Fukushima plant measures to freeze tunnels
The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will take additional measures to accelerate the behind-schedule work of freezing radiation-contaminated water in underground tunnels.
Water used to cool melted-down fuel in damaged reactors has leaked out of reactor buildings into underground utility tunnels. The tainted runoff, mixed with ground water, is believed to be seeping into the ground and ending up in the sea.
The work is designed to prevent that outcome for the tainted water. But the tunnels have yet to be fully frozen nearly 3 months into the project.
On Wednesday, the Tokyo Electric Power Company briefed members of the Nuclear Regulation Authority about the additional measures.
These include installing more pipes that carry refrigerants in and out of the tunnels and adding ice in the tunnels by late next month. TEPCO will also use sandbags to fill sections where the pipes cannot be installed.
Regulatory officials criticized TEPCO’s original plan for being too optimistic. Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa instructed TEPCO to take the necessary measures quickly. He told it to prepare devices with extra capacity and freeze the water inside the tunnels perfectly.
A separate and larger project is now underway at the plant to freeze soil and create a wall of ice around the 4 reactor buildings. This is to prevent groundwater from coming into the damaged buildings and getting tainted with radioactivity.
But that work could also be delayed due to a suspension in freezing the water in the tunnels, because part of the work areas overlap.