by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) June 23, 2011
Despite technical glitches, Japan is confident it can decontaminate vast amounts of radioactive water at its stricken Fukushima nuclear plant, Tokyo's point man on the accident said Thursday.
Emergency crews have struggled to dispose of more than 100,000 tons of highly contaminated runoff water from over three months of reactor cooling operations since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami hit the plant.
With the onset of the summer rainy season this week, and the plant's basements, pools and ditches almost full, workers are racing against time to filter and recycle the water and avoid renewed spills into the Pacific Ocean.
Goshi Hosono, Prime Minister Naoto Kan's aide on emergency operations at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, stressed that a water decontamination system was working again after a series of glitches.
Even as the system, built with the help of US and French companies, is working below full capacity now, he said, "we are processing more water than the amount of newly contaminated water. Risks of overflows have fallen."
Speaking to foreign media in Tokyo, he added that under usual circumstances, "a system like that should take a year to build. But we had to build it in two months, given the extraordinary situation."
Embattled plant operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) brought the system online on June 17, but it has been stopped twice since then because of technical troubles, including low performance and the need to replace parts.
The treatment system was designed to remove radioactive materials as well as oil and sea salt from about 1,200 tonnes of water a day, using equipment from France's Areva group and Kurion Inc of the United States.
As of early Thursday afternoon, roughly 2,200 tons of water had been treated, according to Areva.
"The two systems complement each other. We believe the choices we made are correct," Hosono said, but he added that tough working conditions at the plant made the system's smooth operation more difficult.
Getting rid of the radioactive water will allow workers to start longer-term repair work to the cooling systems at the plant, which TEPCO aims to bring to a state of stable "cold shutdown" by January.
Speaking of the wider radiation impact, Hosono said: "I can say: rest assured that there will not be significant negative impacts from the accident, except for the areas where residents had to evacuate."
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TEPCO books more than $1.5 bn in additional losses
Tokyo (AFP) June 22, 2011
Japan's TEPCO said Wednesday it had booked an extra $1.1 billion loss to compensate victims of the Fukushima crisis, and would set aside another $473 million to bring the crippled plant under control. In May Tokyo Electric Power Co. reported a $15 billion annual net loss for the year ended March, the biggest ever for a non-financial Japanese firm, on costs related to the world's worst nuclea ... read more
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