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August 28, 2014

TEPCO to test-run second water treatment system


Aug. 28, 2014 - Updated 04:20 UTC+2

The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is preparing to test a new system for decontaminating radioactive wastewater.

Tokyo Electric Power Company installed a filtration system known as ALPS 17 months ago. But it has been forced to suspend operations on several occasions after discovering leaks in the equipment. It is still using the system on a trial basis.

Members of the Nuclear Regulation Authority on Wednesday approved a request to install the second system for trial from next month. They say TEPCO has put measures in place to prevent leaks.

TEPCO officials had expected ALPS to remove 62 kinds of radioactive material from wastewater. But they say it has so far failed to reduce 4 types of particles to sufficiently low levels.

They also say technical difficulties have made it hard to remove radioactive tritium.

The officials plan to eventually install a third decontaminator, which is a new version of ALPS. They hope to begin full-scale operation of all 3 systems in December.

They say that together, the systems would decontaminate up to 2,000 tons of wastewater a day. Experts will be waiting to see if TEPCO can operate them stably.

More ALPS equipment approved for use at Fukushima plant



Additional decontamination machines will be installed at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant to treat the hundreds of tons of radioactive groundwater collected at the facility daily, the Nuclear Regulation Authority said Aug. 27.

The multi-nuclide removal equipment, called ALPS (advanced liquid processing system), began operating in late March 2013 and has handled 127,000 tons of contaminated water to date. But continuing glitches are still limiting the system to trial runs.

Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the plant, intends to begin trial runs for the second set of ALPS from mid-September. When combined, the two systems will be able to manage twice the amount of contaminated water than before, or about 1,500 tons.

Approximately 400 tons of groundwater flows into the reactor buildings of the power plant every day, mixing with the highly contaminated water that cooled the nuclear fuel following the triple meltdown in 2011.

The ALPS was introduced to reduce the amount of radioactive materials in the contaminated groundwater. Because the system cannot completely eradicate radioactivity, the total amount of water that requires management remains the same, with or without the equipment.

However, the process minimizes risks of contamination if leaks or other accidents occur.

Along with the additional equipment, TEPCO plans to introduce an improved version of the system funded by the government in October.

As of Aug. 26, 367,000 tons of highly contaminated water sat in tanks placed inside plant grounds awaiting treatment.

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