Within the grounds of the ravaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant sits a million-tonne headache for the plant’s operators and Japan’s authorities: tank after tank of water contaminated with radioactive parts.
What to do with the big quantity of water, which grows by round 150 tonnes a day, is a thorny query, with controversy surrounding a long-standing proposal to discharge it into the ocean, after intensive decontamination.
The water comes from a number of totally different sources: some is used for cooling on the plant, which suffered a meltdown after it was hit by a tsunami triggered by an enormous earthquake in March 2011.
Groundwater that seeps into the plant day by day, together with rainwater, add to the issue.
A thousand, towering tanks have now changed lots of the cherry bushes that when dotted the plant’s floor.
Every can maintain 1,200 tonnes, and most of them are already full.
“We are going to construct extra on the positioning till the tip of 2020, and we expect all of the tanks shall be full by across the summer time of 2022,” stated Junichi Matsumoto, an official with the unit of plant operator TEPCO in control of dismantling the positioning.
TEPCO has been fighting the issue for years, taking varied measures to restrict the quantity of groundwater getting into the positioning.
There may be additionally an in depth pumping and filtration system, that every day brings up tonnes of newly contaminated water and filters out as lots of the radioactive parts as attainable.
The hangar the place the decontamination system runs is designated “Zone Y”—a hazard zone requiring particular protections.
All these getting into should put on elaborate safety: a full physique go well with, three layers of socks, three layers of gloves, a double cap topped by a helmet, a vest with a pocket carrying a dosimeter, a full-face respirator masks and particular sneakers.
A lot of the outfit has to burned after use.
“The equipment filters include radionuclides, so it’s important to be very protected right here, identical to with the buildings the place the reactors are,” defined TEPCO danger communicator Katsutoshi Oyama.
TEPCO has been filtering newly contaminated water for years, however a lot of it must undergo the method once more as a result of early variations of the filtration course of didn’t absolutely take away some harmful radioactive parts, together with strontium 90.
The present course of is more practical, eradicating or decreasing round 60 radionuclides to ranges accepted by the Worldwide Atomic Vitality Company (IAEA) for water being discharged.
However there’s one that is still, which can’t be eliminated with the present know-how: tritium.
Tritium is of course current within the surroundings, and has additionally been discharged in its synthetic type into the surroundings by the nuclear trade world wide.
There may be little proof that it causes hurt to people besides in very excessive concentrations and the IAEA argues that correctly filtered Fukushima water might be diluted with seawater after which safely launched into the ocean with out inflicting environmental issues.
‘Completely in opposition to it’
However these assurances are of little consolation to many within the area, notably Fukushima’s fishing trade which, like native farmers, has suffered from the skin notion that meals from the area is unsafe.
Kyoichi Kamiyama, director of the radioactivity analysis division on the regional authorities’s Fisheries and Marine Science Analysis Centre, factors out that native fishermen are nonetheless struggling eight years after the catastrophe.
“Discharging into the ocean? I am completely in opposition to it,” he instructed AFP.
On the nationwide authorities degree, the view is extra sanguine.
“We need to research the way to minimise the injury (from a possible discharge) to the area’s popularity and Fukushima merchandise,” an Business Ministry official stated.
The federal government is delicate to fears that folks inside Japan and additional afield will view any discharge as sending radioactive waste into the ocean.
No choices are doubtless within the near-term, with the nation delicate to the worldwide highlight that may fall on Japan because it hosts the Olympic Video games subsequent 12 months.
Environmentalists are additionally resolutely against any discharge into the ocean, and Greenpeace argues that TEPCO can not trusted to correctly decontaminate the water.
The answer, stated Greenpeace senior nuclear specialist Shaun Burnie, “finally can solely be long-term storage and processing.”
Japan nonetheless weighing dump of Fukushima radioactive water into ocean
© 2019 AFP
At Fukushima plant, a million-tonne headache: radioactive water (2019, October 5)
retrieved 5 October 2019
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