Firms from Russia, Canada and the USA have been chosen to demonstrate their technology for cleaning up tritium-containing liquid radioactive waste at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Mitsubishi Research Institute Inc., selected bids prepared by RosRAO and the Khlopin Radium Institute (a company of Rosatom), GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Canada Inc. and US-based Kurion Inc. for verification at the site following a competitive tendering process.
The three companies were picked from 29 applicants, according to reports in the Japan Times. It also reported that the Japanese government would provide up to ¥1 billion yen ($9.5 million) for each examination of the technologies and running costs.
If the demonstration projects are completed successfully and performance characteristics of the treatment facilities are confirmed, the companies will have the opportunity to bid for development of a full-scale commercial facility for tritium clean-up. The experimental phase is expected to continue until March 2016, according to local press reports.
Currently, contaimated water at Fukushima is treated by the EnergySolutions-supplied Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS), which removes about 60 radionuclides. One notable nuclide that will not be substantially removed by this system is tritium (beta-emitter, half-life 12.5 years), which TEPCO says is difficult to remove.
TEPCO's initial plans were to discharge tritium into the Pacific Ocean, for which regulatory limits are 1500 Bq/liter tritium.
Fukushima site, as pictured in March 2011