Tepco Challenged By Increasing Radioactive Water

TEPCO challenged by increasing radioactive water

Tokyo Electric Power Company says it will be difficult to keep installing new storage tanks for processed radioactive water on the premises of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, due to lack of space.

Officials from TEPCO and the industry ministry announced on Thursday their views on how to handle the water.

The contaminated water from the crippled reactors has been treated, but still has some radioactive materials, mostly tritium which is difficult to remove.

Currently, some 1.16 million tons of treated water is being stored in storage tanks at the plant. About 170 tons are added to the total amount every day. TEPCO has nearly 1,000 tanks at the plant.

Last month, the power utility revealed that the tanks would become full in three years under the current plan.

Members of a government expert panel argued that the utility should be able to use vacant space inside or outside the plant's sites to install additional tanks.

However, TEPCO said on Thursday that it has a plan to build 10 facilities, needed for scrapping the plant, at the sites by the latter half of 2020s. The facilities include temporary storages for spent nuclear fuel and molten fuel from the plant's reactors. Other facilities will be used to store waste from dismantling work at the plant.

The company said it will have to delay construction from its initial schedule, if it prioritizes building new storage tanks for treated water.

About the proposal to install new tanks outside the plant's premises, industry ministry officials said it will also be difficult under the current situation. The ministry cites construction of other facilities there to store waste from decontamination work in the prefecture.

There are concerns among local residents over a plan to dilute tritium-containing water and release it into the sea and other natural environments. They worry this would aggravate harmful rumors.

The ministry has proposed five measures against such rumors, including provision of detailed information to locals and distribution businesses.

The issues will be discussed at the government expert panel on Friday.