On December 21, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) submitted an application to the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) of Japan regarding the basic design of the ALPS-treated water dilution and discharge facility and more.
One day earlier, prior to the submission, TEPCO had submitted requests for prior consent to Fukushima Prefecture, Okuma Town and Futaba Town based on the agreement to ensure safety in surrounding areas related to the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs),.
Under the Law for the Regulation of Nuclear Source Material, Nuclear Fuel Material and Reactors (the Reactor Regulation Law), the Fukushima Daiichi NPPs are designated as a specified nuclear facility on account of their damaged reactors. Given that, TEPCO is required to obtain a permission from the NRA for any change to facilities that secure safety.
The ALPS-treated water dilution and discharge facility comprises one facility for measurement and confirmation and another for dilution. Sampling and analyzing will be carried out at the former—for which existing tanks will be repurposed—to confirm that the ALPS-treated water had been purified of radioactive substances other than tritium to levels below the regulatory standards.
At the subsequent dilution facility, the water will then be diluted with seawater by a factor of more 100 to 1 in order to bring the tritium concentration to less than 1,500 Bq/l, one-seventh the standard for drinking water according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The tritium release will then be controlled within the limit of 22 trillion Bq/year (the release control value before the accident).
At a press conference held upon the submission of the application, Junichi Matsumoto, the person responsible for ALPS water treatment at the Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Company (FDEC), said, “The company will thoroughly work on activities based on the government’s basic policy, and will further ensure safety, listening to the opinions of the residents of the region and to the parties concerned.” The company plans to complete installation of the facility in mid-April 2023.
At its regular meeting on December 22, the NRA confirmed how it would proceed with the matter, saying that it would conduct examinations from two viewpoints: (1) regulatory standards according to the Reactor Regulation Law, and (2) the Basic Policy on handling of ALPS-treated water at the Fukushima Daiichi NPPs, decided upon by the Japanese government in April 2021. The results will be opened to the public for comments.
At a press conference following the regular meeting, NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa referred to the examinations, saying, “A draft review report can be expected to be available before the end of the current fiscal year.”
At the same time, given that the facility is not technically complicated but that people nationwide are keenly interested in the subject, he said, “Various views and opinions are likely to come out in the public comment stage.” That indicated his intention to deal with the issues without prejudgment.