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Fukushima cleanup threatened by water woes

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 02:47s - Published < > Embed
Fukushima cleanup threatened by water woes

Fukushima cleanup threatened by water woes

One million tons of contaminated water must be stored, possibly for years, at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, a new obstacle that threatens undermine the massive clean-up of the site eight years after the plant's nuclear crisis.

Ryan Brooks reports.

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Fukushima cleanup threatened by water woes

(EDTIORS PLEASE NOTE - THIS CORRECTS AN EARLIER VERSION OF THIS PACKAGE THAT OMITTED IN ERROR PART OF REUTERS CORRESPONDENT KIYOSHI TAKENAKA'S SOUNDBITE, THUS INCORRECTLY ATTRIBUTING DETAILS TO 'TEPCO,' AS OPPOSED TO 'INDUSTRY EXPERTS'.) The clean-up at Japan's Fukushima No.

1 nuclear power plant has been massive.

It's been eight years since it suffered three meltdowns.

A new crisis threatens to undermine the effort.

One million tons of contaminated water must be stored within the wrecked plant - possibly for years.

It's enough to fill 400 Olympic swimming pools.

Tokyo Electric Power - TEPCO - pours water over melted fuel to cool it down.

Then, they treat it.

Last year the system to clean the water failed.

Now they need two years to treat some of it again.

But this worker says- a tank gets full almost every week.

Space to store the water is running out.

If another quake happens- experts say tanks could crack, unleashing tainted water and washing highly radioactive debris into the ocean.

Reuters' Kiyoshi Takenaka reports from the Fukushima plant, where progress has been slow, even if it's safe outside the reactor.

(SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) REUTERS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, KIYOSHI TAKENAKA, SAYING: "Just a few years ago - reporting like this from the plant without wearing a full-face mask and protective suit was just, unthinkable.

But Tokyo Electric Power, still faces a mountain of problems - including how to deal with an ever-increasing amount of tainted water.

Some industry experts say existing tanks will get in the way of decommissioning as they are taking up space necessary to build storage facilities for highly radioactive melted fuels.

They say the only feasible way to handle the problem is diluting the water to lower its radiation levels below legal limits and releasing it into the ocean." Japan's nuclear watchdog says reprocessed water is harmless.

But - like many locals - fishing boat captain Koichi Matsumoto strongly opposes any release.

(SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) CAPTAIN OF FISHING BOAT SEIKO-MARU, KOICHI MATSUMOTO, SAYING: "Releasing water from the plant could tarnish our reputation, so we fishermen, are all worried about it." However, an ocean release is the most likely of five options suggested by a government task force.

Storing the water for decades is another- but that raises the risk of leaks.

The Japanese government and TEPCO are waiting for a panel of experts to make recommendations on what to do with the water.

It's just one of many complicated tasks ahead.

Not counting the new delays, dismantling Fukushima was set to take up to four decades.

And it's estimated to cost $200 billion dollars, a fifth of Japan's yearly budget.




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