Fukushima’s nuclear water will be released via an underwater tunnel


TOKYO (AP) – The operator of the wreckage at the Fukushima nuclear power plant said on Wednesday that it plans to build an underwater tunnel so that massive amounts of treated but still radioactive water can be discharged into the ocean about 1 kilometer from the power station. to avoid interference with local fishing.

The operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, said it hopes to start releasing water in the spring of 2023. TEPCO says hundreds of the plant’s storage tanks are to be removed to make room for the facilities needed to dismantle the plant. the power plant.

A water dump project official, Junichi Matsumoto, said TEPCO will build the underwater tunnel by drilling through bedrock into the seabed near its No.5 reactor, which survived the meltdowns of the plant, in order to minimize possible underground contamination or leakage of radioactive underground water into the tunnel.

Increasing amounts of radioactive water have been stored in around 1,000 reservoirs at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant since 2011, when a massive earthquake and tsunami damaged three reactors and their cooling water was contaminated and started. to flee. The factory says the tanks will reach capacity at the end of next year.

The government decided in April to begin discharging water, after further treatment and dilution, into the Pacific Ocean in spring 2023 in accordance with safety standards set by regulators. The idea was fiercely opposed by fishermen, residents and neighboring countries, including China and South Korea.

Discharge at sea using a pipeline enclosed inside a concrete tunnel is an attempt to minimize the “damage to reputation” that would occur if the contaminated water was discharged close to life. marine off the coast of Fukushima.

According to the plan released on Wednesday, the water will be discharged to a depth of about 12 meters (40 feet) below the ocean’s surface, said Matsumoto, who works for Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Co., a company created. by TEPCO.

A pipeline locked in an underwater tunnel is safer than simply laying a pipe under the seabed in the event of a major earthquake or tsunami, he told a press conference.

TEPCO plans to dilute the contaminated water with large amounts of seawater to reduce the concentration of radioactive material below allowable limits. Plant workers must sample the water before it is released and examine daily seawater samples from several locations. Japan has obtained the agreement of the International Atomic Energy Agency to cooperate in the sampling and monitoring of water.

Controlled release, with an annual cap on radioactive material, will continue for about 30 years, or until the plant’s decommissioning is complete, Matsumoto said.

TEPCO said it plans to ask the Nuclear Regulatory Authority for a safety review of the tunnel plan after securing support from local fishermen and other residents. He hopes to start construction so that the landfill can begin in the spring of 2023.

The government on Tuesday adopted an interim plan that includes a fund to cushion the impact of any negative discharge reports and compensate fisheries and other local businesses for any damage.

Japanese officials said releasing into the ocean was the most realistic option to drain the water, which they said is necessary for the plant to be decommissioned. Government and TEPCO officials claim that tritium, which is not harmful in small amounts, cannot be removed from water, but all other isotopes selected for processing can be reduced to safe levels before d ‘to be released.

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