Fishery industry people in Fukushima Prefecture expressed anger over Japanese Environment Minister Yoshiaki Harada’s remarks Tuesday that the only possible option to dispose of treated radioactive water at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in the northeastern Japan prefecture is to release it into the Pacific Ocean.
“There is no choice but to release the water (into the sea) and dilute it,” Harada told a press conference.
The remarks are “thoughtless, in light of his position,” said Tetsu Nozaki, head of the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations. “I want calm discussions to be held,” he said, noting that a relevant government committee continues discussing how to dispose of the water.
Nozaki has consistently voiced opposition to the release into the sea of the water from the nuclear power station, which was heavily damaged in the March 2011 powerful earthquake and tsunami.
Contaminated water at the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. <9501> plant is treated by equipment to remove radioactive substances and stored at the facility. After the treatment, however, tritium, one of such substances, remains in the water.
TEPCO expects that the plant will run out of spaces for storing the treated water around summer 2022.
“It’s wrong to assert that ‘this is the only available option’ at a time when discussions are going on at the government commission,” said Takayuki Yanai, an official of a fishery cooperative that is involved in the operation of the Onahama fish market in the city of Iwaki in Fukushima.
The fish market sells fish caught in trial operations off Fukushima.
Prices of fish at the market have been gradually rising back to the levels before the 2011 nuclear disaster, according to Yanai.
If the Fukushima No. 1 plant water is released into the sea, “safety measures we have taken and our sales promotion efforts would be shattered instantly, and our businesses will be destroyed,” he said.
In a related move, the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations urged the minister to withdraw the remarks in question.
“The remarks’ impacts are immeasurable, stoking concerns among local fishery industry people and spreading harmful rumors,” it said.
A fisher in the city of Soma, also in Fukushima, said, “The release of the water into the ocean will cause real damage,” but added, “I personally think that there is no choice but to take the step” as the amount of treated water at the nuclear plant continues to increase.