The authorities of Japan defended today their plans to dump water into the sea from the damaged nuclear power plant in Fukushima after treating it to remove most of the radioactive elements, although when this controversial measure will be carried out remains to be defined.
The Japanese government and the operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), have opted for this measure considering it the most viable among a range of other technically more complex options, to solve the pressing problem of the accumulation of contaminated water in the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
The Japanese authorities maintain this idea, although they must still receive more opinions from “affected communities” and make a final decision according to criteria such as “reputational damage,” according to what the person responsible for affairs at the central office said Thursday at a telematic press conference.
The controlled dumping into the Pacific has been rejected by fishermen’s associations from Fukushima, one of the industries hardest hit by the 2011 nuclear accident, as well as by neighboring countries such as China and South Korea, who fear contamination of their fishing grounds.
This is the water that has been accumulating after the disaster caused on March 11, 2011 by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that destroyed four reactors at the plant.
This water, stored in huge tanks, comes from the cooling of damaged reactor cores and underground aquifers and rain that seeps and ends up contaminated with radioactive isotopes.
The Fukushima Daiichi facilities have a water processing system that removes most of the radioactive materials considered dangerous, with the exception of tritium, an isotope present in nature although in low concentration.
The Japanese government defends that the spill into the Pacific “would conform to national security standards and the International Atomic Energy Agency,” according to Hata.
“Even if we spilled all the water stored in Fukushima Daiichi at once, the impact on human health would be considerably small,” said the ministerial official.
Around 1.22 million cubic meters of processed water are currently stored in Daiichi, while the storage capacity limit is 1.37 million and it is estimated that it could be reached next year.
The final decision on what to do with the water and the implementation of the spill will still take about two years, said Hata, who also said that “there is no exact date to reach a resolution.”
In the event that the maximum storage capacity of processed water is reached at the plant without having decided what to do with it, the operator is considering expanding the space available for the drums, said Akira Ono, head of dismantling at TEPCO.
The problem of contaminated water is one of the many challenges that TEPCO and the Japanese authorities face on the long road to dismantling Daiichi, a process that will last until at least 2050.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.