September 11, 2022
TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (Okuma-cho and Futaba-cho, Fukushima Prefecture) may be unable to operate its waste treatment facilities next April when its storage facilities fill up with waste generated during the purification process of contaminated water. While TEPCO is preparing to discharge the treated water into the ocean, it has been sloppy in its waste management. The contaminated water treatment could be delayed. (Kenta Onozawa)
 The storage space may become tight because of the muddy waste generated by the ALPS (Advanced Land Disposal System), which removes radioactive materials other than tritium. The waste is stored in containers called “HICs” at a yard on the south side of the site. The plan is to dilute the water after treatment with a large amount of seawater and discharge it into the ocean.
 As of August, the HIC yard was 96% full. TEPCO estimates that it will be full by the end of April next year if operations continue at the current level.
 If the storage space runs out, ALPS will no longer be able to operate, and water that has been reduced in radioactive cesium and strontium by the decontamination facility prior to ALPS treatment will continue to accumulate. This insufficiently purified water is stored in a separate group of tanks from the treated water, which is subject to discharge into the ocean. The risk of leakage is much higher than that of treated water.
 TEPCO plans to renovate the HIC yard to create additional storage space for about one year, aiming to start operation at about the same time the yard fills up. However, the renovation work was originally supposed to be completed in March of this year. The process has been delayed due to a review of the seismic design and other factors, and it is uncertain whether the project will continue to proceed as TEPCO had envisioned.
 TEPCO initially planned to start operation of a facility capable of disposing of the HIC by the end of this fiscal year. It did not construct a new yard, anticipating that the number of HICs would decrease after the facility went into operation. However, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) pointed out design flaws, delaying the scheduled operation by more than two years. Lack of contingency plans led to fears of a crunch.
 A spokesperson for TEPCO explained to an interview, “We have some prospect of measures to control the occurrence of HICs, and we do not think we will run out of storage capacity, but we will consider adding a storage facility in case of a tight situation.

HIC HIC is an abbreviation for high-performance container. It is a cylindrical polyethylene container 1.5 meters in diameter, 1.8 meters high, and approximately 1 centimeter thick. It is used to store muddy waste generated during the purification process in the Advanced Lockheed Martin (ALPS). The waste is stored in a concrete box in an outdoor storage area on the south side of the site. The storage capacity is for 4,192 units, and as of August 4 of this year, 4,027 units had been placed there.