From Nippon Television (1/25/2013):
TEPCO says it wants to treat the contaminated water to lower the radioactivity and discharge the treated water into the ocean, if the consent from people in the fishing industry is obtained.
The water contaminated with radioactive materials keeps increasing at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. TEPCO is building more storage tanks to deal with the water.
Yesterday, TEPCO explained to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about their plan to treat the water to lower the level of contamination and discharge the treated water into the ocean.
TEPCO emphasizes that they won't release the water into the ocean unless they can obtain the consent from people in the fishing industry. However, there's a limit to how many storage tanks can be installed in the compound, and there is no final disposal plan for the contaminated water that keeps accumulating.
The last time I heard about this news was, I think, about a year ago. Somehow TEPCO has come up with extra storage since. Way back in June 2011, TEPCO wanted to dump the water in the reactor and turbine buildings at Fukushima II (Daini) after treating the water. That plan went nowhere partly because of strong objection from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries who probably worried more about "baseless rumors" than the actual, potential harm to the marine life.
I doubt that fishermen in Tohoku and Kanto would agree. They have already been selling the fish they catch, which are contaminated with radioactive cesium to varying degrees (hopefully below 100 Bq/kg but they only sample test). They certainly do not want to draw attention to the marine contamination by having TEPCO dump the water from the plant, no matter how "clean" it may be.
TEPCO has been counting on Toshiba's ALPS to come online at Fukushima I, which will remove virtually all radionuclides (except for tritium). The ALPS was ready for a "hot" test (using contaminated water) when when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission demanded that the vessels used in ALPS be sturdy enough to withstand the drop from up to 6 meters high. Now, until TEPCO and Toshiba come up with such vessels, the ALPS cannot even be tested.
So now, the talk is back, of dumping the water into the ocean.
Let's see what else (other than dumping the water) can they do? One of the nuclear researchers that I follow on Twitter has a suggestion:
Build a boiler, use it to evaporate water. What's left is radioactive materials. Use bitumen to immobilize them, put them in containers and store them.
I have no idea if this ever occurred to TEPCO, or if this is a valid method. Maybe it did occur to TEPCO, may it didn't. Just as it didn't occur to them that the highly radioactive water might be leaking, or that they should just violate some peacetime law and regulations and drive on the highway with truckload of batteries.