IAEA clears Fukushima to dump irradiated water into ocean
July 5, 2023 - The International Atomic Energy Agency says Japan’s plan to release irradiated waste water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean complies with international standards.
On March 17, 2023, Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant began operating equipment that is needed for its nuclear-contaminated waste water cleanup operation – a prelude to the waste water’s final release into the ocean.
A decade after an earthquake and tsunami wrecked the plant, causing the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, around 1.3 million tonnes of contaminated water has accumulated at the site.
The water is stored in more than 1,000 huge tanks scattered all over the site, at a maintenance cost of almost $900 million a year – but space has run out.
Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Company) plans to filter the irradiated water to remove isotopes, leaving only tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that is impossible to filter out of water.
They will then dilute the water until tritium levels fall to less than 1/40th of regulatory standards, before pumping it down a one-kilometre-long pipe into the Pacific Ocean.
The Japanese government confirmed in January that it will begin dumping the irradiated water into the Pacific Ocean in spring or summer 2023, despite strong opposition at home, and from its neighbours and the international community.
China believes an initial assessment shows the waste water contains more than 60 radionuclides, including tritium, which could spread by ocean currents, causing unpredictable harm to the marine environment.