Second system built in Richland for Fukushima cleanup

pic of skidAn initial system designed and built in Richland to treat contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is working so well that a second system has been ordered and shipped.

Kurion shipped the first system to remove radioactive strontium from contaminated water to Japan in July, trucking it to Seattle and then loading it into a Soviet-era Antonov An-225 Mriya, the largest cargo aircraft in the world, for the trip overseas.

Since October, the system, built and tested at HiLine Engineering and Fabrication in Richland, has processed more than 12,000 tons of contaminated water. The system removed more than 99.95 percent of the strontium in the water, surpassing decontamination targets, Kurion said.

The Tokyo Electric Power Co. awarded a contract to Kurion earlier this year to strip strontium from water after a tsunami caused the meltdown of three reactors at Fukushima in 2011.

Strontium is one of the contaminants in water stored in hundreds of tanks at the Japanese plant. When Kurion started to treat the water for strontium, more than 400 tanks stored more than 400,000 tons of water.

Each day, about 400 tons of contaminated water has been added to the tanks as groundwater has continued to flood through the cracked basement of the turbine building, and some additional water has been needed for cooling fuel.

Kurion, which had already successfully treated water to remove cesium at the Fukushima plant, developed a strontium-treatment system contained in five skids — or treatment units about the size and shape of commercial shipping containers. They can be moved from one group of Fukushima tanks to another to provide treatment.

The units include equipment for removing solids suspended in the water and ion exchange systems with a proprietary material to strip dissolved strontium from the water, similar to the system Kurion delivered earlier to strip cesium from contaminated water.

“The successful performance of the first mobile process system demonstrates that our novel, at-tank approach is effective,” said John Raymont, Kurion president and founder, in a statement.

TEPCO ordered the second system in late August and Kurion, with HiLine’s help, had it built, tested and shipped to Japan by this week. It is expected to begin treating contaminated water in about a month.

When operating, it should double the amount of water treated daily to remove strontium, helping TEPCO meet its goal of accelerating cleanup. Additional contaminants that the Kurion system is not intended to address, also have to be removed.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged to have the contaminated water treated by March 15 as a step toward having significant cleanup completed by the 2020 summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Annette Cary: 509-582-1533;; Twitter: @HanfordNews

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