As Tokyo Electric pumps thousands of metric tons of water through the wrecked Fukushima station to cool its melted cores, the tainted run-off was found to be leaking into groundwater and the ocean. The approach to cooling and decommissioning the station will need to change and include technologies developed outside of Japan if the cleanup is to succeed, said Vladimir Asmolov, first deputy director general of Rosenergoatom, the state-owned Russian nuclear utility.
[Vladimir Asmolov, first deputy director general of Rosenergoatom, is seen in this 2007 photo. “It was clear for a long time that Tepco was not adequately coping with the situation,” Asmolov said. “It looks like Tepco management were the last to realize this,” he said. “Japan has the technologies to do this, but they lacked a system to deal with this kind of situation.” ]
Japan’s nuclear watchdog members, including Nuclear Regulation Authority members in radiation protection suits, inspect contaminated water tanks at the Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture on Aug. 23, 2013. Source: Jiji Press/AFP/Getty Images
“In our globalized nuclear industry we don’t have national accidents, they are all international,” Asmolov said. Since Japan’s new government took over in December, talks on cooperating between the two countries on the Fukushima cleanup have turned “positive” and Russia is ready to offer its assistance, he said by phone from Moscow last week.
After 29 months of trying to contain radiation from Fukushima’s molten atomic cores, Tokyo Electric said last week it will reach out for international expertise in handling the crisis. The water leaks alone have so far sent more than 100 times the annual norms of radioactive elements into the ocean, raising concern it will enter the food chain through fish.
‘Last to Realize’
The latest leak of 300 metric tons of irradiated water prompted Japan’s nuclear regulator to label the incident “serious” and question Tokyo Electric’s ability to deal with the crisis, echoing comments made by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier this month. Zengo Aizawa, a vice president at Tepco, as the Tokyo-based utility is known, made the call for help at a press briefing in Japan’s capital on Aug. 21.
In addition to the leak, Tepco today announced that one of its two filters treating contaminated water was taken offline on Aug. 8 because of corrosion and will be shut until at least next month. The lost layer of filtration adds to the contamination levels of water in the storage tanks.
Excerpts in Japanese: ロシア：福島第一原発汚染水問題に協力を申し出 via Bloomberg.co.jp