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.


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.


Source:, 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:

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.

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.

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”

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.

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):

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.

…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):

TEPCO announced on July 12 that the contaminated water treatment system stopped at 8:51AM at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.
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.

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:

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):


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.


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.


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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