Radioactive water: Release contaminated Fukushima water into sea: Japan panel

  • Radioactive water: Release contaminated Fukushima water into sea: Japan panel

Radioactive water: Release contaminated Fukushima water into sea: Japan panel

The industry ministry Friday recommended releasing treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant into the ocean, saying it would be preferable to releasing it into the atmosphere by boiling it.

The panel under the industry ministry came to the conclusion after narrowing the choice to either releasing the contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean or letting it evaporate - and opted for the former.

Storage tanks for radioactive water at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant on January 29.

It is meant to solve a growing problem for the plant's operator stuck between limited storage space for the water and an imminent backlash from the public and possibly neighboring countries.

The government will make the final decision on the disposal method.

Addressing the possible social effects of the two options, the panel accepted that vaporized water in the atmosphere would greatly expand the geographic and industrial range of businesses possibly affected by negative publicity. Experts say there is no established method to fully separate tritium from water, but it is not a problem in small amounts. Government officials also say tritium is routinely released from existing nuclear power plants around the world.

They said releasing the wastewater into the sea only needs simple equipment and monitoring the spread of radioactive materials in the sea will be easier to do than in the air. However, the method can have a huge impact on the still-struggling fishing industry of Fukushima.

The report acknowledges the water releases would harm industries that still face reluctant consumers despite diligent safety checks.

Under the proposal considered by the subcommittee, the water would be treated a second time to dilute tritium levels to below current safety standards before releasing it into the ocean.

In 2011, three of the core nuclei of Fukushima Dai-ichi were melted after a tsunami.

TEPCO is now storing approximately 1.8 million tonnes of radioactive water and has only room for a maximum of 1.37 million tonnes, or until the summer of 2022.

That capacity is expected to be reached in summer 2022 as water still has to be pumped into the nuclear reactors to cool the melted nuclear fuel produced by a triple meltdown triggered by the 2011 quake and tsunami disaster.

The report ruled out long-term storage outside the plant - a method favored by many Fukushima residents. It mentioned difficulties in getting permission from landowners and transportation challenges, as well as the risk of corrosion leakage, a tsunami or other disasters and accidents.