Tepco needs public cash to dig deep wall

Radioactive flow to sea 300 tons daily; Suga says utility can't halt it


The public must help fund Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s effort to freeze the soil around the reactor buildings at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, creating a barrier to prevent more groundwater from becoming radioactive, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday.

It was revealed the same day that 300 tons of tainted water is flowing to the Pacific daily from the stricken plant.

“There is no precedent in the world to create a water-shielding wall with frozen soil on such a large scale (as planned now at the Fukushima complex). To build that, I think the state has to move a step further to support its realization,” Suga told reporters.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is considering including the costs in the fiscal 2014 budget request. If approved, it will be the first time the government has provided money to Tepco to help it contain the groundwater mixing with radioactive water in the reactor buildings.

The government has so far allocated taxpayer money for research and development related to reactor decommissioning at the Fukushima plant, which suffered three meltdowns in the aftermath of the massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

A 1.4-km barrier of frozen soil will be created by sinking pipes around the buildings housing reactors 1 to 4 and then running coolant through them. According to major contractor Kajima Corp., which proposed the project, construction is expected to cost ¥30 billion to ¥40 billion.

At the end of May, a government panel adopted the project as the best way to reduce radioactive groundwater at the plant. METI Minister Toshimitsu Motegi instructed Tepco to go ahead with the project.

About 400 tons of groundwater seep into the reactor buildings every day and mix with toxic water that has been used to cool the crippled reactors.

On Wednesday, the Natural Resources and Energy Agency said about 300 tons of radioactive water per day is flowing out to the sea.

Dealing with the massive accumulation of radioactive water at the plant has remained a concern for Tepco since the nuclear crisis began.

Most recently, the utility admitted highly radioactive water is escaping into the Pacific from the plant and it is trying to prevent the spread of contamination.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, a fisheries cooperative in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, decided to postpone a plan to resume test fishing from September due to the radioactive flow into the sea.

Masakazu Yabuki, head of the co-op, said delaying the operation ensures consumers won’t be sold unsafe marine products.

  • Vance

    What a scam Tepco has going and the government is falling for it.

  • Pete Chiarizio

    Really? That’s the best they can do? That’s never going to work. Groundwater moves horizontally AND vertically AND seeks its own level AND has a constant heat content. Why even waste resources and effort on a plan that will not work? For show?

  • Klaus D. Orth

    Another great tax-payer spending plan!
    How much more will be wasted?
    And what did TEPCO do with all the access money they made over the years?
    Spent on bonuses and increasing salaries?

  • Paldo

    Haha! How can it work? If the contaminated water is held within the frozen curtain, it has nowhere to go! Either the water will go deeper and deeper than the curtain, or spill to the top and overflow.

  • Franz Pichler

    It is difficult to comprehend why the Japanese public is not totally outraged by the Fukushima issue. I’m not an expert but it should be clear that since both the government and TEPCO have been misleading everybody for the last two years (I don’t want to say outright lying) we’re in an incredible mess. According to nuclear expert (go to youtube and watch the very good documentary on nuclear waste deep sea dumping in the cost of Europe “Nuclear Waste Disposal Documentary”) “what goes into the sea comes back to land” – which means that all the nuclear waste cocktail that has been flowing (not leaking!) into the pacific ocean is gonna come back to land and when it comes back Japan will have a hell of a time. It is beyond believer why the Japanese government is not phasing out asap nuclear energy on this earthquake prone land! They should switch on the remaining 50 nuclear reactors to produce enough energy for the next 10~15 years and work strongly and steadily towards a no nuclear era. Step by step they could be switched off and decommissioned. The costs would be enormous but if done openly the Japanese public would finally understand how expensive this form of energy is. But knowing the Japanese government this will never happen! Lies will continue to flow until there’s no way out and disasters struck. Japan is a country of fishermen, it accounts for 5% off the global fish catch so how can they be so blind and destroy the livelihood of so many Japanese…. totally crazy

  • Digger

    Tepco needs to go away. And some of their upper management should go to jail.

  • @dongiuj

    That’s right, increase my already over charged TAX and give it to a disaster of a company. OH, YOU’RE WELCOME! Can’t believe this is all blatantly happening without the consent of the TAX payers.

  • huckleberry

    I think for people here to be outraged we need to reframe the discussion: No more sushi!

  • Selchuk Driss

    Let the nuclear fanboys pay for it!