TEPCO may evaporate contaminated Fukushima water

Water tanks storing radiation contaminated water are seen at Tokyo Electric Power Co's (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture (Reuters / Shizuo Kambayashi / Pool)
Tainted water from Fukushima nuclear plant storage may be evaporated or stored underground instead of following earlier plans to release it into the ocean.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), which is responsible for cleaning up the crippled power plant, planned to release the tritium-laced water into the ocean. However, it suffered a setback following protests by local fishermen who are already struggling with their livelihood following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that led to the meltdown of three reactors.

Water is used to keep the wrecked reactors cool enough to prevent further radioactive releases, but there is no available technology to remove the tritium.

Chief decommissioning officer Naohiro Masuda, told Reuters he did not know when a final decision about evaporation would be made.

READ MORE: Fukushima radiation found off Canadian coast

This comes as low-level radiation produced by the tsunami-stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan has been detected off the coast of Canada.

TEPCO is in a race against time to contain the wrecked nuclear facility. Management of the situation has likewise been marked by mishaps and scandalous revelations that have put a serious dent in the company’s reputation.

The plant’s operator announced a week ago its plans to disclose all data on radiation levels recorded at the site in response to mounting criticism over its lack of transparency.

In late February, TEPCO admitted to concealing a radioactive leak for 10 months, citing an ongoing investigation.

READ MORE: Fukushima operator to miss toxic water clean-up deadline, suspends till May

Earlier this year the company also admitted it won’t be able to process the radioactive water stored at Fukushima plant by March, as the operator had promised before. TEPCO’S president said the delay is due to technical problems.

Following the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear disaster in the US, the cleanup crew used the evaporation method with success, but the amounts of water were much smaller.

Three of the Fukushima plant’s reactors suffered nuclear meltdown following an earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011 - becoming the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

The water used to keep the reactors cool is tainted with radioactive material and has since been leaking and mixing with groundwater that is seeping through the facility.