U.N. Agency Eyes Flushing More Fukushima-Contaminated Water

A worker checks a wall along a coastline at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in November. The International Atomic Energy Agency this week urged Tokyo to consider dumping additional contaminated water from the damaged site.
National Journal
Diane Barnes
Feb. 14, 2014, 9:57 a.m.

The U.N. nuc­le­ar watch­dog urged Ja­pan to weigh dump­ing ra­dio­act­ive wa­ter from its Fukushi­ma plant to help con­trol the flu­id’s “enorm­ous” quant­ity.

Ja­pan should con­sider “all op­tions” to man­age ra­di­ation-tain­ted flu­id from the Fukushi­ma Daii­chi nuc­le­ar power plant, “in­clud­ing the pos­sible re­sump­tion of con­trolled dis­charges to the sea,” the In­ter­na­tion­al Atom­ic En­ergy Agency said in a re­port pre­pared at Ja­pan’s re­quest and made pub­lic on Thursday. A 2011 earth­quake and tsunami led to melt­downs in three of the six re­act­ors at the fa­cil­ity over­seen by Tokyo Elec­tric Power, and the plant op­er­at­or has ap­plied massive quant­it­ies of wa­ter since that time to help cool over­heat­ing com­pon­ents.

More than 132 mil­lion gal­lons of con­tam­in­ated wa­ter had amassed on the fa­cil­ity’s grounds as of late last year, and about a fifth of that amount was in­side base­ments and oth­er struc­tures, the Vi­enna-based U.N. agency said in its re­port.

Oth­er wa­ter was be­ing stored in­side hun­dreds of tanks, and the re­port says Tokyo Elec­tric Power is field­ing more of the con­tain­ers. Tank leaks have been an on­go­ing prob­lem, though, and the U.N. agency said Ja­pan would need to take steps bey­ond de­ploy­ing ad­di­tion­al con­tain­ers and re­fin­ing de­con­tam­in­a­tion tech­no­logy already in place.

“It is ne­ces­sary to find a sus­tain­able solu­tion” to the wa­ter prob­lems at the coastal com­plex, the U.N. agency said in its as­sess­ment.

The IAEA au­thors urged Tokyo Elec­tric Power to as­sess what “po­ten­tial ra­di­olo­gic­al im­pact” re­leas­ing ad­di­tion­al con­tam­in­ated wa­ter in­to the ocean would have on “the pop­u­la­tion and the en­vir­on­ment.” The com­pany re­leased more than 1,000 tons of wa­ter from the plant last Septem­ber, when a typhoon flooded the site with more flu­id than it could handle.

The re­port did not sug­gest how much wa­ter the site might ul­ti­mately dump, and it called for ex­tens­ive dis­cus­sion of the po­ten­tial move with gov­ern­ment au­thor­it­ies and the pub­lic.

“It is clear that fi­nal de­cision mak­ing will re­quire en­ga­ging all stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing [Tokyo Elec­tric Power], the [Ja­pan­ese Nuc­le­ar Reg­u­la­tion Au­thor­ity], the na­tion­al gov­ern­ment, Fukushi­ma pre­fec­ture gov­ern­ment, loc­al com­munit­ies and oth­ers,” says the re­port, which as­sesses Ja­pan’s ef­forts to plan and carry out the Fukushi­ma site’s dis­man­tle­ment.

What We're Following See More »
IRS Investigating Clinton Foundation
42 minutes ago

Investigations are never far from the Clintons, and here's another: At the behest of "dozens" of Republican lawmakers, the IRS is opening a fraud investigation into the Clinton Foundation."The move signals a shift from the IRS's announcement last year that it would not look into allegations of financial irregularities at the well-connected charity."

Report Details Terrible Morale at FEC
50 minutes ago

"Bickering commissioners, ineffective managers and lousy internal communication rank among the top reasons why the Federal Election Commission" has some of the worst morale in the federal government. That's the conclusion of an inspector general's report, which put "the most blame on the FEC’s six commissioners: three Democratic appointees and three Republican appointees who have regularly criticized one another and frequently (but not exclusively) deadlocked on high-profile political issues before them."

UAW President: Clinton Promised to Renegotiate NAFTA
1 hours ago

On Tuesday, Dennis Williams, the president of the United Auto Workers, said that Hillary Clinton has told him that she will renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement if elected president. Trade deals, especially NAFTA, have played a prominent role in the campaign, with Clinton receiving heat both from her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders and GOP nominee Donald Trump. The Clinton campaign did not comment on Williams's comments, though that didn't stop the Trump campaign from weighing in. Hillary Clinton "will never renegotiate Bill Clinton's NAFTA," said Stephen Miller, senior policy adviser to Trump.

Senate Contractors Short Cafeteria Workers by $1 Million
1 hours ago

"The Labor Department announced Tuesday that federal contractors had shorted 674 Senate cafeteria workers to the tune of $1 million. Two companies, Restaurant Associates and its subcontractor, Personnel Plus, violated the law by misclassifying workers into lower-paying positions and having them work off the clock, the agency said." The department is looking into whether to renew the contracts.

Spy Agencies Hone in on Russia as Culprit of DNC Hack
1 hours ago

"American intelligence agencies have told the White House they now have 'high confidence' that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee, according to federal officials who have been briefed on the evidence. But intelligence agencies have cautioned that they are uncertain whether the electronic break-in at the committee's computer systems was intended as fairly routine cyberespionage—of the kind the United States also conducts around the world—or as part of an effort to manipulate the 2016 presidential election." WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange "has made it clear that he hoped to harm Hillary Clinton's chances of winning the presidency."