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Friday, 12 April 2013

Tepco Faces Decision to Dump Radioactive Water in Pacific

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By Tsuyoshi Inajima - Apr 12, 2013 12:17 PM GMT+1000

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501)’s discovery of leaks in water storage pits at the wrecked Fukushima atomic station raises the risk the utility will be forced to dump radioactive water in the Pacific Ocean.
Leaks were found in three of seven pits in the past week, reducing the options for moving contaminated water from basements of reactor buildings. Water in the basements is from the months after the earthquake and tsunami disabled the plant two years ago, when disaster teams used hose pipes and pumps to try and cool the reactors.
Naomi Hirose, president of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco), center, and the company's employees, wearing protective suits and masks, inspect an underground water storage pit at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant in Fukushima, Japan in this handout photograph taken on April 10, 2013. Source: Tokyo Electric Power Co. via Bloomberg
While the company has since built a makeshift sealed cooling system, underground water is breaching basement walls at a rate of about 400 tons a day and becoming contaminated, according to Tepco’s estimate. With Japan’s rainy season approaching, contaminated water levels are likely to increase at the plant 220 kilometers (137 miles) northeast of Tokyo.
Reducing radiation levels in the water and pouring it into the sea is one of two options the utility has, said Kazuhiko Kudo, a research professor of nuclear engineering at Kyushu University. The other option is “to keep building above-ground storage tanks,” said Kudo. That’s a fight Tepco can’t win without stopping the underground water pouring into the basements, Kudo said.
“It is like a well. No matter how much water you draw from a well, underground water keeps seeping into the well,” said Kudo, who also served on a safety advisory board for the Fukushima plant after the disaster for the now defunct Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

Not Ruled Out

Officials at the utility known as Tepco, including President Naomi Hirose, have said the company won’t “easily” release radiated water into the ocean, indicating it’s not ruling out the possibility if it runs out of storage.
The utility plans to have 450,000 tons of above-ground tank capacity by the end of September and 700,000 tons by mid-2015, Japan’s trade ministry said in a statement today.
“It’s obvious Tepco cannot keep storing water forever as it increases by 400 tons a day,” said Hideyuki Ban, co-director of the antinuclear group Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center. That’s why the company won’t rule out discharge into the sea, Ban said in a telephone interview.
Tepco has had leaks of radioactive water at the plant before. In April last year, it said as much as 12 tons of radioactive water had leaked from a pipe and may have poured into the sea. That followed a leak at the same pipeline 11 days earlier.
Radiation Amount?
Yesterday, Tepco reported another leak of radiated water, this time from a pipe.
Reports differ on how much radiation escaped from the Fukushima plant, with Tepco in May last year estimating it was about 17 percent of that released from the 1986 nuclear accident at Chernobyl.
In October 2011, the Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics journal estimated the radiation released at about 42 percent of Chernobyl and that most of it fell into the North Pacific Ocean. In the same month, the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety, which is funded by the French government, said the Fukushima plant was responsible for the biggest discharge of radioactive material into the ocean in history.
Next month, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, or UNSCEAR, is expected to issue the first global and independent assessment of the Fukushima nuclear accident, including how much radiation was released and where it went, according to its website.
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and how long has these been going on?....
suggestions, and rumours of the 'radioactive bladders' stored in the ground being dumped into the ocean.....

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