Saturday, September 14, 2013
Nuclear Watchdog To Consolidate Data On Fukushima Seawater
TOKYO (Nikkei)--To bolster monitoring of seawater near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the Nuclear Regulation Authority plans to consolidate data on the separate radiation studies conducted by government agencies, the facility's operator and localities.
The massive water leak at the plant has drawn international attention amid concerns that contaminated water from the crippled plant has flowed into the ocean, prompting deeper involvement by the government.
Fisheries Agency officials on Friday presented their findings on radiation in fish and other marine life caught in July and August to a panel of experts working under the nuclear watchdog. According to their data, 2.7% of the catch off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture had concentrations greater than 100 becquerels per kilogram -- the level for barring products from entering the market -- while the figure was 0.4% for other areas. A year earlier, 12.8% of marine specimens caught off the Fukushima coast and 1.6% of those collected elsewhere were above the threshold.
The figures "have clearly declined since immediately after the accident," said Kayoko Nakamura, one of the authority's commissioners. But one expert on the panel argued that the measuring activities were insufficient.
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) has been monitoring the sea within 20km of the facility, while the Fukushima prefectural government and others have studied the waters further out. But the areas of responsibility have not been clearly defined, the authority will take charge of both collecting and managing the data. The authority will also monitor the status of silt fences, which are designed to prevent contaminated water from spreading, as well as the flow of water into and out of the plant's harbor, which is partially surrounded by breakwaters.
The authority's decision to ramp up monitoring is partly to measure the impact of releasing tritium into the sea. One proposal for addressing the rapid accumulation of contaminated water at the plant is to purify the water to make it free of radioactivity except for tritium, then release the water into the ocean. Tritium is routinely released into the sea by nuclear power plants both at home and abroad. But the purification equipment has yet to start operating.
(The Nikkei, Sept. 14 morning edition)