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Fukushima Nuclear Plant Is Running Out Of Space To Store Radioactive Water

The utility company operating Fukushima’s tsunami-devastated nuclear power plant said it will run out of space to store massive amounts of contaminated water in three years, adding pressure on the government and the public to reach a consensus on what to do with it.

Three reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant suffered meltdowns in a massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan.

Radioactive water has leaked from the damaged reactors and mixed with groundwater and rainwater at the plant.

The water is treated but remains slightly radioactive and is stored in large tanks.

The plant has accumulated more than 1 million tons of water in nearly 1,000 tanks. Its operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., says it plans to build more tanks but can accommodate only up to 1.37 million tons, which it will reach in the summer of 2022.

What to do after that is a big question.

Nearly 8 1/2 years since the accident, officials have yet to agree on what to do with the radioactive water.

A government-commissioned panel has picked five alternatives, including the controlled release of the water into the Pacific Ocean, which nuclear experts, including members of the International Atomic Energy Agency, say is the only realistic option.

Fishermen and residents, however, strongly oppose the proposal, saying the release would be suicide for Fukushima’s fishing and agriculture.

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Experts say the tanks pose flooding and radiation risks and hamper decommissioning efforts at the plant.

TEPCO and government officials plan to start removing the melted fuel in 2021, and want to free up part of the complex currently occupied with tanks to build safe storage facilities for melted debris and other contaminants that will come out.

In addition to four other options including underground injection and vaporization, the panel on Friday added long-term storage as a sixth option to consider.

Several members of the panel urged TEPCO to consider securing additional land to build more tanks in case a consensus cannot be reached relatively soon.

TEPCO spokesman Junichi Matsumoto said contaminants from the decommissioning work should stay in the plant complex.

The utility company operating Fukushima's tsunami-wrecked nuclear power plant said Friday, Aug. 9, 2019 it will run out of space for tanks to store massive amounts of treated but still contaminated water in three years

Matsumoto declined to specify the deadline for a decision on what to do with the water, but said he hopes to see the government lead public debate.

Some experts, however, said the priority should be the feelings of the residents, not the progress of decommissioning.

‘When we talk about Fukushima’s reconstruction, the question is if we should prioritize the decommissioning at the expense of Fukushima people’s lives,’ said Naoya Sekiya, a University of Tokyo professor of disaster social science.

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‘The issue is not just about science.’

WHAT WAS JAPAN’S 2011 FUKUSHIMA NUCLEAR DISASTER?

In 2011, a 10-metre-high (33ft) tsunami that killed nearly 19,000 people crashed into Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant.

This led to several meltdowns, allowing harmful radioactive fuel rods and debris to escape from contained areas.

Seven years after the disaster, researchers are still struggling to clean up fuel in the waters of the wasting reactors.

Pictured is an aerial view of the reactors of the tsunami-stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant stand in Okuma, Fukushima

It’s estimated that plant officials have only located 10 per cent of the waste fuel left behind after the nuclear meltdowns.

And the damaged plant is believed to be leaking small amounts of the radioactive waste into the Pacific Ocean, which could be travelling as far as the west cost of the United States.

Researchers are now pinning their hopes on remote-controlled swimming robots to locate the lost fuel in order to work out the safest way to remove it.

Source: Dailymail

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