorms forced it to bring the underground tanks in which no leaks were detected back in use.

TEPCO had said that reusing the underground storage tanks is just a temporary measure as it intended to transfer the contaminated rainwater to the basements of the No. 2 and No. 3 reactor turbine buildings, where some radioactive water had already accumulated, as quickly as possible.

But it remains unclear how soon that will happen as large amounts of groundwater have been flowing into the basements each day--as well as rainwater transferred there from other locations--filling the sites and making it impossible to store additional radioactive water there.

More recently, TEPCO said it will have to continue to make use of the underground storage tanks until it is able to process the contaminated water and remove the radioactive substances.

By SHUNSUKE KIMURA/ Staff Writer
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Workers remove rainwater from behind a barrier, center, that surrounds radioactive water storage tanks on the grounds of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant amid a downpour from Typhoon No. 26 on Oct. 16. (Provided by Tokyo Electric Power Co.)

Workers remove rainwater from behind a barrier, center, that surrounds radioactive water storage tanks on the grounds of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant amid a downpour from Typhoon No. 26 on Oct. 16. (Provided by Tokyo Electric Power Co.)

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  • Workers remove rainwater from behind a barrier, center, that surrounds radioactive water storage tanks on the grounds of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant amid a downpour from Typhoon No. 26 on Oct. 16. (Provided by Tokyo Electric Power Co.)

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