Contaminated Fukushima Water Storage Tanks "Close To Capacity", TEPCO Admits

The Tokyo Electric Power Company is running out of container space to store water contaminated by tritium outside the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, and it's also running out of room for building more tanks, according to Yomiuri Shimbum, a Japanese newspaper, which is creating an intractable problem for the utility, which has been tasked with supervising the cleanup of Fukushima.

The Japanese government has been desperately trying to accelerate the cleanup ahead of the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo - and it's a miracle it hasn't run into this issue sooner. TEPCO is still struggling with how to dispose of the tritium-tainted water. Options discussed have included dumping it into the ocean, but that proposal has angered local fishing communities.


At some point, TEPCO and the government will need to make a difficult decision. Until then, ground water will continue to seep into the ruined reactor, where it becomes contaminated. Afterward, TEPCO can treat the contaminated water to purify it, but they can't remove the tritium, which is why the supply of water contaminated with tritium continues to grow.

As one government official pointed out, Japan can't simply store the radioactive water forever. As of now, the company should be able to store water until 2020.

Efforts have been made to increase storage capacity by constructing bigger tanks when the time comes for replacing the current ones. But a senior official of the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry said, "Operation of tanks is close to its capacity."

TEPCO plans to secure 1.37 million tons of storage capacity by the end of 2020, but it has not yet decided on a plan for after 2021. Akira Ono, chief decommissioning officer of TEPCO, said, "It is impossible to continue to store [treated water] forever."

But after that, Tepco is either going to need to start releasing the tritium water into the ocean (something that has been done by many power plants, but is politically popular in Japan) or find another solution. In fact, an average of 380 trillion becquerels had been annually released into the sea across Japan during the five years before the accident. If the water from Fukushima is diluted to the point that tritium content is only 1 million becquerels per liter, which is more than 10 times higher than the national average for sea release. But if it's diluted, it can eventually be released. However, an industry report has determined that sea release would be the safest and most efficient option.

Regarding disposal methods for the treated water, the industry ministry’s working group compiled a report in June 2016 that said that the method of release into the sea is the cheapest and quickest among five ideas it examined. The ideas were (1) release into the sea, (2) release by evaporation, (3) release after electrolysis, (4) burial underground and (5) injection into geological layers.

After that, the industry ministry also established an expert committee to look into measures against harmful misinformation. Although a year and a half has passed since the first meeting of the committee, it has not yet reached a conclusion.

At the eighth meeting of the committee held on Friday, various opinions were expressed. One expert said, "While the fishery industry [in Fukushima and other prefectures] is in the process of revival, should we dispose of [the treated water] now?" The other said, "In order to advance the decommissioning, the number of tanks should be decreased at an early date."

The working group is planning to hold a public hearing to consider other methods of disposal. But if none can be found, Japan will have no choice but to dump the contaminated water into the ocean.


sabaj49 SACRED-COW Mon, 05/21/2018 - 10:00 Permalink

all TEPCO exec's need to find jail of their choosing

talk about corrupt criminals - helped by govt

in time they'll do bankruptcy - not like they can fix this problem

I say start burying this thing in concrete - at least them WORLD WOULDN'T EXPERIENCE THE NUCLEAR FALLOUT IT HAS CREATED


why does u.s. govt STILL BAN RADIOACTIVE TESTING OF FISH and FOOD from pacific????

In reply to by SACRED-COW

rtb61 Ahmeexnal Mon, 05/21/2018 - 06:32 Permalink

Far easier to simply run it through very large centrifuges. You need size for the volume of liquid to be handled. Put in water and spin, heavier water and all elements in solution or suspension, will spin to the outside and the lightest purest water will be forced towards the centre where it can be drained off as more impure water is added.

It will consume a lot of energy but it can be done.

In reply to by Ahmeexnal

Jim in MN Shillinlikeavillan Mon, 05/21/2018 - 02:36 Permalink

Yes, unfortunately, tritium is the least of their worries.  The article mischaracterizes the contaminants in the water.  Cesium is the main problem, as it has been since the disaster occurred.  That's a 35 year half life more or less.  At least it's not strontium or plutonium (mainly).  But cesium is bad enough.  It's the reason there are still plenty of radioactive boars around Chernobyl all these years later.  Cesium bioaccumulates with no apparent limit. 

In reply to by Shillinlikeavillan

Urban Roman Jim in MN Mon, 05/21/2018 - 08:32 Permalink

I seem to recall that the storage was almost full about three or four years ago.

So, it's almost full again? They'll just have to flush it again.

The truth of the matter is, all that radwaste is going to end up in the ocean anyway. Maybe Tepco could take a cue from the Russians and build floating reactors, to save all the bodice-rending and teeth-gnashing when it sinks. It's either an ELE or it isn't, ...

In reply to by Jim in MN

Dragon HAwk Sun, 05/20/2018 - 23:21 Permalink

Turn it into a Soft Drink, name it Godzilla Juice and boost the economy,  Jeeze do i have to do all the thinking for everybody.  Millennials would love it.

karenm Sun, 05/20/2018 - 23:25 Permalink


Boy, times must be tough at the media outlets, can't even afford to create a new fearmongering story. Gotta rehash Ebola for the 100h time and bring back this old hag.

booboo Sun, 05/20/2018 - 23:26 Permalink

So storing it was a temporary solution anyways and sooner or later this bridge had to be crossed. As usual government will be complicit in the large scale pollution of planet earth while fining the shit out of some dirt farmer for silty run off on a 12 acre peanut field.

MuffDiver69 Sun, 05/20/2018 - 23:39 Permalink

There are many videos and interesting articles on this. I stopped my interest a few years back. It’s painful to see this and the incompetence of this entire situation. It’s obviously much worse than reported in Fake News..

TheEndIsNear Sun, 05/20/2018 - 23:39 Permalink

"can't remove the tritium"

Why not???  Tritium oxide is not called "super-heavy water" for nothing. It is heavier than water (H2O), so just store it in open tanks and let the water evaporate off leaving the tritium behind, or distill it.

techpriest TheEndIsNear Mon, 05/21/2018 - 00:15 Permalink

I looked up the boiling point - T2O is 104C (4 C over water), so in theory you could distill it. Chemically they are nearly identical, so the interaction effects might introduce an azeotrope that would make distillation difficult (in the same way, you cannot purify ethanol above ~95% at ambient pressure).

It might be that no one has ever done a significant amount of pressure-swing distillation with tritiated water, and the ones who have do not want to give up their knowhow (you could probably find a way to weaponize it). It might also be that the final, purified product might be so radioactive that it would destroy the containment vessels.

IMO, the article is a very typical problem-reaction-solution article, in which TEPCO is asking for more money for more containment vessels.

In reply to by TheEndIsNear

Hillarys Server Sun, 05/20/2018 - 23:49 Permalink

Just claim tritium is being victimized by the Table of Periodic Elements patriarchy for being gay and an element of color and store it in California and in Starbucks bathrooms.