Japan plans to dump more than one million tonnes of contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean after being treated, the government said in a move that could generate tension and criticism from neighbors like South Korea.
The action, more than a decade after the nuclear disaster, could deal another blow to Fukushima’s fishing industry, which has opposed the law for years. At the same time, it ends seven years of debate on how to get rid of rainwater, groundwater and injections needed to cool the cores of nuclear reactors that melted after the tsunami of March 11, 2011. .
The water intended to be discharged in this operation, which should take several years, has been filtered several times to remove most of its radioactive substances, but not the tritium, which cannot be removed with current techniques. The substance will be diluted to meet international standards, NHK said.
The launching work is expected to begin in two years, according to the government, and the whole process is expected to take decades. The water must be filtered again to be removed and diluted to meet international standards before being discharged 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 allowed 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 move, and Tepco pledged not to dump radioactive water into the sea again 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 factory pumped 400 tonnes of water per day, which flowed along the water table in the hills near the factory. The water was then stored in the basements of the destroyed buildings, where it mixed with the highly radioactive water which is used to cool the reactors and keep them in a stable state, below 100 degrees Celsius.