Another one of these reports from The Guardian about how difficult and vital and terrible is the Fukushima clean up:
Up to 400 tonnes of groundwater that flows into the basements each day must be pumped out, stored and treated – and on-site storage is edging closer to capacity. Decommissioning the plant will be impossible until its operator, Tokyo Electric Power [Tepco] addresses the water crisis.
Last month workers from Tepco and the construction firm Kajima Corp began inserting 1,550 pipes 33 metres vertically into the ground to form a rectangular cordon around the reactors. Coolant set at -30C will be fed into the pipes, eventually freezing the surrounding earth to create an impermeable barrier.
It’s a good illustration of why nuclear power is so damn expensive. Because it’s grossly, grossly, overengineered for safety.
That groundwater flowing out into the ocean after passing under the reactors? It’s simply not important. Nothing needs to be done about it. Let the damn stuff flow into the ocean.
The used an unused fuel assemblies? Sure, they need to be cleaned up. The melted reactor cores? Sure, damn right we don’t want to leave them lying around. The coolant water used on those reactor cores? Sure, run it through the purification circuit. But this groundwater? By the time it actually reaches the mouth of the bay the radioactivity is so diluted that it’s below safe drinking water levels*.
Just leave it be: except, of course, for the hysteria over the tiniest, teensiest bits of radioactivity.
*That might be a slight exaggeration but not by much.