Japan intends to dump more than 1 million tonnes of contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean after being treated, the government announced in a decision that should generate tensions and criticism from neighbors like South Korea.
The action, more than a decade after the nuclear disaster, could result in a new blow to the Fukushima fishing industry, which has been opposed to the act for years. At the same time, it ends seven years of debate on how to dispose of water from rain, groundwater and the injections needed to cool the nuclei of the nuclear reactors that melted after the March 11, 2011 tsunami.
The water destined to be released in this operation, which should take several years, has been filtered repeatedly to eliminate most of its radioactive substances, but not tritium, which cannot be eliminated with current techniques. The substance will be diluted to meet international standards, said NHK.
The work to launch the waters should start in two years, according to the government, and the whole process should take decades. The water needs to be filtered again to be removed and diluted to fit international standards before it is dumped into the ocean.
The nuclear accident at the Japanese plant was the most serious since the destruction of the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine in 1986.
In the first weeks after the disaster, the Japanese government authorized Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Co.) to dump tens of thousands of tons of contaminated water into the Pacific.
Neighboring countries and local fishermen criticized the decision, and Tepco promised that it would no longer throw radioactive water into the sea without the consent of local authorities in the region.
At the time, Tepco said it was taking several measures to prevent contaminated water from leaving the bay near the plant. The plant pumped 400 tons of water daily, which flowed down the water table of the hills near the plant. The water was then stored in the basements of the destroyed buildings, where it mixed with the highly radioactive water that is used to cool the reactors and keep them in a stable state, below 100 degrees Celsius.