Fukushima nuclear plant out of space for radioactive water


The utility company operating Fukushima's tsunami-devastated nuclear power plant said Friday it will run out of space to store massive amounts of contaminated water in three years, adding pressure on the government and the public to reach a consensus on what to do with it.

Three reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant suffered meltdowns in a massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan.

Radioactive water has leaked from the damaged reactors and mixed with groundwater and rainwater at the plant. The water is treated but remains slightly radioactive and is stored in large tanks.

The plant has accumulated more than 1 million tons of water in nearly 1,000 tanks. Its operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., says it plans to build more tanks but can accommodate only up to 1.37 million tons, which it will reach in the summer of 2022.

What to do after that is a big question.

Nearly 8 1/2 years since the accident, officials have yet to agree on what to do with the radioactive water. A government-commissioned panel has picked five alternatives, including the controlled release of the water into the Pacific Ocean, which nuclear experts, including members of the International Atomic Energy Agency, say is the only realistic option. Fishermen and residents, however, strongly oppose the proposal, saying the release would be suicide for Fukushima's fishing and agriculture.

Experts say the tanks pose flooding and radiation risks and hamper decommissioning efforts at the plant. TEPCO and government officials plan to start removing the melted fuel in 2021, and want to free up part of the complex currently occupied with tanks to build safe storage facilities for melted debris and other contaminants that will come out.

In addition to four other options including underground injection and vaporization, the panel on Friday added long-term storage as a sixth option to consider.

Several members of the panel urged TEPCO to consider securing additional land to build more tanks in case a consensus cannot be reached relatively soon.

TEPCO spokesman Junichi Matsumoto said contaminants from the decommissioning work should stay in the plant complex. He said long-term storage would gradually reduce the radiation because of its half-life, but would delay decommissioning work because the necessary facilities cannot be built until the tanks are removed.

Matsumoto declined to specify the deadline for a decision on what to do with the water, but said he hopes to see the government lead public debate.

Some experts, however, said the priority should be the feelings of the residents, not the progress of decommissioning.

"When we talk about Fukushima's reconstruction, the question is if we should prioritize the decommissioning at the expense of Fukushima people's lives," said Naoya Sekiya, a University of Tokyo professor of disaster social science. "The issue is not just about science."

© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

Well, what a surprise that is, NOT! They knew full well this was coming but, according to yesterday’s news, they have only just resumed talks on how to deal with it after an 8 month break. It’s quite obvious they just keep putting it off until they have no other option than to dump it in the ocean, which is the cheapest and easiest way of dealing with it. They’ve been sitting on this for over 8 years and have done nothing to prepare the inevitable. This is the second time this morning I will call Japan’s actions (inactions) absolutely despicable!

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I recall reading about how the the removal of melted fuel was to take place in 2020, but due to the very high risk, it was delayed until after the Olympics. I think the government and TEPCO should revisit this removal operation and be transparent about what it entails and the dangers it involves. Also, is the clean up crew going on a summer vacation during the Olympics? What kind of operations will they be conducting during the games? Not that it really matters since Abe promised the world that Fukushima was under control.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Yeah sure underground injection. What a not at all great idea. Anything else? Get your act straight! But this will probably never happen!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

But it's all absolutely under control, right, Shin-chan? Like you promised to the world?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I wish them all the best, I would not like to be the project manager on this project. So many stakeholders, none has any empathy for the other.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

No attempt to remove the corium or melted fuel will happen until the spent cooling pools 1-3 are emptied. TEPCO has started removing the fuel from the No3 cooling pool which could take two years.

Probably the No1 pool will follow that because the radiation inside the No2 reactor building is the highest and workers are unable to enter for any working time.

The waste water tanks are not built to withstand a powerful earthquake or even a tsunami like in 2011. The whole disaster site remains in a fragile state.

TEPCO have no idea where all the corium is, some may be outside of the containment vessels. They don't have a way to remove it, because any robot will fry from the radiation levels.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

When I read about Fukushima's nuclear plant I felt very disappointed.. Tepcos company you should prioritize the people who lives in Fukushima.. Specially the ..EVACUUES.. You should fulfill your pledges and obligations to US!

1 ( +2 / -1 )


are you an evacuee? Which town were you evacuated from? Have you been living in the temporary accommodation provided by the government.

What do you think of all the other people who lost their homes in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, like in Miyagi and Iwate? They didn't receive much support and had to paid for the replacement of their homes, cars and personal belongings.

Do you think they were treated less fairly than the evacuees from Fukushima?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

So why not fill the whole place up with lead, then concrete it just like the Russians did, and have done with it ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Chernobyl and Fukushima are two different types of nuclear disaster. At Chernobyl the reactor blew up sending the nuclear fuel skyhigh and up.

At Fukushima there were meltdowns leaving something like 400 tons of highly radioactive corium.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There were victims of the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, their families killed, their home destroyed or washed away. If they didn't have insurance, and the most didn't, then they were responsible for repairing their lives and even paying two mortgages or monthly payments for cars no longer owned.

The nuclear evacuee's were more fortunate to receive financial support from TEPCO and free accommodation for 8 years. TEPCO is also paying compensation to the nuclear victims even if their home was destroyed by the earthquake or tsunami.

The victims of Miyagi and Iwate received nothing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Overcrowding? If your city is covered in small houses, land is at a premium and you are out of space, you clear them away and build high-rise apartment blocks.

Fukushima Daiichi is dotted with thousands of small tanks. If they need land space, why do they not build fewer but much larger tanks?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There are going to be issues for hundreds if not thousands of years. How much greed and stupidity does it take to keep using the same technology en masse? What's it going to take to prevent the next Fukushima? Violence?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites