Russia completes design papers for Fukushima tritium removal

09 July 2015

Russia's Atomproekt has completed the draft design and working documents for a demonstration unit to separate tritium from contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. Construction of the facility is expected to start early next year.

If the demonstration unit is successful, a full-scale facility could be built at the plant to remove tritium from 400 cubic metres of contaminated water per day. An Atomproekt statement yesterday said that talks with Japanese experts on the design of this facility had already started.

Atomproekt said the documents it has completed detail the design, construction, piping, ventilation and electrical systems for the demonstration facility that would verify the performance of tritium separation technology. They also include land resettlement and architectural solutions, the company said.

Saint Petersburg-based Atomproekt was commissioned in February to develop the documents by another Rosatom subsidiary, FSUE Radioactive Waste Management Enterprise (RosRAO). The Japanese government in August selected RosRAO - and the Khlopin Radium Institute - as one of three overseas companies for the demonstration project. The other two companies Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) selected to demonstrate their respective technologies are the USA's Kurion and GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy Canada.

The aim of the demonstration projects is both to verify the tritium separation technology and also to assess the construction and operating costs for full-scale implementation of the technology at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The technology must be capable of removing tritium from water with concentrations of 0.6 and 4.2 million bequerels per litre and to be expandable to process more than 400 cubic metres per day.

A fund to subsidise the projects is being managed by the Mitsubishi Research Institute on behalf of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, part of METI. The upper limit for subsidies will be JPY 1 billion ($9.4 million) per project. The projects will run until the end of March 2016.

While the current decontamination equipment at Fukushima Daiichi is able to remove some 62 nuclides from the contaminated water, it is unable to remove the tritium in it. METI said it has yet to decide whether to introduce tritium removal facilities at the plant.

Tritium is produced during the operation of water-cooled reactors and its usual disposal route is a monitored outflow to a large body of water, but public opinion in Japan will not allow this.

Atomproekt noted that, together with the Leningrad District branch of RosRAO, it had worked on the development of a facility for processing liquid waste contaminated with tritium in 2011. This technology, called Triton, "can significantly reduce the volume of radioactive waste to prepare it for safe disposal", Atomproekt said.

RosRAO began operations in 2009 for the management of used nuclear fuel, non-nuclear radioactive waste, and decommissioning services, especially of submarines. Then in 2011, NO RAO was created to consolidate these activities as the national manager of Russia's used nuclear fuel and radioactive waste. RosRAO aims to be a global provider of back-end fuel cycle services.

Atomproekt - the former VNIPIET (All-Russia Science Research and Design Institute of Power Engineering Technology), which since 2013 incorporates Saint Petersburg Atomenergoproekt (SPbAEP) - designs nuclear power projects, radiochemical plants and waste facilities.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News