MOSCOW, September 20 (RIA Novosti) - Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has begun trials of the first unit of the improved water decontamination system at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the company announced on its website.
TEPCO said that the remaining two units of what it called “a significantly enhanced” Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) will be put into operation in the foreseeable future. The company then will be able to double the amount of radioactive water it can process through the ALPS from 750 to 1,500 tons a day, TEPCO stated.
The Fukushima operator is storing close to 400,000 tons of contaminated water that has to be filtered through the ALPS. 400 tons of water is contaminated each day.
Fukushima’s purification system has been plagued with problems since it was launched in 2013. However, TEPCO claims it improved the ALPS system taking into account the lessons learned from the earlier ALPS design. “They include new rubber linings to prevent erosion, improved monitoring of water flow, improved leak detection, enhanced backup equipment and enhanced physical barriers to contain any leaks,” TEPCO said in a statement.
Additionally, the groundwater bypass initiative, launched in May, has finally started to show progress, the Japan Times reports. It has been designed to reduce the amount of water flowing into the reactors by diverting it to the wells and discharging it into the ocean following radiation checks.
The Fukushima operator said that so far it has released over 35,000 tons of groundwater. It claimed that it has managed to reduce the amount of water leaking into the reactors by 50 to 80 tons. “If the groundwater bypass is really cutting the amount by that much, it’s good progress,” said Atsunao Marui, a researcher at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, as quoted by the Japan Times.
On March 2011, the Fukushima nuclear power plant was hit by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and a subsequent tsunami, which caused a partial meltdown of three of the plant’s nuclear reactors. The incident is considered the worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe.