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2013年7月28日 (日)

原発汚染水対策 東電だけに任せておけない

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 28, 2013
Govt must help TEPCO handle polluted water at Fukushima
原発汚染水対策 東電だけに任せておけない(7月27日付・読売社説)

Contaminated water was found to be leaking into the sea from the premises of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

However, the amount of radiation that has leaked is small and the detected density is at most about one-thirthieth of the limit set by national standards. The tainted water is said to remain within the port facility of the nuclear plant.

Even so, concern about harmful rumors regarding sea pollution has been spreading, focused on those involved in the fishery industry in Fukushima Prefecture.

TEPCO must make all-out efforts to stem the leakage.

As a countermeasure, the utility is reportedly considering solidifying the ground around the pier with a chemical solution. It also plans to pump out polluted water from a channel in the ground near the pier, which is suspected to be the source of the leakage. Work must be done hurriedly.

Slow response worrying

The series of measures taken by TEPCO in response to the leakage is worrying. Leakage was first suspected in late May, but due to the delay in confirmation measures, it took more than one month for the utility to report the leakage to the organizations concerned and announce it to the public.

A surveillance committee consisting of experts and others, which was established by TEPCO, said Friday the utility is naive about risk management and called for improving technological capabilities. The watchdog’s contention is quite right.

Considering the seriousness of the contaminated water issue at the Fukushima nuclear plant, it is impossible to dispel doubts about whether the matter will be resolved smoothly under the current management system.

The utility has continued pouring cooling water into the reactors, and groundwater is also flowing through damaged sections into the area below the facilities housing the reactors. As a result, the contaminated water continues to increase by 400 tons a day.

Nearly 400,000 tons of tainted water have already been stored in tanks built on the plant’s premises. Additional tanks can be built to create a maximum storage capacity of 800,000 tons. But someday the tanks will be full.

It is essential to reduce the inflow of groundwater and stop the contaminated water from increasing.

TEPCO has decided on a policy of pumping up uncontaminated groundwater before it flows into reactors and discharging it into the sea. But approval for the policy has not yet been obtained from the local people and organizations involved in fisheries.

Cooperation vital

The government must cooperate with TEPCO to win over the local people and organizations concerned.

As a drastic measure to prevent the inflow of groundwater, the utility also plans to build an underground wall to block out water. This will be a key preventive measure.

One hurdle to clear is how to dispose of the large quantities of contaminated water that have accumulated. If the tainted water is purified, it will reduce the risk when it is stored. It will be indispensable to put the water purification equipment now under development into full operation.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority has presented the view that even purified water will have to be discharged into the sea eventually. To obtain public understanding of the safety of purified water, the NRA is asked to give explanations from the viewpoint of experts.

Decommissioning reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant will not make headway if short shrift is given to measures to handle polluted water. We suggest that the government strengthen cooperation with TEPCO and provide necessary assistance in terms of funds and technology.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 27, 2013)
(2013年7月27日01時26分  読売新聞)


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