Tepco prepares to start pumping tainted water from No. 3

Kyodo

Highly radioactive water flooding the Fukushima power plant’s No. 3 reactor will be transferred to a waste-disposal facility Tuesday to prevent it from tainting the environment, Tepco said Monday.

The move is essential to preventing the excess water from contaminating the environment and to repairing the reactor, which was damaged by the March 11 quake and tsunami.

The water, which was sprayed into the building earlier to prevent the reactor’s core from melting down, is preventing workers from entering and may also be leaking into the adjacent turbine building and other places.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has been injecting more water into the reactor to keep its containment vessel cool because the temperature recently started rising. This is generating even more toxic water, company officials said.

The beleaguered utility plans to pump out 4,000 tons of water from the No. 3 turbine building and secure it in a nuclear waste disposal facility by hose.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said it has already approved Tepco’s plan.

The highly radioactive water in the turbine building has been rising by around 2 cm a day and may be leaking into the Pacific Ocean, forcing Tepco to scramble to remove it.

The temperature in the No. 3 reactor has been rising since the beginning of the month and topped 200 degrees on May 7, compared with around 90 on May 1, Tepco said.

The temperature fell to 141.3 on Monday morning, but Tepco is concerned by skepticism about whether any water in fact remains in the reactor, company officials said.