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McCurry writes: "The buildup of toxic water is the most urgent problem facing workers at the plant, almost two years after the environment ministry said 300 tonnes of contaminated groundwater from Fukushima Daiichi was seeping into the ocean every day."

Fukushima Daiichi begins pumping groundwater into Pacific Tepco hails 'major milestone' in cleanup operation three years after earthquake and tsunami damaged reactors at nuclear plant. (photo: AP)
Fukushima Daiichi begins pumping groundwater into Pacific Tepco hails 'major milestone' in cleanup operation three years after earthquake and tsunami damaged reactors at nuclear plant. (photo: AP)

560 Tons of Radioactive Water Pumped into Pacific Ocean at Fukushima

By Justin McCurry, Guardian UK

21 May 14


Tepco hails 'major milestone' in cleanup operation three years after earthquake and tsunami damaged reactors at nuclear plant

he operator of the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has started pumping groundwater into the Pacific ocean in an attempt to manage the large volume of contaminated water at the site.

Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) said it had released 560 tonnes of groundwater pumped from 12 wells located upstream from the damaged reactors. The water had been temporarily stored in a tank so it could undergo safety checks before being released, the firm added.

The buildup of toxic water is the most urgent problem facing workers at the plant, almost two years after the environment ministry said 300 tonnes of contaminated groundwater from Fukushima Daiichi was seeping into the ocean every day.

The groundwater, which flows in from hills behind the plant, mixes with contaminated water used to cool melted fuel before ending up in the sea. Officials concede that decommissioning the reactors will be impossible until the water issue has been resolved.

The bypass system intercepts clean groundwater as it flows downhill toward the sea and reroutes it around the plant. It is expected to reduce the amount of water flowing into the reactor basements by up to 100 tonnes a day – a quarter – and relieve pressure on the storage tanks, which will soon reach their capacity.

But the system does not include the coolant water that becomes dangerously contaminated after it is pumped into the basements of three reactors that suffered meltdown after the plant was struck by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

That water will continue to be stored in more than 1,000 tanks at the site, while officials debate how to safely dispose of it. The problem has been compounded by frequent technical glitches afflicting the plant's water purification system.

Tepco and the government are also preparing to build an underground frozen wall around four reactors to block groundwater, although some experts doubt the technology will work on such a large scale. The utility is also building more tanks to increase storage capacity.

Dale Klein, a senior adviser to Tepco, recently warned the firm that it may have no choice but to eventually dump contaminated water into the Pacific.

The first groundwater release went ahead after Tepco assured local fishermen that levels of radioactive isotopes were far lower than those permitted in drinking water by the World Health Organisation.

Tepco described the move as a "major milestone", adding: "The water's quality is monitored regularly by independent third parties using safety and environmental standards more stringent than those set by Japanese law."

The release comes after a Japanese newspaper revealed that almost all of the workers who were at Fukushima Daiichi when a reactor building exploded in March 2011 panicked and fled, defying orders to remain at the site.

The small number of workers, along with firefighters, and soldiers – nicknamed the Fukushima 50 – who did stay behind, working in shifts around the clock to cool nuclear fuel, have been fêted for their heroics.

But the Asahi Shimbun, citing leaked transcripts of testimony from the plant's then manager, Masao Yoshida, revealed this week that of the 720 workers present when a reactor building exploded on 15 March, 650 fled to another power plant about six miles (10km) away. Yoshida died of cancer last July.

While the Fukushima cleanup continues, government plans to restart some nuclear reactors were in doubt on Wednesday when a court ordered the operator of a plant in western Japan not to put the facility back online, citing safety concerns.

In a rare victory for anti-nuclear campaigners, the court in Fukui prefecture said Kansai Electric Power should not restart two reactors at Oi nuclear power plant.

All of Japan's dozens of nuclear reactors are idle after being shut down for safety checks in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

"Plaintiffs have rarely won. This is right in the middle of the restart process … it could have very well have repercussions," said Aileen Mioko Smith, executive director of Green Action. Kansai Electric said it would appeal against the decision. your social media marketing partner


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+11 # theshift 33 2014-05-21 22:57
The Union of Concerned Scientists and the recommendations that they gave to the Nuclear "Regulatory" (change that to "recommendation s" for voluntary industry compliance)Comm ission just wrote a thorough insider text entitled Fukushima-A Nuclear Disaster. It goes into detail minute by minute re what happened in Japan as well as the chaos that was going on while scientists and experts watched satellite feeds here. Everyone needs to read this that wants to be informed and will be shocked regarding the national and international nuclear industry and what they have gotten away with. In the U.S. the Nuclear "Recommendation " Commission has been so purposely complicit with the industry it borders on criminal and will be if something ever happens on this continent.
+4 # angelfish 2014-05-22 00:23
It's just about time for everyone to bend over and kiss their Butts "Good-Bye". Ain't NOBODY in this Country gonna do a DAMNED thing about it. The ONLY thing they care about is destroying whatever legacy President Obama hoped to leave and destroying the Middle Class and poor working stiffs of this land. The dumb Bast*rds are TOO dumb to realize, that we have Poisoned this Earth SO badly that it will take the annihilation of Humankind before it can begin to recover. So sad and so DAMNED preventable! I have hope that it's EVER so much better over on the "other side". I look forward to meeting some of you there. :^)
0 # JJS 2014-05-23 17:31
It is time and there is nothing to be done, except for that butt kissing thing:P
The reality is we can't go back to "preventable". What's done is done.
I think that if there was a concerted effort to try to contain the "mess" it would just divert the resources we (as humans) will/may need to survive the next 100 years...... or less.
But don't panic, hahaha!
+5 # liteguy 2014-05-22 07:26
I won't knowingly eat any fish from the pacific...
also... great choice by the olympic committee. ..
+1 # John S. Browne 2014-05-22 11:09

I'm so glad and grateful that RSN doesn't let this matter die, and often has articles regarding it. Unfortunately, many of them, like this instant one, are MSM articles that are more what the industry claims rather than the real truth about just how extremely severe the Fukushima situation still is, effecting the entire Northern Hemisphere, but particularly North America, on an ongoing basis that has not abated or been ameliorated.

But at least RSN has some articles about the matter on a fairly regular basis. "Truthout", for instance, rarely has any articles addressing the issue; and, in the past, a little over, three years, they have had a total of but a very few articles on the subject. The same probably goes for most of the "progressive" news websites, if they've had any at all.

It is already said, since before the Fukushima disaster began occurring, which continues to this day, that one in two Americans will contract some form of cancer in their lifetimes. Now, with Fukushima, it's probably well over three in four, likely closely bordering on one in one.

+1 # John S. Browne 2014-05-23 00:34

Most people who contract cancer(s) die from them, at least eventually, or from some other cancer(s) as a result of the cancer treatments that they received for their original cancer(s); and/or the opportunistic infections that they contract as a result of the cancer(s); so, the increased numbers of those who contract cancer(s) as a result of Fukushima are all very likely to die, and in relative short order after being diagnosed.

Thus, Fukushima is an unmitigated disaster of untold proportions. And just wait until the next nuclear disasters happen.


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