Nuclear watchdog takes Tepco to task for delay in leakage report — The Asahi Shimbun; Tepco sorry for failing to disclose latest radioactive water leak — The Japan Times; NHK World and Arirang News videos

The Asahi Shimbun: ” The nation’s nuclear watchdog body slammed Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Feb. 27 over its failure to disclose information on the leakage of radioactive rainwater into the sea from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Plant operator TEPCO disclosed many months later that a drainage ditch near the wrecked reactors showed high concentrations of radiation and rainwater had leaked into the sea outside the enclosed harbor.

“TEPCO must reflect seriously (on the delay). We are concerned that the company’s efforts to secure a safe environment will be unable to obtain trust (from the people),” said NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka during a meeting in Tokyo that TEPCO President Naomi Hirose attended.

Hirose apologized profusely, saying, “We are extremely sorry for adding to the anxieties of fishermen and local citizens.”

This latest setback prompted local fishermen to dig in their heels over plans by TEPCO to release treated water. On Feb. 27, the Soma-Futaba fishery cooperative association and the Iwaki fishery cooperative association agreed to put talks on hold with the utility with regard to its “subdrain plan,” a key measure to reduce contaminated water in the nuclear plant.

TEPCO plans to pump up contaminated groundwater that has accumulated in the plant compound and remove radioactive materials so it can release the water into the sea. The utility has been seeking approval from local fishermen of the plan.

TEPCO became aware more than a year ago that the concentration of radioactive materials in the water flowing in the drainage ditch was high. The utility explained the situation to an NRA working group meeting held in January 2014.

[In February 2014,] the NRA instructed TEPCO to take countermeasures by the end of March 2015. At that time, however, the cause of the high concentration was unclear.

In April 2014, TEPCO started taking regular measurements. It suspected that the contaminated water was draining from slopes near reactor buildings. The utility covered the slopes and cleaned the drainage ditch. However, the concentration level did not decline. It reported the failure to determine the cause to the NRA in December.

Meanwhile, TEPCO continued to conceal details, including the fact that the concentration became high whenever it rained. It was only on Feb. 24 this year that it provided a detailed report to the NRA.

TEPCO explained accumulated rainwater on the roof of a service entrance for large equipment that connects to the No. 2 reactor building was the cause of the high concentration.

The compound of the nuclear plant is contaminated with radioactive materials due to the March 2011 accident there. That explains the presence of contaminated rainwater that accumulates in drainage ditches and elsewhere on the site. However, TEPCO had decided long ago there was no need to monitor rainwater for radioactive materials.

Water that flows in drainage ditches around tanks storing contaminated water was able to drain directly into the harbor, which has been sealed off from the open sea. Alarm devices were installed there, but TEPCO did not take special measures for the drainage ditch where the highest concentration of radioactive materials that emit beta rays was about 1,500 becquerels per liter when it rained.

Even on days when it was not raining, the concentration level was about 100 becquerels.

In drawing up the subdrain plan, TEPCO explained to fishermen it would reduce the concentration level of contaminated water to less than three becquerels before releasing it into the sea.

In 2013, contaminated water leaked from faulty tanks one after another. At that time, concentration levels were more than 10,000 times higher than the latest incidence of leaks. Because of that, a TEPCO official said, “We put too low a priority on the situation.”

Yoichi Miyazawa, minister of economy, trade and industry, accused TEPCO of dealing inappropriately with the situation.

“TEPCO should have paid more attention to the issue,” he said.

An NRA official handling the matter said, “We should have pushed TEPCO much more strongly to tackle the issue.” ”

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The Japan Times: ” Tokyo Electric Power Co. admitted Thursday that its latest problem with radioactive water has shattered the trust it was building in Fukushima, especially among fishermen, and that the decommissioning of the Fukushima No. 1 plant might be delayed.

“To make progress with the decommissioning effort and solve the tainted-water issue, the trust of the people in Fukushima is the most important thing. We’ve been working with that in mind, but unfortunately, we have damaged that trust this time,” said Naohiro Masuda, president of Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Co., the internal unit in charge of scrapping the meltdown-hit plant.

“Due to the damaged trust, all of the schedules for the decommissioning tasks could be delayed, but we’d like to rebuild trust as soon as possible,” so Tepco can improve the plant’s condition faster, said Masuda, who peppered the news conference with repeated apologies.

One task expected to be affected by the surge in radiation detected in the water draining into the sea, is the pumping up of slightly tainted groundwater from wells around the reactor buildings. Because about 300 tons of clean groundwater seep into the reactor buildings each day before mingling with the tainted cooling water, Tepco is hoping to use the pumping maneuver to reduce the amount of groundwater and treat it so it can be dumped into the sea. The utility, however, needs the fishermen’s approval to dump it — a task the latest problem seems to have endangered.

This is not to be confused with the so-called groundwater bypass, which involves intercepting clean groundwater before it arrives at the plant and pumping it into the ocean. This operation is already underway.

Tepco also plans to drop more sandbags of zeolite, an adsorbent, in the drainage system to reduce the level of contamination by the end of March.

The utility said the source of the contamination is the roof of the No. 2 reactor building, which was damaged by an explosion during the crisis and remains heavily contaminated. Since runoff from the roof flows into the drainage system, radiation levels soar when it rains, data shows.

The roof has pools of water containing 29,400 becquerels of cesium per liter and 52,000 becquerels of other beta ray-emitting substances, such as toxic strontium-90, which causes bone cancer.

Tepco also has detected some 1,050 becquerels of cesium and 1,500 becquerels of beta ray-emitting materials per liter of water in an outlet leading to the sea.

Masuda said Tepco had no intention of hiding the information and did not think it was as urgent as reporting on its other decommissioning tasks, such as managing the hundreds of water storage tanks and removing tainted water from the underground trenches connected to the reactor buildings.

He vowed that Tepco will make efforts to keenly discern what information Fukushima people are interested in and swiftly make it available.

On Tuesday, the beleaguered utility said it knew that the abnormally toxic rainwater was leaking from the drainage ditch into the seas since last spring. It said the lack of visible impact in seawater samples taken about 1 km from the drainage outlet gave it reason to believe it was not necessary to disclose the information. ”

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NHK World: “Nuclear Watch: Fukushima investigates R2 leakage + New leaking in R4 + Fisherman angry”

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Asia Heartbeat, Arirang News: “Tokyo under fire for alleged cover-up of radioactive water” – watch video

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