Tag Archives: Water pollution

TEPCO: Fukushima Fuel Cooling System Stops Again Leaking Radioactive Water


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Radioactive route: Journalists in protective gear are taken to the No. 4 reactor building at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant on March 6. (Photo:  AP)
Radioactive route: Journalists in protective gear taken to the No. 4 reactor building at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant on March 6. (Photo: AP)

At every nuclear electrical power plant, spent nuclear fuel is kept cool to avoid it from overheating that may trigger a self-sustaining atomic reaction leading to a meltdown.

At the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant there are seven vast clay-lined storage pits each measuring 60 meters long, 53 meters wide and 6 meters deep. Three layers of protective waterproof lining cover each pit.

Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) said last Friday that one of the systems, pool #2 that keeps spent atomic fuel cool, failed temporarily at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. On Saturday, TEPCO said that around 120 tons of contaminated water with an estimated 710 billion becquerel of radioactivity probably leaked into the ground under the power plant. The process of pumping the remaining 13,000 tons of the water in the pool #2 into other tanks would take days. How the water escaped will remain a mystery until they drain and check the faulty pits. TEPCO did not give any explanation about where the leaked contaminated water might have ended up.

On late Sunday, TEPCO confirmed that a second underground storage pool #3, has leaked three liters of radioactive water at the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 power plant. However, the water level inside pool #3, has not gone down, indicating the leak is not that large. According to TEPCO, since this second leak is small, there are no plans to drain pool #3 into another storage area.

TEPCO is transferring the remaining water in pool #2 to two other pits. However, the water leaking from pool #3 is raising questions about the trustworthiness of all the pools and the risk to the environment.

Aside from the pools, the power plant has another headache. TEPCO stores tainted seawater perpetually needed to cool the melted fuel rods of the damaged reactors, in makeshift storage tanks. Unfortunately, the holding capacity of these makeshift tanks is running out quickly. On Sunday, Masayuki Ono, a senior TEPCO official said at a news conference that it is difficult for the plant to store all the tainted radioactive seawater in the temporary tanks.

At Fukushima, the site of the worst nuclear crisis in a generation, reactors went into meltdown and spewed radiation over a wide area polluting farmland and forcing tens of thousands of people to flee from their homes.

Although the natural disaster claimed around 19,000 lives, no one is officially recorded as having died as a direct result of the atomic catastrophe. However, activist groups such as Greenpeace say that the long-term health effects for people in the area are being vastly underestimated by a government pledged to a powerful nuclear industry. Although many voters in Japan distrust the technology, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has openly said Japan must consider continued use of nuclear as a less-expensive energy source to power the world’s third-largest economy.

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Good Old Terra Cotta Pots Still Make the Best RO System


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Pramila Krishnan

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By Pramila Krishnan

 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

(Excerpt from “Alarm bell rings for ground water” – Deccan Chronicle)

Botany Prof S. Saravana Babu of Chicka Naicker College, in Erode, and his team have been propagating a traditional three-pot, water purifying system among many villages in Erode district.

Even now many families prefer using this native purifier, which is much cheaper and just as good, if not better, compared to the modern UV/reverse osmosis purifiers.

“This pot purifier is nothing new. When I studied the quality of water from the Cauvery river in Mettur-Erode for a research project, I learnt that its fluoride content was very high and the water had traces of pesticides,” said Prof Babu.

With his teammates, he observed that some families there purified water using clean sand as a filtration agent. The team then got down to working on a model that could address the problem of water pollution.

The three-pot water purifier
The three-pot water purifier.

“After several rounds of discussions, we came up with the three-pot purifier model. The first two pots will have three small holes through which water would pass through the filtration agents and reach the third pot. The first pot will have ‘activated carbon’, which could be prepared easily by burning coconut shell.

The second pot will have pebbles. The third one will have a tap. If you fill water in the first pot at night, the water would pass through the two filters and you will get clean, purified water from the tap in the morning,” explained Prof Babu.

His pots steeply cut down on fluoride and pesticide contamination to make available pure water for consumption “even by the aged and kids”. He said the pebbles and coconut shell carbon pieces should be changed once a fortnight.

The entire ‘device’ could cost about Rs 100 and there are plans to arrange for mass production, which could reduce the cost further.

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