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2013年9月30日 (月)

原発汚染水処理 モグラ叩きから脱する戦略を

The Yomiuri Shimbun September 30, 2013
Effective strategy must be worked out to deal with radioactive water leakage
原発汚染水処理 モグラ叩きから脱する戦略を(9月29日付・読売社説)

A truly effective strategy is essential in resolving the ongoing problems concerning radioactive water leaking at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. A question-and-answer session at the Diet has again brought this to our attention.

Despite the legislature’s recess, the House of Representatives Economy, Trade and Industry Committee held a meeting Friday on the contaminated water leaking at the TEPCO plant.

TEPCO President Naomi Hirose, who attended the meeting as an unsworn witness, said the situation remained unchanged, likening the problem to a game of “whack-a-mole,” and he apologized for delays in dealing with it.

He stressed his determination to carry out countermeasures to contain contaminated water leaking from the nuclear plant’s storage tanks. TEPCO plans to seek the cooperation of experts both at home and abroad to develop new technologies for resolving the situation, such as the proposed construction of an artificial underground frozen soil wall to block underground water flowing into the damaged reactor buildings.

At the committee meeting, Hirose referred to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s statement, made during Tokyo’s final presentation in its bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralymic Games at the International Olympic Committee meeting in Buenos Aires, that contaminated water leaking at the nuclear plant “is under control.”
The TEPCO head said he shared the prime minister’s view that the contaminated water was being contained within the bay adjacent to the plant, and was not flowing into the Pacific Ocean.

However, the current state of affairs involving the nuclear complex and the massive amount of contaminated water leaves a big question mark.

The government, having concluded that the matter cannot be left up to TEPCO alone, at long last has decided to earmark about ¥47 billion to help the utility fight the water leakage. To ensure public understanding on this fund, the government and TEPCO must do their utmost to further their cooperation in dealing with the leaking water.

Operate ALPS quickly

To determine how to end the whack-a-mole situation, it is essential to forecast potential risks and take steps to prevent problems from arising.

The government’s Committee on Countermeasures for Contaminated Water Treatment embarked Friday on the task of carrying out an in-depth study of potential risks.

A huge number of challenges exist in this respect. One of them, for instance, is the risk of contaminated water leaking from the network of large pipes snaking around the reactor buildings and other structures at the plant. TEPCO, for that matter, has cited steps to compact the earth around the reactor buildings to prevent leaks of water from occurring, while laying auxiliary pipes.

Paving the compound of the plant to prevent the water from seeping underground is also an urgent matter. Another major earthquake and tsunami in the region where the nuclear plant is located cannot be ruled out. Full preparedness is imperative.

The most urgent task is to realize full operation of an advanced liquid processing system (ALPS), a device for removing radioactive substances, which could significantly reduce the risk of storing contaminated water. The Nuclear Regulation Authority spent nearly a year screening the performance of ALPS, a factor behind the delay in causing the leakage problems to take on grave proportions.

Arrangements should be accelerated to ensure ALPS can stably dispose of large quantities of contaminated water.

During the question-and-answer session, Hirose said he was “mostly worried” about a possible drop in a sense of responsibility among TEPCO employees in charge of such tasks as compensation negotiations with local residents affected by the nuclear crisis, decontamination and decommissioning of the reactors.

The importance of securing personnel and the maintenance and enhancement of technological capabilities is certain to increase. This should never be ignored.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 29, 2013)
(2013年9月29日01時47分  読売新聞)


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