Tomoaki Kishimoto, chief associate for Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s International Relations and Strategy Group
Tomoaki Kishimoto, chief associate for TEPCO’s International Relations and Strategy Group, has been working with researchers at SRNL to evaluate technologies and remediation strategies for the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

AIKEN, S.C. – As Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) continues cleanup of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, the Japanese utility is deepening its relationship with EM’s Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) and other DOE laboratories to help evaluate technologies and remediation strategies.

   TEPCO is expected to make more use of its partnership with SRNL over the next year as the company deploys a senior engineer at the laboratory full time. Initiated in 2012, this partnership includes participation by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) at the Hanford Site. 

   SRNL hosted a senior delegation of TEPCO executives involved in the Fukushima cleanup for meetings and a tour in mid-March.

   “TEPCO is certainly getting a better understanding of what the DOE national laboratories can do and at this point in the cleanup operation, they have a better understanding of what their needs are,” SRNL Associate Lab Director for Environmental Stewardship Jeff Griffin said. “We are well-positioned to help TEPCO tackle this cleanup effort.”

   TEPCO is increasingly relying on SRNL and PNNL to evaluate the likely effectiveness of specific cleanup technologies and waste management approaches at Fukushima.  

   “SRNL has really been able to help in the ‘honest broker’ role, utilizing our experience in the EM world,” Griffin said. “TEPCO is doing water cleanup, decontamination, waste management, disposition pathways — all the things we’ve been dealing with in EM for 30 years. Prior to Fukushima, Japan hadn’t really been doing this kind of cleanup work. They had to jump into it overnight.”

   Tomoaki Kishimoto, chief associate for TEPCO’s International Relations and Strategy Group, has been embedded with SRNL leadership for nearly a year and will continue to be located at the lab in Aiken for the remainder of the year. 

   “We’ve had much to learn about decommissioning and cleanup,” Kishimoto said. “SRNL, SRS (Savannah River Site), and the rest of DOE have been able to share many lessons learned and evaluations of technology that have helped us significantly. The relationship has been even more effective now that I’m here at SRNL to communicate our needs directly.”

   Griffin agreed, adding that Kishimoto’s presence at SRNL has been “tremendously” helpful. “He knows what they need and is getting to know our capabilities. He’s embedded with us and is plugged in to their emerging needs in real time.”

   Over the next year, SRNL and PNNL expect to ramp up work for TEPCO in a number of areas, including:

  • Technical support to help measure and understand hydrogen gas retention in the waste in  secondary containers;
  • Identification of the various chemical species of iodine present, and recommendations on decontamination technologies tailored to each species;
  • Selection of technologies for fuel debris cutting and decontamination; and
  • Flowsheet improvements for increased efficiency of water treatment systems. 

   Griffin noted that EM benefits significantly from the partnership. 

   “This is not just about SRNL and PNNL providing assistance — the work is truly a benefit to the EM program as well,” Griffin said. “For example, TEPCO is deploying ion exchange technology for the cleanup of the water, which is the same technology we are deploying here at SRS with the Tank Closure Cesium Removal and at Hanford with Tank Side Cesium Removal. The experience in Japan is very relevant so having the labs plugged in to what’s going on in Japan in that area has been very helpful.”