Fukushima Wastewater Destined for Pacific: Reports

Formal announcement is reportedly coming soon
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 16, 2020 9:28 AM CDT
Fukushima Wastewater Destined for Pacific: Reports
This April 23, 2019, file photo shows the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan, where decommissioning work is underway.   (Suo Takekuma/Kyodo News via AP, File)

Japan's government has decided to release some 1.3 million tons of contaminated water from the Fukushima power plant into the ocean as speculated. That's according to local media reports published Friday. Reuters reports a formal announcement will come later this month, though Japan's industry minister Hiroshi Kajiyama said Friday that an official decision had yet to be made. The company that runs the plant devastated by a 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, has said it will run out of room to store the water, kept in more than 1,000 huge storage tanks at the site, by summer 2022. The water keeps accumulating as 187 tons of groundwater mix with water used to keep three damaged reactor cores from melting each day, reports the Guardian.

Before hitting the Pacific Ocean, the water will be filtered and diluted with seawater—a process that will take about two years, reports Asahi Shimbun. Tokyo Electric has said it will filter out all radioactive particles except tritium, an isotope of hydrogen. Coastal nuclear power plants commonly release trace amounts of tritium into the ocean. Still, "the decision is expected to rankle neighbouring countries like South Korea, which has already stepped up radiation tests of food from Japan, and further devastate the fishing industry in Fukushima that has battled against such a move for years," per Reuters. Other strategies of dealing with the water before the plant is decommissioned, including evaporation and the construction of more tanks, have been debated, per the Guardian. (More Fukushima Daiichi stories.)

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