Tokyo Electric Power Co. intends to begin pumping up highly contaminated water accumulating in the basements of buildings at its wrecked Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant by the end of March.
TEPCO disclosed its strategy Sept. 28 at a review meeting with the Nuclear Regulation Authority, the government’s nuclear watchdog.
In response, the NRA urged the utility to provide a detailed road map for the project.
Removing the huge volume of radioactive water in the reactor, turbine and other buildings has posed an urgent challenge for TEPCO.
The NRA pressed it to take action as soon as possible, pointing out that the contaminated water in the buildings’ basements is a likely reason flowing groundwater also gets polluted.
The NRA is also concerned that the contaminated water in the basements might leak into the sea if the nuclear complex is struck by another powerful tsunami.
TEPCO estimates that 68,000 tons of tainted water exists below the reactor and turbine buildings, as well as other structures.
Particularly worrisome is the estimated 2,000 tons of highly radioactive water in the condensers of the No. 1 through No. 3 turbine buildings, which accounts for 80 percent of the radioactive materials in all of the tainted water.
The contaminated water was transferred to the condensers in the immediate aftermath of the March 2011 triple meltdown.
TEPCO plans to finish transferring the water in the condensers by the first half of the next fiscal year and all of the contaminated water in the basements by 2020.