29 Juillet 2013
July 29, 2013
TEPCO ordered to drain contaminated tunnel water
Japan's nuclear regulator has ordered the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to remove radioactive wastewater from underground tunnels.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority told Tokyo Electric Power Company on Monday it must stop the water from leaking into the sea.
High levels of radioactivity have been detected in wells in the plant site and an adjacent port since May. TEPCO admitted last week that contaminated water is leaking into the sea from the site.
The regulators pointed out a possible leak of highly-radioactive wastewater in the plant's underground tunnels through gravel laid on the floor.
The contaminated water is believed to be coming from turbine buildings connected to the tunnels. The turbine buildings are highly-contaminated as a huge amount of water has been used to cool nuclear fuel in nearby reactor buildings.
The operator says it will start injecting chemicals into the gravel layers to block the water.
The company says it will decontaminate the water in the tunnels from September by circulating it through a purifier. From next April it says it will drain the tunnels.
But TEPCO has yet to come up with measures to stop the original leak from the turbine building. It also has to find a site to store the drained water.