Fukushima nuclear plant out of space for radioactive water

Fukushima nuclear plant out of space for radioactive water
This Sept. 4, 2017, aerial file photo shows Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant reactors, bottom from right, Unit 1, Unit 2 and Unit 3, in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan. The utility company operating Fukushima's tsunami-wrecked nuclear power plant said Friday, Aug. 9, 2019 it will run out of space for tanks to store massive amounts of treated but still contaminated water in three years, adding pressure for the government and the public to reach consensus on what to do with the water. (Daisuke Suzuki/Kyodo News via AP, File)

The utility company operating Fukushima's tsunami-devastated nuclear power plant said Friday it will run out of space to store massive amounts of contaminated water in three years, adding pressure on the government and the public to reach a consensus on what to do with it.

Three reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant suffered meltdowns in a massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan.

Radioactive water has leaked from the damaged reactors and mixed with groundwater and rainwater at the plant. The water is treated but remains slightly radioactive and is stored in large tanks.

The plant has accumulated more than 1 million tons of water in nearly 1,000 tanks. Its operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., says it plans to build more tanks but can accommodate only up to 1.37 million tons, which it will reach in the summer of 2022.

What to do after that is a big question.

Nearly 8 1/2 years since the accident, officials have yet to agree on what to do with the radioactive water. A government-commissioned panel has picked five alternatives, including the controlled release of the water into the Pacific Ocean, which nuclear experts, including members of the International Atomic Energy Agency, say is the only realistic option. Fishermen and residents, however, strongly oppose the proposal, saying the release would be suicide for Fukushima's fishing and agriculture.

Experts say the tanks pose flooding and radiation risks and hamper decommissioning efforts at the plant. TEPCO and government officials plan to start removing the melted fuel in 2021, and want to free up part of the complex currently occupied with tanks to build safe storage facilities for melted debris and other contaminants that will come out.

Fukushima nuclear plant out of space for radioactive water
This Jan. 25, 2019, photo shows water tanks containing contaminated water that has been treated at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan. The utility company operating Fukushima's tsunami-wrecked nuclear power plant said Friday, Aug. 9, 2019 it will run out of space for tanks to store massive amounts of treated but still contaminated water in three years, adding pressure for the government and the public to reach consensus on what to do with the water. (Kyodo News via AP)

In addition to four other options including underground injection and vaporization, the panel on Friday added long-term storage as a sixth option to consider.

Several members of the panel urged TEPCO to consider securing additional land to build more tanks in case a consensus cannot be reached relatively soon.

TEPCO spokesman Junichi Matsumoto said contaminants from the decommissioning work should stay in the plant complex. He said long-term storage would gradually reduce the radiation because of its half-life, but would delay decommissioning work because the necessary facilities cannot be built until the tanks are removed.

Matsumoto declined to specify the deadline for a decision on what to do with the water, but said he hopes to see the government lead public debate.

Some experts, however, said the priority should be the feelings of the residents, not the progress of decommissioning.

"When we talk about Fukushima's reconstruction, the question is if we should prioritize the decommissioning at the expense of Fukushima people's lives," said Naoya Sekiya, a University of Tokyo professor of disaster social science. "The issue is not just about science."


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Aug 09, 2019
the water is not radioactive, the water contains particulates that are radioactive, and if it is actually radioactive water, Tritium water, extract the tritium and life is good.

Aug 09, 2019
the water is not radioactive, the water contains particulates that are radioactive, and if it is actually radioactive water, Tritium water, extract the tritium and life is good.


The tritium isn't a problem. It has a half-life of 12 years, so it just goes away (turns to helium) after a while. Diluted with enough seawater, it's simply a non-issue.

The main problem is Cesium, which comes from contact with the reactor rubble and spent fuel. It bio-accumulates in fish. It's unfeasible to filter so much water for such a tiny amount of materials, so the only real option is controlled release and dilution. It sediments on the bottom of the sea after couple years.

This is again a case of damn if you do... since the greenies keep stalling the point and demanding impossibilities. All the while more radioisotopes leach into the water and the more damage is caused by the inevitable controlled release. If you don't get rid of the water, you can't dismantle the reactors.

Aug 09, 2019
Of course, the fishermen will complain for not being able to drag-net around the area for the foreseeable future...

...which is a practice that is highly damaging to the seabed ecology anyhow, so this is kinda like the Chernobyl effect - when people go away, nature starts to thrive.

Aug 09, 2019
The tritium isn't a problem.


Caesium may be removed mechanically and or chemically. The water may be boiled off and the residue vitrified and stacked somewhere private.

Aug 09, 2019
Other than a lot of energy used, what problems would there be with boiling the water, leaving the contaminants behind.

Aug 09, 2019
It's impossible to completely capture all radiation and some of it will escape in steam. Furthermore, what's left after the boiling is still highly radioactive, if able to be stored in a smaller container. They could run it through some filters first after storing it for a long time, say 12 years, and then toss the filters in the box with whatever the water boils down to. Then bury it all in concrete for another 100 years.

Aug 09, 2019
Dump it all in the ocean FFS, won't do the slightest bit of harm.

Aug 10, 2019
And then they are still trying to push destructive nuclear technology all over the world, what an ecological disaster nuclear technology is !

Aug 10, 2019
Caesium may be removed mechanically and or chemically. The water may be boiled off and the residue vitrified and stacked somewhere private.


That's an awful lot of water to boil.

The energy required to separate it would run enough fossil fuels to pump just as much radioactive particles into the atmosphere than just diluting the water into the sea.

Aug 10, 2019
The concentration of Cs-137 measured in the leaking water is around 2000 Bq kg−1 while the specific radioactivity of Cs-137 is 3.2 × 10^12 Bq/g so there's about 0.625 grams of cesium for every 1000 metric tons of water.

It would take very close to 1 MWh of energy to separate 1 gram by boiling. The trouble is that Caesium reacts with water to form a hydroxide, which is corrosive enough that when concentrated it eats easily through glass. The non-radioactive variety is used for etching silicon, because it has a preference for p-type silicon.

It's also exceedingly hygroscopic, meaning that it has the same property as concentrated lye: it pulls water from the air so strongly that it forms a puddle and dissolves into it (hydroxides are very good desiccants) You'd end up with a highly radioactive gunk that likes to turn back to liquid whenever in contact with any humidity, and once it does turn to liquid it becomes so corrosive it eats through most materials.

Aug 10, 2019
'The results presented here demonstrate that the apparatus can reduce radioactivity levels to below the detection limit in applied tap water containing either 300 Bq/kg of 137Cs or 150 Bq/kg of 125I. The apparatus had a removal efficiency of over 90% for all concentration ranges of radio–cesium and –iodine tested. The results showing efficient radionuclide removability'
https://www.ncbi....4100768/
the removal of ¹³⁴Cs and ¹³⁷Cs in pond water by coagulation increased markedly when ¹³⁴Cs and ¹³⁷Cs were mixed with sediment 24 h before coagulation.

Aug 10, 2019
Perhaps electrolysis of the water releasing hydrogen and oxygen would be a way of reducing the liquid volume and provide at least some energy return

Aug 11, 2019
Zeolite centrifuging and plasma vapor deposition later, ingots

Aug 12, 2019
I'm currently developing a regenerative fiber that ion exchanges Cs-134 out of solutions. Lots of other solutions to the nuclear waste problem are been developed here too. We just need time

Aug 15, 2019
Special blends of Zeolites will work and leave the water clean and free of Radionuclides and 1 gram has 24 M2 of surface area and will absorb a lot of Cesium and other Radionuclides particles which also exist from the explosion. The big engineering companies need to stop delaying or stopping smaller companies from offering assistance??????

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