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Fukushima operator says media getting story wrong via Straight.com

TEPCO says news reports confuse freezing-water project with recent “ice wall” undertaking

The operator of Japan’s damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), has issued a clarification regarding an earlier news release concerning efforts to freeze highly radioactive water at the site.

 The original June 16 bulletin detailed “difficulties that were encountered with an effort to freeze standing water” as part of TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi decommissioning project, which is expected to take decades.

Those problems amounted to a failure to freeze approximately 11,000 tonnes of contaminated standing water in trenches under two reactor buildings, a project that TEPCO started on April 28 this year.

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New water constantly coming in to site

Compounding that problem—which requires pumping out, treating, and storing the highly radioactive water on-site—is the incoming groundwater that constantly moves through the site on its way to the Pacific Ocean from surrounding higher ground.

TEPCO has said that it hopes to remove the standing water underneath the reactor buildings by the end of fiscal year 2014. The ice wall to deflect additional groundwater is expected to take about a year to complete.

At present there are more than 1,000 storage tanks on the contaminated site holding both treated and untreated water. TEPCO also recently undertook a water “bypass” program to pump uncontaminated water into the Pacific before it mixed with standing radioactive coolant water.

Many previous dumps of contaminated water in ocean

The company has also dumped “treated” water into the ocean and has admitted to several tank leaks, pump or equipment breakdowns, and breaches of containment walls in the past two years that have resulted in the release of hundreds of tonnes of radioactive water into the nearby saltwater.

In a separate June 18 report on the “situation of storage and treatment of accumulated water including highly concentrated radioactive materials at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station”, TEPCO stated that its forecasts are “subject to change” depending on the continuing operation of its radioactive-material treatment instruments and future rainfall.

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