FUKUSHIMA – Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Monday asked regulators for permission to build a facility to dump radiation-tainted groundwater from the Fukushima No. 1 power plant into the sea after filtration, sources said.
Tepco filed the application with the Secretariat of the Nuclear Regulation Authority after briefing local officials on the plan. It wants to start pumping the filtered groundwater on a trial basis.
Tepco plans to lay pipes at the crippled power plant to direct the water to the compound’s seaport. Even after nearly all the radioactive contaminants have been removed, the water won’t be dumped into the Pacific until consent has been obtained from local authorities, the utility said.
In May, Tepco separately started a “groundwater bypass” project to reroute less risky groundwater from the land side of the reactors to the sea to prevent it from seeping into the radiation-contaminated facility.
Eventually, such water will be dumped into the ocean after checking contamination levels.
The latest move will for the first time dump water that has been contaminated from the core meltdowns of March 2011 into the sea. Tepco has not yet explained the full details of the dumping plan to local fishermen, who fear it will further mar the reputation of their catches.
Local fishermen have yet to be formally briefed on the Tepco plan but are likely to be unreceptive, for fear of raising even higher consumer concerns about marine products.
About 400 tons of groundwater are believed to be seeping into reactor buildings each day and mixing with toxic water generated in the process of cooling the reactors, which melted down in the nuclear disaster in 2011.
The new facility could cut the amount of toxic water to some 200 tons a day, utility sources said, noting that Tepco would remove almost all the radioactive materials before dumping the water.
Radioactive substances, such as tritium and cesium, have been detected in some water samples from the wells. Tepco says it aims to clean the water to a level that will not harm the environment. However, the water treatment facility cannot remove tritium.
There were 57 wells at the power plant before the nuclear disaster on March 11, 2011, which was triggered when a powerful earthquake and following tsunami crippled the seaside plant in Fukushima Prefecture. Most of the wells were damaged by the disaster. But Tepco restored 27 wells and dug 15 new ones to control the level of toxic water underground