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10 years on: Fukushima radioactive water issue remains unsettled

  • March 4, 2021
  • , Jiji Press , 12:30 p.m.
  • English Press
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Tokyo, March 4 (Jiji Press)–The problem of radioactive water from the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant remains unresolved, a decade after Japan’s worst nuclear accident there.

The government plans to dilute radioactive substances in such water to levels that do not affect humans and release it into the ocean. Local fishery workers, however, oppose the move.


The Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. <9501> plant in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, has over 1,000 tanks, whose height and diameter top 10 meters, to store such water.


Such water is created after ground water flowing into the reactor buildings and water to cool the reactors touch the nuclear fuel debris left at the plant. It is stored in these tanks after being purified with special equipment, which cannot remove radioactive tritium.


The process has so far produced 1.25 million tons of such treated water. These tanks are predicted to reach full capacity as soon as autumn 2022.


Government and TEPCO officials are worried that the issue of treated radioactive water, unless addressed early, may hinder work to decommission the plant. It is a “matter that we must make a decision on at some point,” industry minister Hiroshi Kajiyama said at a press conference Friday.


The government plans to dilute the amount of tritium in such water to about one-40th of the national standard, which is less than 60,000 becquerels per liter of water, and release it into the ocean.


The plan will reduce the level of contamination below the World Health Organization‘s drinking water quality guidelines. Releases of such treated radioactive water into the ocean have already been undertaken overseas and at other nuclear plants in Japan.


Last autumn, the government was set to make a decision on the ocean release of the Fukushima water. But the move drew fierce opposition from local fishery workers, forcing the government to postpone its decision.


As part of efforts to win understanding of the water release plan, the government included funding for public relations activities focusing on the matter in a supplementary budget.


But the government has yet to dispel concerns among local fishery workers who aim to resume full-fledged operations after the nuclear accident.


“We remain opposed,” Tetsu Nozaki, head of the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations, told Jiji Press on Feb. 24.

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