JAPAN | Test of decontamination system continues

Posted on June 20, 2011

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JAPAN | NHK | Monday, June 20, 2011 14:17 +0900 (JST)

The operator of the damaged Fukushima power plant is struggling to fix the problem that caused the suspension of a system to decontaminate highly radioactive wastewater.

The system is designed to filter radioactive material, oil and salt from the contaminated water and to reuse the treated water to cool the reactors.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, halted the filtering system only 5 hours after it went into full operation on Friday. Readings around one of the system’s devices indicated higher-than-expected radiation levels.

TEPCO engineers suspect that the density of radioactive substances in the contaminated water was greater than had been predicted.

They initially thought that the device had absorbed large volumes of oil and sludge containing radioactive material. But in a test conducted on Sunday, high radiation levels were registered for equipment set to the lowest of 3 absorption levels.

In another test on Monday, TEPCO adjusted the flow of the contaminated water through the equipment.

The radioactive wastewater is hampering work to bring the plant under control. The amount is increasing by 500 tons a day as fresh water is continuously being injected to cool the reactors. Storage facilities are filling up and a delay in restarting the filtering system could cause the water to overflow in about a week.

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