Friday, March 2, 2012

Tainted water still major problem at Fukushima nuke plant 1 year after meltdowns

As Japan prepares to mark the first anniversary of the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, the facility remains plagued with problems despite Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's declaration that the crisis has been brought under control.

In order to decommission reactors No. 1 through 4 at the crippled plant, it is imperative to improve the work environment by draining and decontaminating areas submerged in radioactive water as much as possible. The flow of ground water into these areas, however, means making such operations a reality is a long way off.

According to plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the amount of radioactive water at the plant, inclusive of treated water, has reached as much as some 200,000 cubic meters. The utility has managed to secure 165,000 cubic meters worth of temporary tanks and has been building tanks that can hold another 40,000 cubic meters of water, on top of a 4,000-cubic-meter underground "reservoir" being built. However, all of these facilities are expected to be full by this fall, making the utility's efforts look like a shoestring operation even almost a year after the onset of the nuclear crisis. Read More