Japan to release treated Fukushima water into the sea
April 13, 2021 - Japan’s government decided Tuesday to start releasing treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean in two years – an option fiercely opposed by fishermen, residents and Japan’s neighbours.
The accumulating water has been stored in tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi plant since 2011, when a massive earthquake and tsunami damaged its reactors and their cooling water became contaminated and began leaking. The plant’s storage capacity will be full late next year.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the ocean release was the most realistic option and that disposing of the water is needed to complete the decades-long decommissioning of the Fukushima plant. He said the government would work to make sure the water is safe and to help local agriculture, fisheries and tourism.
The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., and government officials say tritium, which is not harmful in small amounts, cannot be removed from the water, but all other selected radionuclides can be reduced to releasable levels. Some scientists say the long-term impact on marine life from low-dose exposure to such large volumes of water is unknown.