The operator of Japan's disabled Fukushima nuclear power plant said Friday it had begun pumping highly contaminated groundwater out of the basements of the reactors.
Tokyo Electric Power Company made the announcement two days after the Japanese government said nearly 300 tons of radioactive water might be flowing into the Pacific Ocean every day from the facility, which was crippled by the devastating magnitude-9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, 2011.
Since the pumping system was put into operation, there have not been any "anomalies such as water leaks," TEPCO said.
The system is capable of extracting up to 0.18 tons of groundwater per minute, the privately owned electric utility said.
TEPCO said it also was working on a system of 30 pipes in the port area, just opposite the damaged reactors, that could be ready by mid-August and allow up to 100 tons of contaminated water to be extracted daily.
Another proposal under consideration is to dump water with low levels of radiation into the sea across from the Fukushima facility, which is isolated from the open ocean by service docks and breakwaters, the Nikkei daily reported Friday.
The government already has signaled a willingness to provide more state aid to TEPCO for use in a proposed plan to freeze the soil surrounding the plant to prevent groundwater from entering the reactor buildings and becoming contaminated.
TEPCO is currently focusing most of its efforts on the contaminated water that has accumulated in the basements of the reactor buildings.
Water used to cool the reactors and keep them stable seeps into those basements, but the problem is exacerbated by the hundreds of tons of groundwater that flow everyday down a mountainside and into the site. EFE