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Wednesday Update

From NEI’s Japan micro-site:

TEPCO to Desalinate Used Fuel Pools

Plant Status

  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. plans to begin desalinating water in the used fuel storage pools at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility by the end of this week. TEPCO said it will start with the pool at the fourth unit because it contains the most used fuel. The new desalination equipment will arrive on five trucks and use special membranes and electricity. Salt was introduced into the facilities immediately after the March 11 accident, when workers used seawater to provide emergency cooling. Desalination will reduce the likelihood of salt-induced corrosion of stainless steel pipes and the pool walls.

Media Highlights

  • The Wall Street Journal reported today that the cleanup of radioactive water at the Fukushima Daiichi plant is behind schedule because of recurring problems with the decontamination equipment. TEPCO began testing a new decontamination system Tuesday. “Strengthening the capability of the water treatment is the most important task facing us,” said Goshi Hosono, the minister in charge of recovery efforts at the facility.
  • The Japanese government has approved restart of the Tomari 3 nuclear energy facility, according to a report by Reuters. It is the first commercial reactor to gain restart approval since the March 11 accident. However, the facility was operating at a low power level for testing prior to the accident, and its restart is not expected to ease Japan’s energy shortage.
An article in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal highlighted the difficulty in assessing the risk from low levels of radioactivity. “While high levels of radiation are unequivocally dangerous, the science regarding health effects of the kind of lower-level contamination that has spread far from the plant is surprisingly hazy. … The effects of slight increases [in radiation exposure] are difficult to measure,” the Journal reports.

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