Japan considers dumping radioactive water from Fukushima into the sea

Radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power station could be dumped into the ocean, according to the company managing the damaged industrial complex, citing a lack of space to store the water.

Currently, Tokio Electric (Tepco) is storing the contaminated water in giant tanks. The possible measure was mentioned on Tuesday by Minister of the Environment Yoshiaki Harada. If approved, it would no doubt be criticized not only by fishermen but also by neighboring nations, including South Korea.

More than one million tons of contaminated water in Fukushima

Tepco, has been struggling due to the accumulation of polluted underground water that was mixed with the water used to keep the three reactors from melting since being damaged by the tsunami that hit Fukushima in March of 2011.

After the accident, the company has been treating the contaminated water to remove most radionuclides. However, there is no technology capable of eliminating tritium, an isotope of hydrogen that is very hard to separate from water and is relatively harmless. Other nuclear plants all over the world dump water with this substance into the sea. Nevertheless, Tepco disclosed last year that the water in its tanks contains other pollutants in addition to tritium.

The Fukushima plant stores more than 1 million tons of contaminated water kept in about one thousand tanks. However, the company stated that it would run out of space to store the contaminated liquid by the summer of 2022.

The decision is in the hands of the government

According to Harada, “The only option will be to drain it into the sea and dilute it. The whole of the government will discuss this, but I would like to offer my simple opinion,” he side, not disclosing the amount of water that could be dumped into the ocean.

The government is awaiting a report from an expert panel before making a final decision on how to dispose of the radioactive water.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, in a separate press briefing, described Harada’s comments as “his personal opinion”. For its part, Tepco must comply with the government’s decision.

A recent study prepared by Hiroshi Miyano who heads a committee studying the decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi at the Atomic Energy Society of Japan indicated that discharging the water after it has been diluted could take up to 17 years of work.

Both local fishermen and the authorities of South Korea have expressed their concern over the measure, as it could further affect the deteriorated fishing industry, which was hit as a consequence of the incident eight years ago. In fact, the SK Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on Tuesday asking the Japanese government to “make a wise and prudent decision on the issue.”

For more information, check Energía16

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