The biggest concern TEPCO has in Fukushima in cleaning the mess up, is tritium because it is getting into the ground water in increasing levels. The Japanese government and TEPCO do not have the resources to contain tritium-contaminated water. Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen and since naturally occurring tritium is extremely rare on earth, it means it doesn’t belong here. It is derived from nuclear reactions. In 2014, Japanese diplomats contacted Russia’s RosRAO firm in Moscow asking for assistance but nothing was pursued, however, since containing tritium in Fukushima is becoming more difficult as the days and weeks go by, RosRAO was contacted again. Along with RosRAO, the US Company Kurion Inc. and the US-Japanese GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Canada Inc., have submitted proposals for preventing tritium from leaking into the ground water around the nuclear plants in Fukushima.
Roughly 700,000 cubic meters (650,000 tons as of June, 2015) of tritium-contaminated water has accumulated and is being stored in hundreds of large steel tanks built to store the contaminated water. The Russian firm RosRAO apparently, can decontaminate the water at a far less cost than other firms. RosRao if approved by the Japanese government, will construct a large decontamination plant at Fukushima to begin decontaminating the already 700,000 cubic meters at water. Up until now, RosRao’s decontamination capacity was only between 100 and 200 cubic meters of water, but RosRAO has taken that amount up to 4,000 cubic meters that it can handle after a facility is constructed in Fukushima. Japanese engineers are at RosRAO facilities in Russia and it looks like they will be dependent on Russian technology to remove tritium from the water that is being stored and continues to accumulate. TEPCO and the Japanese government must decisively come to a conclusion soon to deploy Russia’s tritium decontamination technology because the longer the Japanese government and TEPCO delay, the higher the risk of tank deterioration and what has already been reported as leaking tanks.
Most of the labor that have been used to clean up Fukushima, have spent thousands and thousands of man hours building these steel containment containers around the nuclear plant. Currently, depending on source depended on for the news, an estimated 400 metric tons of tritium-contaminated water is being placed into these massive storage tanks. The other major cleanup going on taking up man hours, is spent scraping off several inches of contaminated top soil all over the area and storing it in one ton capacity thick black vinyl bags in neat piles which there are roughly now 10 million of these vinyl bags.