23 Janvier 2015
Jan. 23, 2015 - Updated 08:31 UTC+1
Tokyo Electric Power Company says it will not finish decontaminating water at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant by the end of March as promised.
The firm's President Naomi Hirose reported the delay to the head of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, Takayuki Ueda, on Friday.
Hirose said he's very sorry that the firm cannot treat the water as planned. He added that the matter makes residents very anxious.
Ueda said the delay is deplorable because the firm's president promised Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to carry out the treatment on time.
The amount of contaminated water stored at the plant increases by 350 tons a day, as more underground water leaks into reactor buildings.
The firm had promised the government that it would remove from the water radioactive substances such as strontium and cesium. But the plant's water treatment system has shut down repeatedly due to operational problems. The company says it will decide on a new timetable for the treatment by mid-March.
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Friday it will fail to fulfill its commitment to process by the end of March all highly radioactive water stored at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant due mainly to equipment troubles, causing further delay in the decommissioning process.
Currently, some 280,000 tons of water needing treatment is stored in tanks, while around 350 tons of toxic water is newly generated every day in the process of cooling reactors that suffered meltdowns in the 2011 earthquake-tsunami disaster.
When Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the plant in September 2013, TEPCO President Naomi Hirose pledged that the company would filter all the water kept in tanks by March 31, 2015 to drastically reduce the amount of radioactive materials it contains, but the process has been delayed due to a series of problems with its key water treatment facilities.
Hirose on Friday met with Takayuki Ueda, commissioner of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, and said the company now expects to finish treating the water by the end of May at the latest, but will try to complete the cleanup as soon as possible.
"We took the promise with the prime minister very seriously but we cannot fulfill our commitment. The problem of toxic water is the biggest source of concern for the local residents and we are extremely sorry to be unable to keep our word," Hirose said during the meeting.
The water treatment system, which is called the Advanced Liquid Processing System or ALPS, is said to be capable of removing 62 types of radioactive materials except tritium. TEPCO has introduced three such facilities, including one with enhanced performance, but all of them are still running on a test basis.
The buildup of toxic water has proven to be a major challenge facing workers engaged in the plant decommissioning work, while it has been a source of concern with regard to the further spread of pollution. In August 2013, TEPCO said some 300 tons of tainted water leaked from the tanks, followed by leakage of some 100 tons in February last year.
The delay in the plan also comes as TEPCO has halted all decommissioning work at the Fukushima Daiichi complex since Wednesday after two workers died on Tuesday in separate accidents at the Daiichi site and the nearby Daini plant.