*Radioactive water pileup problem still festering at Fukushima: 1106 Tanks and counting — EnviroNews World News

(EnviroNews World News) A new photo released this week starkly demonstrates how severe the radioactive water storage crisis on the ground at Fukushima Daiichi really is. Published in The Asahi Shimbun, the aerial photo shows a scene resembling that of a “giant integrated circuit board” comprised of colored holding tanks, where nearly all available flat ground and parking lot space is now consumed by the pileup.

According to a count taken on February 12, 2016, there are now a total of 1,106 massive radioactive tanks onsite — and reports from the ground say the operator is fast running out of space.

The overseer of the facility, Tokyo Electric Power Company (a.k.a. TEPCO), has constructed the tanks in an effort to contain deadly radioactive water from leeching into the sea and surrounding environment, and the company has plans to construct 20 more tanks to house an additional 30,000 tons of radioactive water projected to be released throughout the remainder of 2016.

The Asahi Shimbun reports that since that majority of flat land is already consumed by storage tanks, TEPCO has no other choice than to build the new receptacles in the “narrow alleys between the huge containers.”

The pileup of radioactive water has been a festering problem at the crippled plant which is only five years into the cleanup and decommissioning phase — a process projected to take half-a-century or more.

TEPCO has already been forced to vomit massive amounts of isotope-laden water to the Pacific on several occasions — moves that have worried and outraged people around the world.

It is also important to note that TEPCO is attempting to decontaminate water, and has been dumping that H2O back into the ocean already. Of concern is that no technology exists to adequately remove the radioactive element tritium from water. So, even though the operator is removing certain isotopes, the water going back out to sea is still radioactive.

To few people’s surprise, Japanese officials are claiming the water is decontaminated to “safe” levels, while forgetting to mention that medical science has long ago firmly established there is no known safe amount of radiation to be exposed to — period. Even the smallest exposure can lead to cancer down the road.

The first of these massive dumps took place on September 14 of last year, when 850 tons of water was let loose back into the Pacific. That water contained 330 to 600 becquerels per liter of tritium according to TECPCO and a third party tester. Many additional releases of this nature are planned for the near future — a strategy intended to put a damper on the radioactive pileup.

TEPCO also faces another radioactive water problem. Groundwater has been making its way into and below the crumpled reactor buildings, and has in turn been leaking and leaching full-blown, plutonium and uranium-containing water into the Pacific on a continual basis since the onset.

TEPCO is still attempting to complete a frozen barrier of earth around the reactor buildings to prevent groundwater from flowing in and becoming contaminated — this, after an earlier attempt to create a frozen “ice wall” of seawater failed.

The plan recently received approval from Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority, and reports from the ground say TEPCO could start freezing earth around the reactor buildings as early as next month.

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*This article also contains a lot of good references to other articles. Check it out!

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Plant-based molecule may be key to cleanup of Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster — Phys.org

” A Virginia Tech professor is part of a team of scientists from Japan and the United States that may have discovered a way to remove radioactive cesium from the millions of gallons of contaminated water being held at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant following the 2011 disaster.

“Radioactive cesium is the major radioactive component from the reactor,” said Barry Goodell, professor of sustainable biomaterials in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment. “Researchers in Japan have been seeking better ways to selectively separate out and collect the cesium from the wastewater and from seawater where the radioactive material has leaked, but it has been a difficult challenge.”

The team’s discovery stemmed from their work with lignin, a component of plant cell walls that is a hugely abundant byproduct of pulp and paper production.

Yuichiro Otsuka, a researcher at the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute in Tsukuba, Japan, and Tomonori Sonoki, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Hirosaki University in Japan, have been working with Goodell on ways to use waste lignin to produce more useful “platform chemicals” that can be used as precursors for the production of biofuels and biopolymers (bioplastics).

Through a bacterial fermentation of lignin waste compounds, the team was able to produce a unique molecule known as PDC, which can be combined with other molecules, or polymerized, into a variety of useful bioplastic compounds. The team determined the process for making large amounts of PDC from several types of lignin from pulp mills.

Although the targeted PDC molecule was intended as a platform chemical for biopolymer production, a surprising finding by Otsuka while working in Goodell’s lab led to a discovery that may help clean up radioactive cesium.

“Cesium is a unique compound known as an alkali metal,” explained Goodell, who is also a faculty member in Virginia Tech’s Macromolecules and Interfaces Institute. “Metals like this can be removed from solutions if appropriate binding compounds can be identified, but finding an appropriate compound for the binding of cesium has been very difficult. The Japanese have been desperate to find an alkali metal binding compound that is specific to cesium.”

Because of the chemical structure of PDC, Otsuka surmised that it might also be able to bind certain alkali metals. In the lab, when the PDC compound was tested on a nonradioactive isotope of cesium, the scientists discovered that PDC is especially good at both binding to cesium and pulling it out of a solution in a manner so that it could be readily collected.

“When tests of the PDC were done with mixtures of other metal salts such as sodium chloride, the common table salt that is also the major salt in seawater, cesium was selectively bound by the PDC, allowing it to be pulled out of the solution for selective disposal,” Otsuka explained.

“This could be a finding of major importance for the cleanup of the Fukushima Daiichi reactor disaster,” he added.

Japanese researchers, including Masaya Nakamura, head of the Microbial Bioprocessing Section of the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, who previously did a sabbatical in Goodell’s lab, are now exploring how the PDC compound can be further scaled up and how it can be applied to wastewater in Japan contaminated with radioactive cesium. ”

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Fukushima operator to miss deadline on decontaminating water — Reuters

” (Reuters) – The operator of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co, said it would not be able to meet a self-imposed deadline to decontaminate water containing highly radioactive substances by the end of March.

The admission by the utility known as Tepco is another setback in its struggle to cope with the contaminated water, which is mostly contained in hastily constructed tanks.

Tepco President Naomi Hirose visited officials at the Nuclear Regulation Authority on Friday to report that the company would not be able to process all the contaminated water by the end of March as promised.

“I feel very sorry that I was not able to carry out my promise to process (the contaminated water),” Hirose said.

“At our current pace we will complete it by mid May,” he added.

Tepco has been fighting a daily battle against contaminated water since Fukushima was wrecked by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 and three reactors underwent meltdowns.

Water flushed over the wrecked reactors to keep them cool enough to prevent further radioactive releases is leaking into basements after contact with the melted uranium fuel.

The water mixes with groundwater that seeps into the basements, requiring more pumping, treatment and storage.

Missteps and leaks have dogged the efforts to contain the water, slowing down the overall decommissioning process, which is expected to take decades. ”

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