Reactor Basement Losing Its Radioactive Water

In three-week process it will be removed then ultimately purified
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 19, 2011 10:46 AM CDT
A device is lowered to get a water sample from the spent fuel pool of the heavily damaged Unit 4 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, in this April 12 photo from Tokyo Electric.   (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.)

(Newser) – Tokyo Electric began the painstaking process of pumping radioactive water out of the basement of a turbine building at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Station today, dumping it into a special storage building. It’ll be a frustratingly slow process, the New York Times reports, with technicians daring only to extract 480 metric tons a day. At that rate, pumping all 10,000 tons will take almost three weeks.

“If a pipe breaks and you’re pumping hundreds of gallons a minute, you’re going to make a huge mess,” one American expert explains. The water in question must be handled with care because it’s 2 million times more radioactive than the 10,393 tons of less dangerous water Tokyo Electric has already pumped into the ocean. Japanese officials plan to install a water purification system that will cut the radiation in the water by 99.9% to 99.99%.

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