Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) president Naomi Hirose said that they will be abandoning the seven underground pools that were storing radioactive water at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Three of those pools were found to be leaking the contaminated water since April 5. Instead, they will be transferring all the water to more stable tanks on the ground.
According to Hirose, they have still yet to determine the cause and extent of the leaks but are already taking these steps to ensure that the contaminated water will not flow into the nearby sea. This water is used to cool down the reactors that suffered the meltdown in the 2011 disasters and is highly radioactive, despite the removal of caesium. They will be transferring around 7,000 tonnes from two of the leaking pools into tanks that are already on the ground. But they will have to build 38 more of these tanks to accommodate the 19,000 tonnes from the rest of the pools that have to be moved by mid-May.
Meanwhile, the Nuclear Regulation Authority is set to make public the new draft safety standards they have come up with for public consultation for 30 days. These new standards were created to avoid a repeat of the Fukushima crisis in 2011, the worst of its kind in modern times. One of the proposed new rules is the banning on building reactors directly near any active tectonic faults. The new meaning of active fault is any that has moved in 400,000 years, from the previous definition of 130,000 years. Around 5 of the existing nuclear plants are built on an active seismic fault.
NRA chairman Shunichi Tanaka also previously said that these new regulations will make sure that the nuclear plants around the country will be able to withstand tsunamis, earthquakes and terrorist attacks. Both the new regulations and the agency itself were created in response to criticism that the previous regulatory body was too cozy with the nuclear plant operators, which led to too lax regulations, which in turn led to the mistakes that caused the Fukushima plant meltdown.
After the public consultation, the new regulations will be enforced by mid-July. Compliance to the new rules will probably determine which of the 48 offline nuclear reactors will be permitted to go back online. Only two nuclear plants are now in operation after safety checks were enforced after the 2011 crisis.
[ via The West ]
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