5 Janvier 2013
January 5, 2013
No solution to tainted water at Fukushima plant
Nearly 2 years have passed since a massive earthquake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
But since then, no drastic solution has yet been found to manage the plant's growing amounts of contaminated water.
Each day about 400 tons of underground water has been flowing into reactor buildings since a nuclear accident triggered by the disaster on March 11th, 2011. The water becomes contaminated with radioactive materials.
The tainted water needs to be safely managed after being rid of radioactive substances.
But the volume of the water is continuing to rise, increasing radiation levels at the plant. If it leaks outside, it could contaminate the environment.
The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, initially aimed to start operating a new water treatment facility last September.
It's designed to remove 62 kinds of radioactive elements from the contaminated water, including radioactive strontium, which could not have been removed before.
The facility has been already completed, but TEPCO is significantly delaying the start of its operation.
That's because containers to store radioactive waste from the facility were found to be of insufficient strength. The government is requiring Tokyo Electric to conduct additional tests and to strengthen the containers.
TEPCO says it wants the facility to begin operating as early as possible this year. But no clear date has yet been set.
The company plans to pump underground water to prevent it from flowing into reactor buildings. It will also install steel walls underground to block contaminated water from leaking into the sea.
TEPCO is also facing a series of problems with a currently operating treatment facility.
Glitches have frequently forced the utility to halt the facility. TEPCO also discovered contaminated water leaking from the facility.