AREVA Hails ‘success’ of decontamination unit in attempt to profit off of spent nuclear fuel from Fukushima

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TOKYO (Kyodo) — The new chief of French nuclear giant Areva said Thursday that the company is ready to contribute to the process of handling spent nuclear fuel left inside the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi power plant, while hailing the performance of its water decontamination system being used to stabilize the plant.

[quote]”We are ready to respond to all kinds of requests from (plant operator) Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the Japanese government to make the Fukushima site safe,” Luc Oursel, who is visiting Japan for the first time as chief executive officer of Areva, told a press conference in Tokyo through an interpreter.[/quote]

Oursel stressed that the system was activated swiftly, although such work usually takes one year, and that it has been able to decontaminate water in a successful manner.

“I believe we can provide our know-how for the collection and management of the spent nuclear fuel inside the storage pools of the Fukushima plant,” he added.

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Asked about a plan by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. to take a stake in Areva, Oursel acknowledged that while there have been talks on the matter, they stalled because the French government, Areva’s major shareholder, was reluctant about the idea.

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Source: english.kyodonews.jp, via Nuclear Crisis – News – Kyodo News

AREVA Desalination Unit Performance at Fukushima Daiichi

TEPCO has complained that the equipment is not able to process the amounts boasted in the user manuals.

Fukushima workers have also noted that the user manuals are incomplete, and only in French. source

His tweets from July 1, and he talks about the contaminated water treatment system, AREVA’s in particular:

続き①:今日も昼間は動いてなかったよ。作業員のミスって報道だけどオイラは管理側のミスだって思うんだけど…。特に一期工事のアレバの装置は他の現場で使用してたのを解体して持って来たんだけど施工は日本人でやってるんだ。
The system was stopped during the day today [July 1]. It was reported as “due to a worker’s mistake”, but I think it’s the management mistake. In particular, AREVA’s system [that was built] in the 1st phase of construction came from the active processing plant somewhere, which they dismantled and brought to Fukushima. But it was set up here by the Japanese.

続き②:アレバの装置はイタリア製で図面もイタリア語とフランス語が混じって書いてあるからわかりづらいし質問しても構造や細かい所は国家機密か企業秘密かしらないが教えてくれないんだ。購入した東電でさえわかんない事多いみたい。
AREVA’s system was made in Italy. The drawings are in Italian and French, so it’s hard to understand. When we ask questions on the structure in detail, they don’t answer, because of national security or corporate security or whatever. TEPCO, who paid for the system, doesn’t seem to know much either.

二期工事も始まってますがあまりにも作業の振り分けがおかしくて現場が混乱してるのが現状なのです。
The second phase of construction has started, but the reality is that we are very confused because the jobs are not being assigned properly.

When TEPCO attempted to contact AREVA for assistance with the manuals and equipment, they were not immediately aided.

In fact the French Nuclear Company claimed it could not assist and disclose information as it was a “National Security Interest”

福島第一原発では、7日午前8時すぎに汚染水の浄化設備のうち、フランス製の装置で汚染水に処理用の薬剤を流し込むポンプが停止したうえに予備のポンプも動かず、浄化設備全体の運転が停止しました。
The pump for the chemicals for the treatment for the contaminated water stopped in the French-made system [AREVA] stopped at 8AM on August 7. The backup pump failed to start, and the entire treatment system shut down.

東京電力では、薬剤の粘りけが強いためにポンプに負荷がかかって停止したものとみて、薬剤を流す力を調整したうえで午後3時半すぎに運転を再開しましたが、予備のポンプが動かなかった理由は分かっていません。
According to TEPCO, the viscosity of the chemicals were too strong, putting too much pressure on the pump. TEPCO adjusted the flow of the chemicals and restarted the pump at 3:30PM. The reason why the backup pump didn’t work is still unknown.

From Ex-SKF:Snippets that I pick up from Twitter and some Japanese magazine articles interviewing anonymous high-level managers at Fukushima I Nuke Plant indicate that the workers have almost given up on having Kurion and AREVA units run without frequent problems, and are pinning their hope on Toshiba’s SARRY. But they do say they are impressed with AREVA’s unit’s ability to decontaminate. When it is working, that is.

From NHK Japanese (12:30PM JST 8/7/2011):

不安定な状態が続いている東京電力福島第一原子力発電所の汚染水の浄化設備で、7日朝、汚染水を処理するためのポンプが止まったうえに予備のポンプも動かないなどトラブルが相次ぎ、再び運転を停止しています。
The contaminated water treatment system at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant has been unstable, but on August 7 morning, the system was stopped after the pumps stopped and the backup pump failed.

さらに、午前8時すぎにはフランス製の別の装置でも汚染水に処理用の薬品を混ぜるポンプが停止したうえに予備のポンプも動かず、汚染水の浄化設備のすべての運転が停止しました。
…then about 8AM, a pump that feeds chemicals to the water stopped in the French-made [AREVA’s] system, and the backup pump also failed. The entire water treatment system has stopped.

From TEPCO: Via Ex-SKF (July 14, 2011)

Unlike the previous leaks (from the same place) where the PVC joint cracked (1st leak on July 9) and where the cast-iron joint corroded (2nd leak on July 12), TEPCO says that the PVC joint completely broke off.

The company doesn’t know when the water treatment system can be re-started, as the repair work needs to be done in a very high radiation environment (100 to 150 millisieverts/hour) and each worker can remain there only for 1 to 2 minutes.

TEPCO’s handout for the press for July 13

 Another pipe with similar coupling as the one that leaked on Saturday and Tuesday leaked, causing the contaminated water treatment system to stop.

The leak was found at at 1:34PM JST on July 13 near the coupler that joins the hose that injects chemical to AREVA’s coagulation/coprecipitation unit.

The cause of the leak is being investigated, and it is not known when the system will be re-started. The cooling of the reactors using the treated water continues regardless.

TEPCO's Matsumoto said in the press conference on July 12 that they didn't think the cast iron coupler would corrode because it had metal plating. About 10 liters of the contaminated water and the chemical had leaked before the system was stopped.

Here’s before and after photos from TEPCO on July 12:

From Yomiuri Shinbun (12:17PM 7/12/2011):

東京電力は12日、福島第一原子力発電所の汚染水処理システムが午前8時51分に緊急停止したと発表した。
TEPCO announced on July 12 that the contaminated water treatment system stopped at 8:51AM at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.
システムのうち、仏アレバ社の沈殿・除去装置で薬液を注入する配管の接続部付近から水漏れが見つかったためで、原因を調査中。システム再開の見通しは立っていない。原子炉への注水は継続している。
A leak was found near the coupler that joins the hose that injects chemical to AREVA’s coagulation/coprecipitation unit. The cause of the leak is being investigated, and it is not known when the system will be re-started. The cooling of the reactors using the treated water continues regardless.

東電によると、同40分ごろ、作業員が水漏れに気づき、手動停止した。10日に薬液混じりの汚染水約50リットルが漏れ出すトラブルがあった場所の近くで、この時はポリ塩化ビニール製の継ぎ目を金属製のものと交換、13時間後に復旧させた。今回の水漏れとの関係は不明。
According to TEPCO, a worker noticed the leak at about 8:40AM, and manually stopped the system. The leak was near the spot where 50 liters of contaminated water with chemical had leaked on July 10. The PVC coupler had been replaced with a metal one, and the system was re-started after 13 hours. It is not known if today’s leak has anything to do with the previous leak nearby.

Information from TEPCO’s evening press conference on July 10:

  • The water treatment system was restarted at 5:40PM, about 12 hours after the leak was found.
  • 50 liters of liquid that leaked was both the chemical to be used in the coprecipitation unit AND the contaminated water. It was mostly the contaminated water.
  • Density of contamination: 5,500 becquerels/cubic centimeter of radioactive cesium.
  • The PVC coupler that connected the metal pipe and the hose cracked, causing the leak.
  • Connecting a metal pipe with a PVC hose by a PVC coupler was not a normal practice.
  • The PVC coupler has been replaced with a metal coupler.
  • It’s not known whether TEPCO also replaced the similar connections in AREVA’s unit.

Tweet from a journalist who regularly attends TEPCO’s press conference:

午前4時53分頃、福島第一原子力発電所の水処理装置凝集沈殿設備において、薬液注入ラインから薬液の漏えいが確認されたため、同装置を停止−−という東電のメール。
According to the email from TEPCO, at 4:53AM today, at the coprecipitation and coagulation unit of the contaminated water treatment system at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, a leak was found at the line that feeds the chemicals. The operation of the unit was stopped.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (1:06PM JST 6/21/2011):

 東京電力は21日、福島第一原子力発電所で、再稼働に向け通水試験を行っていた汚染水処理システムが午前7時20分頃に緊急停止したと発表した。

TEPCO announced on June 21 that the water treatment system for highly contaminated water at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant had an emergency shut down at 7:20AM. TEPCO was running the test run in order to resume the full-scale operation.

システムのうち仏アレバ社の沈殿・除去装置で、汚染水を流す主系統につながる薬液注入ラインのポンプ2台が自動停止した。東電はポンプを調整し同日午後、全体の通水試験を再開した。試運転が本格化した10日以降、トラブルや故障でシステムが停止したのは6回目。

The problem was at AREVA’s subsystem for decontamination. Two pumps for the chemical injection line that connects to the main line for the contaminated water were shut down automatically. TEPCO adjusted the pumps, and the test run resumed in the afternoon. It was the 6th time since the test run started on June 10 that the system had stopped because of troubles and malfunctions.

不具合は除染装置につながるポンプで見つかった。薬剤注入ラインに希釈用の水を供給しているが、流す水の量が多すぎて停止したとみられる。東電では流量を調整する。システムは複数の装置の組み合わせで、ア社の装置は薬液や砂を混ぜてセシウムやストロンチウムを沈殿、除去する。

The pumps feed water to the chemical injection line for dilution. They seem to have stopped when too much water went through. TEPCO will adjust the amount of water. The water treatment system is a combination of multiple subsystems, and AREVA’s subsystem mixes chemicals and silica to remove cesium and strontium.

NHK World English: (6/16/2011):

The operator of the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant has begun testing a complex system to decontaminate highly radioactive wastewater.

More than 110,000 tons of the toxic wastewater has accumulated at the plant after months of using water to cool overheating nuclear fuel. The water is hampering work to bring the facility under control.

TEPCO is struggling to find storage space for the water, which is accumulating at a rate of 500 tons daily.

The treatment system combines 4 devices, including those made by French and US makers.

The French-made device uses a special chemical agent to treat the contaminated water. The US-made device is designed to remove radioactive cesium. Tuesday’s testing showed it reduced cesium by one-3,000th.

TEPCO plans to reduce the level of radioactive substances to one-10,000th before moving decontaminated water to temporary tanks.

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