Added 5/28: “Tepco dumps groundwater near Fukushima into Pacific ocean” from Radio Australia
” TOKYO, May 21 (Xinhua) — Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the stricken Daiichi nuclear power station in Fukushima Prefecture, said Wednesday it had started dumping hundreds of tons of radioactive groundwater from its plant into the Pacific Ocean.
TEPCO said the levels of radioactivity of the groundwater being released were within legal radiation safety limits and will follow the World Health Organizations guidelines that groundwater for such releases should contain less than 1 becquerel per liter of cesium-134 and cesium-137, 5 becquerels of beta ray-emitting radioactive material.
The move to dump the huge amount of toxic water was unavoidable, TEPCO said, due to the massive volumes of contaminated water building up and failing to be decontaminated and maintained inside the complex.
The embattled utility has been struggling to deal with a number of problems and human errors at the leaking plant, since its reactors’ key cooling functions were knocked out by a huge earthquake-triggered tsunami in March 2011.
The utility is still grappling to deal with the daily accumulation of around 400 tons of highly radioactive water, with the same volume of groundwater seeping into the basement of reactor buildings where it’s being mixed with the reactors’ highly toxic coolant water.
Following protracted negotiations, local fishermen finally agreed to the release of the contaminated water into the Pacific Wednesday, once they’d been convinced that the contaminated water would not adversely affect their business, but the agreement came as the utility had to deal with a fresh headache involving the breakdown of a water treatment system for the highly contaminated water held in thousands of makeshift tanks.
A water treatment facility called the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS), installed to remove the most dangerous nuclides, was completely shut down again this week and has not been fully operational since it was installed nearly two years ago, causing the manager of TEPCO to state that the repeated leaks and technical malfunctions at the plant have been a constant ” embarrassment”.
TEPCO has pumped a total of 560 tons of groundwater from wells dug in the mountainside of the plant with the operation beginning on April 9 and finishing five days later, and having confirmed that the radiation levels have met legal criteria and will release into the ocean Wednesday using a bypass system that funnels the contaminated water towards the Pacific.
Similarly, around 790 tons of groundwater collected last year will be also be released imminently, although TEPCO officials have declined to specify exactly when.
TEPCO has confirmed, however, that it plans to dump around 100 tons a day of groundwater from the crippled plant into the ocean, once the bypass system goes fully operational, although concerns remain rife as the trouble-stricken utility has again come under fire Wednesday, following the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reporting that based on official unreleased documents, some 90 percent of all workers, including managers duty-bound to deal with emergencies, refused orders and fled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, at a critical juncture when the disaster was unfolding in March 2011.
“Amid fears that a reactor containment vessel had been destroyed, around 650, or 90 percent, of the approximately 720 workers at the plant left the premises despite being told to remain at the site by the plant’s manager, Masao Yoshida,” the newspaper said.
TEPCO, despite receiving a massive injection of capital to bring the crisis in Fukushima under control at the beginning of this year, has also been slammed by Nuclear Regulation Authority ( NRA) Chairman Shunichi Tanaka for incorrectly measuring levels of radioactive materials in groundwater at its Daiichi facility.
Tanaka has said that even though three years has passed since the reactor meltdowns at the plant, TEPCO is still “utterly inept” when it comes to taking accurate readings of radioactivity at and around its facilities and “lacks a basic understanding of measuring and handling radiation.” … ”
Nikkei Asian Review:
” FUKUSHIMA, Japan (Kyodo) — Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Wednesday dumped into the Pacific Ocean hundreds of tons of groundwater collected at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex after having confirmed that its radiation level met safety guidelines.
Under a so-called groundwater bypass system, the groundwater was pumped out without approaching the heavily contaminated area of the complex site. By repeating the pumping and dumping, TEPCO aims to slow the pace of highly radioactive water accumulating at the plant. …
… TEPCO pumped a total of about 560 tons of groundwater from wells dug in the mountainside of the plant between April 9 and 14, after confirming that the radiation levels satisfied the criteria before the planned release. The utility spent more than 2 hours on Wednesday discharging the water that had been kept in a tank.
TEPCO plans to gradually increase the volume of groundwater pumped from the wells. If the groundwater bypass system goes into full operation, water discharge may take place around once a week, but the pace could change depending on how much water has to be pumped. … ”
Read a similar article from The Guardian.