Japan to release Fukushima's contaminated water into sea

  • Japan to release Fukushima's contaminated water into sea

Japan to release Fukushima's contaminated water into sea

The ministry also said the government has been handling the issue under a vice-ministerial inter-agency dialogue platform, amid public safety concerns over Japanese media reports that Tokyo has chose to release it into the sea with an official announcement likely to come as early as this month.

A possible release is expected to antagonize Japanese fishermen and raise concerns in neighbouring countries.

The treated water is now kept in a thousand huge tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi site, where reactors went into meltdown almost a decade ago after the earthquake-triggered tsunami. Almost 1.2 million tonnes of contaminated water are now stored in huge tanks at the facility.

Tokyo Electric has collected more than a million tonnes of contaminated water since the plant was crippled by the quake and the following tsunami.

The release of the water "could deal a fatal blow to the future of Japanese fishery", said Hiroshi Kishi, the chairman of the Federation of Japan Fisheries Cooperatives. "To prevent any delays in the decommissioning process, we need to make a decision quickly", he told a news conference. The International Atomic Energy Agency argues that properly filtered water could be diluted with seawater and then safely released into the ocean.

In 2018, Tokyo Electric apologised after admitting its filtration systems had not removed all risky material from the water, collected from the cooling pipes used to keep fuel cores from melting when the plant was crippled.

Before disposing of the contaminated water, the government plans to use ALPS for a second processing to lower levels of all radioactive materials except for tritium, a mildly radioactive isotope of hydrogen, under legal standards.

It is common practice for nuclear plants around the world to release water that contain traces of tritium into the ocean.

The water would be diluted inside the plant before release so it is 40 times less concentrated, the Yomiuri Shimbun said, with the whole process taking 30 years. The IAEA said both options were used by operating nuclear plants.

Last week, officials from the Japanese fishing industry urged the government not to allow the water to be released into the sea, saying it would undo years of work to restore its reputation.

South Korea maintained a seafood import ban from the Fukushima area imposed after the nuclear disaster and past year called on a senior official from the Japanese embassy to explain how to use water in Fukushima.

The build-up of contaminated water at Fukushima has been a sticking point in the clean-up, which is likely to last decades, especially as the delayed Olympic Games are due to be held in Tokyo next northern summer.

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