- A government panel is investigating ways to stop the waste water build-up at Fukushima Daiichi. The most talked-about method would be to “imbed” the outer walls of the turbine and reactor buildings for units #1 through #4. It is estimated that 400 tons of groundwater seeps into the building basements every day and mixes into the contaminated water. The current method of building more and more storage tanks for Cesium-stripped waters is under intense criticism due to recent underground reservoir leaks and fears that Tepco will eventually run out of space to erect more tanks. One possible solution concerns use of the “ALPS” filtering system that would remove all remaining isotopes except Tritium. However, political and social fears of Tritium’s weak radioactivity would probably keep the water release from happening. Antinuclear groups say they will take all action necessary to bar a release even if the Tritium were also removed because the water would have been previously radioactive and unacceptably “tainted”. (Kyodo News)
- Tokyo Electric Company is making filtered vents for their BWR containments. Tepco says they are developing their own equipment because outsourcing will take one to two years. The company believes they will shorten the manufacturing and installation period to six months and the total cost will be less if they do it themselves. Tepco is believed to be the only Japanese nuclear utility doing this in-house. The hardened, filtered vents requirement is expected to be part of the new nuclear regulations coming this summer. Tepco plans to have its first installation completed at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station this summer, perhaps in time to restart of the first upgraded unit this fall. Critics say they are not sure how Tepco will test their new venting technology. They are also skeptical of Tepco due to on-going Fukushima equipment issues at F. Daiichi. Even with the vent upgrade, it is uncertain that any of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units will be allowed to restart because of regulatory concerns that linger over nearby geologic anomalies. (Japan Times)
- Several Japanese utilities want to apply for nuke restart permission as soon as the new regulations are in effect. Kansai Electric Co. is looking to resume operations of Pressurized Water Reactor units #3 and 4 at the Takahama nuclear station. Kepco runs the two PWRs now in operation at their Oi station. The company wants the additional restarts in order to add a “stable supply of electricity” to their system. Kepco says they have taken necessary measures to meet the new rules, including construction of additional tsunami barriers at Takahama. Reactivation of the two units has been factored into the company’s upcoming plans to increase household electricity rates. (Japan Times) In addition, Kyushu Electric Co. is considering seeking permission to restart at least one PWR at Sendai station, and Shikoku Electric Co. may do the same with a PWR at Ikata station.
Radioactivity has been detected in the groundwater flowing beneath F. Daiichi. The concentrations are barely detectible, ranging from 0.03 to 0.048 Becquerels per milliliter. The miniscule isotopic levels have been found in 13 of the 22 new groundwater testing wells (piezometers) installed since the recent underground reservoir leaks have been detected. A piezometer is a casing-lined hole drilled in the ground to test various groundwater parameters. The detected radiological levels are similar to what is natural to many groundwater flows throughout the region. A trace of radioactive Strontium has been detected, but that is a commonly-found residual from above-ground nuclear weapon tests many decades ago. The radioactive concentrations are the same for the “wells” near the three problematic reservoirs as with reservoirs that are empty. Regardless, the Japanese Press keeps the uncertainty angle alive. A News on Japan headline reads, “Groundwater at No. 1 plant tainted”. Jiji Press says any “causal relationship” with the reservoir leaks is unknown and NHK World reports “…the detected radiation density is so low that it cannot determine whether it is linked to the recent leakages”. (Jiji Press; NHK World)