15 Août 2013
August 14, 2013
TEPCO begins pumping up contaminated groundwater
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant began pumping up radioactive groundwater on a larger scale on Thursday to minimize leakage into the ocean.
The government says some 300 tons of contaminated water may be flowing into the sea every day.
Tokyo Electric Power Company has created an underground wall by injecting soil-hardening chemicals into the ground near the most heavily contaminated reactors -- No.1 and No.2 -- to prevent tainted water from leaking. It caused the level of groundwater to continue to rise.
TEPCO began pumping up the contaminated water as an emergency measure on Friday.
The firm has also been installing nearly 30 pipes, each 5 meters long, into the ground on the near side of the underground barrier to increase the volume of water that it can draw up.
TEPCO says after it completes the installation of the pipes on Sunday, it plans to pump up about 60 tons of water a day. The removed water is to be ultimately stored in tanks above ground in the plant's compound.
TEPCO says after it started to pump up water from a small well that it dug near the barrier, the level of groundwater at a nearby observation point dropped by about 50 centimeters.
The problem of the leaking water has yet to be fundamentally resolved, as 35 tons of groundwater is projected to escape every day even after work to solidify the ground from the No.1 to No.4 reactors is completed.
FUKUSHIMA -- Local fishery operators in Fukushima and neighboring prefectures are becoming even more furious and anxious as Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) started pumping up contaminated groundwater at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant to prevent the further spread of toxic water into the Pacific Ocean.
It has been more than two years and five months since the outbreak of the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power station. But fishery workers, who have devoted their efforts to resuming their operations, became even more irate about TEPCO's belated acknowledgement that contaminated water has been flowing into the ocean, with some of them saying, "Harmful rumors will be aggravated," and "All our efforts will be for nothing." So, how long will they have to wait before being able to fish without concerns?
Fishery operators in Fukushima Prefecture still refrain voluntarily from coastal fishing. The Soma-Futaba Fisheries Cooperative Association, which launched fishery operations on a trial basis in June 2012, decided on Aug. 9 to postpone its plan to resume test-fishing in September. Many members of the association expressed their indignation, saying things like, "Harmful rumors will be reinforced." The association has taken about a year to expand the scope of its test-fishing to a total of 16 fish species for shipment. Association chairman Hiroyuki Sato, 57, said, "It is a matter of the greatest regret for those fishery operators who have continued to make efforts."
The Iwaki City Fishery Cooperative Association has also decided to postpone its first test-fishing which was originally scheduled to begin in September. Yasuo Yoshida, a 46-year-old member of the association, cautioned the government against considering pumping up ground water and releasing it into the Pacific Ocean before it reaches the premises of crippled reactors and is contaminated with radioactive substances. He said, "Our efforts will be wasted. If the government releases the water into the ocean under its own responsibility, the government should also be responsible enough to take measures against harmful rumors."
Whitebait was recently being unloaded at the Otsu fishing port in the city of Kitaibaraki, Ibaraki Prefecture, about 80 kilometers south of the damaged Fukushima nuclear power complex. The captain of a fishing boat said, "The trading price is one-tenth of what it was before the (nuclear) accident." On the problem of contaminated water flowing into the ocean on top of other worries, 63-year-old fisherman Eiji Watanabe said, "I want to tell TEPCO 'Don't lie to us!'" He said that because he believes that TEPCO had known that the contaminated water was flowing into the ocean for quite some time, he wants to say, "Don't try to fool us!"
"We want the government to respond in a responsible manner," said Kunio Shirai, a 67-year-old fisherman who resumed fishing last autumn from the Arahama fishing port in Watari, Miyagi Prefecture, about 70 kilometers north of the Fukushima nuclear power station. As he has a new boat built with the help of a government subsidy after losing his old one to tsunami, he harbors mixed feelings. "We have to wait and see for now," he said.