Russian Scientists to Develop Nuclear Waste Removal Technology for Fukushima


Russian nuclear scientists are developing the technology to clear Fukushima’s radioactive waste of tritium, Sergei Florya, project manager at radioactive waste management enterprise RosRAO told RIA Novosti.


“We offer unique combined technology, unlike our western colleagues. Thanks to this, we are able to achieve better production economy. The Radium Institute will develop the technology and RosRAO will build and operate the installation. The location has not been chosen yet. We are currently working on an agreement with the project’s office in Japan and we’ll get to work as soon as we’ve discussed all the details,” he said, adding that the project is expected to be finished within a year and a half.


Japanese authorities have chosen RosRAO as one of three companies to help treat and dispose of the radioactive waste accumulated after the Fukushima disaster, the others being US company Kurion and nuclear alliance GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy Canada.


Each company is expected to receive 1 billion yen ($9.6 million) for their work, which they are due to submit by the end of March 2016.


“For the first time in history, we have a situation where such a high volume of radioactive liquid – 800,000 cubic meters – is concentrated in one place. The level of tritium here is 10,000 times greater than the maximum limit set by the World Health Organization. The cleanup technology currently used in Fukushima makes it possible to clean the waste of cesium and strontium, but not of tritium,” Florya said.


The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster took place in March 2011 and was the largest nuclear incident since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. The accident occurred when the plant was hit by a 14-meter (46-foot) tsunami, triggered by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake.


Some 140,000 people were evacuated from settlements within 20 kilometers (12 miles) of the power plant, many of whom have been unable to return to their homes due to high levels of contamination in the area. Complete decommissioning of the power plant could take up to 40 years.