At a press conference this week, a Vice President from TEPCO admitted that TEPCO was falling short of their goals to decommission the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and decontaminate the accumulating amounts of radioactive water and nuclear waste on-site.
Last month, a rat caused a power outage after it short-circuited a temporary switchboard which had been mounted on a truck. Last Friday the facility experienced another cooling failure. A few hours after the first announcement on Friday, TEPCO reported that massive amounts of highly contaminated water had leaked from underground pits several times the size of an Olympic swimming pool that the utility had dug and lined, after being unable to properly process or store the 400 tons of highly contaminated water that is generated every day cooling the reactors.
On Monday, officials from the Nuclear Regulation Authority asked Japan to determine the cause of the leaks and to rectify the problem as quickly as possible. Later, it would be determined that all 7 underground storage pits were leaking, and the utility was forced to create a new plan to move the contaminated water to above ground tanks, but as of yet has no long term solution to fundamentally solve the problem.
Nuclear Regulation Authority Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa told reporters that the NRA has agreed to allow TEPCO to continue using the underground pits for now, but did question the risk evaluation conducted by the utility. “Although we need more long-term plans, we have to tackle the most immediate problem first. TEPCO’s decommission process is a tightrope situation to begin with,” he said.
For now, the utilities only plan is to install more tanks and pump the water out of the pits into the new tanks as they finish them, but it will take months to transfer all of the highly contaminated water from the pits to the tanks. There is also concern as the contaminated water will need to be pumped a long distance and there have already been reported leaks during TEPCOs initial attempts to transfer small amounts of water from the pits which are leaking the most.
Investigators say oversight of TEPCO is too lax
Last year, the Japanese parliament commissioned a 10-member investigation panel into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Experts who served on the panel and investigated the nuclear disaster testified to a lower house nuclear committee on Monday for the first time since releasing their findings last year. They reported that the oversight of TEPCO is too lax and that the Nuclear Regulation Authority is “rubber-stamping” TEPCO’s work at the crippled plant.
Shuya Nomura, one of the expert panel members commented, “Many people worry if it’s a good idea to leave the plant up to TEPCO and the regulators. Regulators should demonstrate they can properly carry out a decades-long decommissioning process.”
Another member, Mitsuhiko Tanaka, a nuclear engineer, said regulators routinely approved work plans submitted by the utility. “They make a risk assessment, submit their plans to the government and they’re approved,” he said. “It’s the same old routine.”
Source: Las Vegas Sun