Tokyo Electric Power Co. will use a truck-mounted filtration system to extract strontium from water stored at the damaged Fukushima No. 1 power plant as the utility struggles to overcome technical problems with its existing water-processing facility.
Tepco has signed a contract with Kurion Inc. to remove strontium from more than 340,000 metric tons of radioactive water stored at the wrecked plant using the mobile filtration system, the U.S.-based firm said in a statement Monday.
The system will be used to improve site safety while testing of the ALPS processing facility continues. ALPS is designed to remove strontium and 61 other isotopes from cooling and other water tainted by contact with the plant’s melted fuel rods. Strontium has been linked to bone cancer.
“Strontium is the greatest emitter of radiation impacting site dose-rates,” Kurion founder and President John Raymont said in the statement. “So reducing strontium in tank water stored on-site will significantly improve worker safety and reduces the risk to the surrounding environment.”
Two of ALPS’s three units, each capable of processing 250 tons of water per day, were taken offline last month after high levels of calcium were found in the water leaving the system. The third resumed operation on May 23 after two months offline because of problems with filters and gaskets deteriorating from radiation exposure.
Tepco hopes to soon have the facility fully operational, it said in a May 29 statement. The system, made by Toshiba Corp., filters out all remaining contaminants but tritium after a separate unit removes most of the cesium.
Kurion plans to demonstrate its tritium-removal techniques to the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, which is involved in procuring equipment and technology for the nuclear cleanup, Raymont said in an email.
Kurion’s strontium-removal contract requires it to “rapidly” establish a system that can process 300 tons per day, according to the statement from the company, which expects filtration to begin this summer. The Nuclear Regulation Authority must approve the system before it can be activated, Tepco spokesman Tatsuhiro Yamagishi said.
Financial terms of the deal won’t be disclosed, Raymont said. Toshiba spokeswoman Midori Hata had no immediate comment on Tepco’s decision to adopt a strontium-filtration system separate from ALPS.