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Contaminated water grows at Fukushima nuclear plant

Japanese utility TEPCO said it is still planning to decommission Fukushima No. 1 in 30 to 40 years but problems persist at the site.

By Elizabeth Shim
Contaminated water grows at Fukushima nuclear plant
The crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okumamachi, Fukushima prefecture, northern Japan. Contaminated water grows daily at the site. Photo by UPI/Air Photo Service Co. Ltd. | License Photo

FUKUSHIMA, Japan, March 24 (UPI) -- Japanese electric utility TEPCO is confronting ongoing water leaks and other problems at its Fukushima nuclear plant, but is moving forward with plans to scrap the plant in 30 to 40 years.

The Asahi Shimbun reported TEPCO has spent $4.93 billion to combat persistent perils associated with Fukushima No. 1, a nuclear plant that continues to accumulate contaminated water. TEPCO estimated $8.35 billion is needed to contain the radioactive material. South Korean news agency Yonhap reported a TEPCO representative said Fukushima No. 1 is leaking 300 tons of contaminated water on a daily basis and the utility was struggling to build additional storage.

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In January, 600,000 tons of contaminated water was stored in tanks in Fukushima, according to The Asahi Shimbun. Water purification systems that have cost Japan millions of dollars have malfunctioned and a plan to build a frozen wall of soil has been slow to progress.

But Yonhap reported the Japanese utility is not backing away from a plan to decommission Fukushima in 30 to 40 years and has made progress in stabilizing temperatures in water tanks at the nuclear plant. A nine-story building for Fukushima workers is nearing completion, and hot food service is now available for them, said TEPCO.

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On Tuesday The Independent reported Japanese authorities have announced plans to build an $8.6 billion, 250-mile sea wall to protect against future tsunamis, like the one that devastated Fukushima during the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, but the effectiveness of the wall is being questioned in Japan.

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