Fukushima operator starts diverting groundwater

2014-05-21 10:17
An employee of Tepco checking pumping out groundwater at the control room of Tepco's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture. (Tepco, AFP)

An employee of Tepco checking pumping out groundwater at the control room of Tepco's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture. (Tepco, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Tokyo - The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant said on Wednesday it has begun a bypass system that diverts groundwater into the sea in a bid to reduce the volume of contaminated water.

The move is an attempt to stop tons of unpolluted groundwater flowing under the battered plant and mixing with water already there and laced with radioactive isotopes.

Dealing with the huge - and growing - amount of water at the tsunami-damaged plant is proving to be one of the biggest challenges for Tokyo Electric Power co (Tepco), as it looks to clean up the mess after the worst nuclear disaster in a generation.

As well as all the water used to keep broken reactors cool, the utility must also deal with all the water that makes its way along subterranean watercourses on its way from mountainsides to the sea - a big contributor to the extra 300-400 tons per day.

For the last month Tepco has been pumping up groundwater on the hillside before it enters the plant site, and storing it in tanks.

Dangerous isotopes

On Wednesday, engineers started releasing that water after it satisfied quality tests more rigorous than those put in place by the Japanese government or by the United Nations, Tepco said in a statement.

The scheme has met opposition from fishermen in the area who are already battling the perception that their catch is not safe to eat because of pollutants from the plant.

The bypass got the green light after Tepco pledged it would exceed normal safety standards.

"With the bypass system, we are able to reduce by up to 80 tons per day" the volume of water that becomes contaminated under the plant, a Tepco spokesperson said.

In a test of water samples taken on 15 April, the readings for potentially dangerous isotopes, including caesium and tritium, passed its self-imposed operational rules which are stricter than the government regulations.

Readings for the contaminants were just a fraction of the maximum allowed under World Health Organisation guidelines for drinking water, Tepco said.

Meanwhile, thousands of gallons of contaminated water are still being stored at the sites, with no permanent solution so far agreed.

Many experts say that at some point the water will have to be released into the sea after being scoured of the most harmful contaminants.

They say it will pose a negligible risk to marine life or people, but local fishermen and neighbouring countries are fiercely opposed.

Tepco said on Tuesday it had suspended a trouble-plagued system used to clean radiation-tainted water, but on Wednesday the spokesperson said part of its Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) will likely resume operation on Thursday.
Read more on:    tepco  |  japan  |  japan earthquake

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.