Daily US Times: On Tuesday, the government of Japan decided to start releasing massive amounts of treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean in two years. The decision is fiercely opposed by local fishermen and residents.
The decision, long speculated but delayed for years due to protests and safety concerns, came at a meeting of Cabinet ministers who endorsed the ocean release as the best option.
The accumulating water has been stored in tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi plant since 2011, when a massive tsunami and earthquake damaged the nuclear plant’s reactors and their cooling water became contaminated and began leaking.
Tokyo Electric Power Co., The plant’s operator, says its storage capacity will be full late next year.
Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the ocean release was the “most realistic” option and that disposing the water is “unavoidable” for the decommissioning of the Fukushima plant, which is expected to take decades.
Government officials and TEPCO say tritium, which is not harmful in small amounts, can’t be removed from the water, but all other selected radionuclides can be reduced to levels allowed for release.
Some scientists say the long-term impact on marine life from low-dose exposure to such large volumes of water is not known yet.
TEPCO will start releasing the water in about two years after building a facility under the regulatory authority’s safety requirements, according to the basic plan adopted by the ministers.