Japan to release Fukushima Nuclear plant radioactive water into the sea
The Japanese government has decided to release treated radioactive water accumulated at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea despite continued opposition by fishermen, a source familiar with the matter said Friday.
A government panel last year recommended the ocean release of treated water, but the fisheries industry and some local governments opposed the proposal out of concern consumers would avoid seafood caught in the area.
Asked about the strong local opposition regarding the discharge of the water into the sea, Suga said he is aware that many people have such views in Fukushima.
The government has said it could not keep postponing a decision on the disposal issue, given storage capacity for water tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi complex is expected to run out as early as fall next year.
It asserts that space needs to be secured on the premises, such as for keeping melted fuel debris that will be extracted from the damaged reactors, to move forward the decades-long process of scrapping the complex.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has backed the Japanese government’s plan to dispose of the water, saying, releasing it into the sea meets global standards of practice in the nuclear industry.
The Geneva-based body’s Director General Rafael Grossi, during his visit to the Fukushima complex in February, said this is a common way to release water at nuclear power plants, even when they are not in emergency situations.
But safety concerns persist, with 15 countries and regions still restricting imports of Japanese agricultural and fishery products more than 10 years after the Fukushima nuclear crisis, caused by a devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
In addition to the local fishery industry, neighboring countries such as China and South Korea have expressed wariness over the discharge of water from the Fukushima plant into the environment.
The Fukushima Daiichi power plant, which suffered core meltdowns due to the natural catastrophe, continues to generate massive amounts of radiation-tainted water after being used to cool melted fuels.
The water is treated using an advanced liquid processing system, or ALPS, to remove most contaminants and stored in tanks on the complex premises. The process, however, cannot remove tritium, a radioactive byproduct of nuclear reactors.
In February last year, a government panel proposed various options for disposing of the water, including releasing it into the ocean as well as evaporating it.
The following month, TEPCO drafted a plan to dilute the water to below the legal limit for concentration of radioactive materials before dumping it in the sea.
The government had initially hoped to make a decision on the discharge of the treated water in October last year but later decided it would need more time for discussions.
In February last year, a government panel proposed various options for disposing of the water, including releasing it into the ocean as well as evaporating it. The following month, TEPCO drafted a plan to dilute the water to below the legal limit for concentration of radioactive materials before dumping it in the sea.