After the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) was chosen by the national government to conduct decontamination pilot projects at selected sites in Fukushima prefecture. Despite tight boundary conditions in terms of timescale and resources, the projects served their primary purpose to develop a knowledge base to support more effective planning and implementation of stepwise regional remediation of the evacuated zone. A range of established, modified and newly developed techniques were tested under realistic field conditions and their performance characteristics were determined. The results of the project can be summarized in terms of site characterization, cleanup and waste management.
A range of options were investigated to reduce the volumes of waste produced and to ensure that decontamination water could be cleaned to the extent that it could be discharged to normal drainage. Resultant solid wastes were packaged in standard flexible containers, labelled and stored at the remediation site (temporary storage until central interim storage becomes available). The designs of such temporary storage facilities were tailored to available sites, but all designs included measures to ensure mechanical stability (e.g., filling void spaces between containers with sand, graded cover with soil) and prevent releases to groundwater (impermeable base and cap, gravity flow drainage including radiation monitors and catch tanks). Storage site monitoring was also needed to check that storage structures would not be perturbed by external events that could include typhoons, heavy snowfalls, freeze/thaw cycles and earthquakes.