The decontamination of radioactive water at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is failing to reach its target, putting the timetable for bringing its reactors under control in doubt.
Exactly five months have passed since the plant’s cooling system was shut down by the earthquake and tsunami disaster on March 11th.
Operator Tokyo Electric Power Company has entered stage two of its timetable to end the nuclear crisis. TEPCO aims to stably cool the reactors by January next year.
Decontaminating thousands of tons of wastewater at the site holds the key.
But failures of the installed filtering system have prevented the utility from achieving its initial operating rate of 90 percent. The figure as of Wednesday stands at 66 percent.
The system has been hit by a string of different malfunctions, though it has been fully operating for more than a month.
The man in charge of nuclear disasters at the Nuclear Safety Commission, Yoshinori Moriyama, said on Wednesday that Tepco must improve the system by pinpointing the common root of problems, rather than addressing them ad hoc.
To complete the second stage, Tepco must reduce the amount of polluted water to prevent radioactive materials from spilling outside. That means it must operate the decontamination system effectively.