Savannah River labs lend expertise to Tokyo Electric

  • Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 11:00 p.m.
    UPDATED: Thursday, January 17, 2013 2:11 p.m.

Representatives from Tokyo Electric Power Company were visiting the Savannah River National Laboratory this week as part of an ongoing technology exchange. Expertise from the Savannah River National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are being used to aid recovery efforts at the Fukushima Dai-ichi site.

On March 11, 2011, a powerful earthquake hit northeast Japan and the resulting tsunami killed almost 20,000 people. The combination of natural disasters caused meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

Since then, TEPCO has been focussed on remediation efforts to minimize the impact of the accident. These efforts have included an ongoing partnership that has involved SRNL and PNNL scientists traveling to Japan and TEPCO officials visiting the U.S. laboratories.

On Tuesday, Masumi Ishikawa, TEPCO’s general manager for radioactive fuel management, discussed their efforts in Aiken.

“Fukushima has specific needs,” Ishikawa said. “We are trying to see what technologies here can be applied to the needs of Fukushima.”

Through an interpreter, Ishikawa explained that SRNL’s expertise in groundwater cleanup, groundwater management and related remediation techniques used in radioactive areas have been a focus of their exchange.

The management of water is a significant challenge at the Fukushima site. To cool the reactors, there must be water flowing, however this process has been made more difficult due to tainted groundwater that has made its way into the reactor area. Ishikawa said leaks of water are still being seen. This water must be removed and remediated.

“This is an important challenge we must meet,” he added.

SRNL advisory engineer Jim Marra believes the TEPCO party was buoyed by their trip to Savannah River Site, as they have been able to see the end game of cleanup projects. The group visited the site of P Reactor, which has been decommissioned in its original place.

“They have a road map and cleanup plan that goes 50 years into the future,” Marra said.

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