NRA demanded that TEPCO drop test waste canisters to be used to hold highly radioactive sludge from the ALPS processing system. They also stopped TEPCO from operating ALPS months ago and demanded they test the system first. The systems are all still in various phases of testing due to a string of failures. Had NRA not stepped in TEPCO would have had ALPS in an attempt at full operation with now known flaws and have been using substandard canisters to hold highly radioactive waste byproducts created by the system.
TEPCO reported that a part on the crane failed and is being replaced. Had NRA not made TEPCO drop test these canisters this would have been the likely outcome.
After the drop tests showed the initial canister design to be a failure NRA required the contractor to come up with a better canister design. More on this drop testing work and the various types of failures can be found here. NRA’s more stringent oversight of TEPCO likely averted at least one major failure and radiation release today.
Read more about the ALPS system here http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2013/images/handouts_130329_01-e.pdf
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