Naohiro Masuda has been named leader of a new organization within TEPCO, the Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Company, which will be officially responsible for site cleanup. Masuda was the superintendent in charge of Fukushima Daiini during the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Now vice head of TEPCO’s nuclear safety oversight office, Masuda will sit on a management committee with three vice-presidents from industry: Hiroshi Arima, Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy senior vice president; Takuji Takayama, Toshiba senior manager; and Shigemitsu Suzuki, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries senior general manager.

The body will provide reports to TEPCO senior management and the government’s decommissioning support organization. It will receive support from TEPCO corporation, guidance from the decommissioning support organization, monitoring from TEPCO senior management, and advice from former NRC chairman Dale Klein, former UKAEA chairman Barbara Judge, former TMI site manager Lake Barrett and UK NDA strategy director Adrian Simper.

Fukushima site update

The formation of the new company comes at a significant time for the site. With the start-up of the ALPS multi-nuclide removal system, TEPCO is predicting to be able to have removed 62 nuclides from the stored contaminated water by the end of the fiscal year in March 2015. TEPCO is planning to install a second group of three ALPS systems to supplement the existing three, whose capacity is 750 m3/day. In addition, TEPCO has begun validation work of unspecified ‘high performance equipment’, capacity 500 m3/day, that produces 20 times less waste than the existing system, according to TEPCO documents. The budget for this programme, backed by national subsidy, is JPY 15 billion ($150 million).

A system to divert groundwater that would normally flow into the contaminated Fukushima site into separate storage tanks for release into the sea after testing should start in a few weeks.

In addition, plans are underway to pave the entire Fukushima 1-4 site, after confirmation that most of the groundwater flowing into buildings comes from rainwater.

Construction of an impermeable piled wall on the sea side of the Fukushima reactors was nearly (94%) complete as of end March 2014, after about two and a half years’ work.

TEPCO also expects to have removed all of the spent fuel from the unit 4 reactor within this timeframe. As of 21 April, 704 fuel bundles had been removed. Next year the work to remove spent fuel from unit 3 begins; at the moment, debris clearing work from that unit continues.

$2.5m tender launched for validation of clean-up tech

A comprehensive tendering operation was launched in March to validate cleanup technologies to support cleanup of contaminated water at Fukushima Daiichi, following consultation from international experts last year. Subsidies of up to $2.5 million are available for research into technologies that are expected to be effective but need to be checked and verified before being used:

  • Small leakage detection technology (including dyes)
  • Tank decontaminating technology without using water
  • Tritiated water storage and separation technologies
  • Technology for cleaning up seawater in port
  • Technology for capturing strontium in soil
  • Automated boring technology

Following an information session on 8 April, tender documents have been posted on:

Photo: Naohiro Masuda, leader of the Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Company speaking in TEPCO video.

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