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» Mountains of discarded protection suits piling up at Fukushima No.1

Mountains of discarded suits designed to protect workers from radiation at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant are piling up as low-level radioactive waste.

As of the end of September, 33,300 cubic meters of discarded suits were stored on the plant’s premises — enough to fill about 70 25-meter swimming pools.

TEPCO plans to start burning the discarded suits at an incineration facility next autumn, about half a year later than originally planned, but it’s possible TEPCO won’t be able to keep up with the amount being discarded. In the meantime, it seems it has no immediate solution to the problem of waste being produced as an offshoot of work to deal with mounting volumes of radioactive water.

As of August, roughly 5,800 workers on average were engaged in construction work and the handling of debris at the disaster-hit nuclear power plant each day. All such workers wear suits to protect them from radiation. Masks and protective footwear can be washed and used again, but the workers’ Tyvek coveralls, triple-layered gloves, double-layered socks and other such items are discarded. Sometimes the items are tainted with contaminated water or soil, so they are treated as radioactive waste.

Protective clothing is stuffed into containers in eight locations on the plant, and over the past six months it has been piled up at the rate of roughly 1,000 cubic meters per month. In December 2012, TEPCO applied to the government to build a new incineration facility on the north side of the plant’s No. 6 reactor, enabling it to reduce the amount of waste several dozen-fold Initially the company planned to have the facility running at the end of this fiscal year, but it postponed the plans in July this year, deciding to give priority to the handling of contaminated water. Operation of the new facility was subsequently delayed until October 2015.

Still, it remains unclear whether the incineration facility could handle the amount of discarded items being generated each day. Under calculations that TEPCO presented to the Nuclear Regulation Authority, the incineration facility could process about 960 cubic meters a month, roughly the same as the amount being produced during that period. It is expected that the number of workers at the plant will continue to increase, and as the situation stands, waste will only continue to build up at the plant.
<Media Report>
Discarded protective suits piling up at Fukushima nuclear plant (Mainichi Newspaper)

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