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High concern as Japan takes another step towards releasing wastewater from crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into sea

Tokyo – The fishing industry around Japan’s Fukushima coast expressed long-expected despair and resignation over the weekend Plan to start releasing treated wastewater into the sea From Crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant One step closer to reality. The drastic measure has been adopted as the only practical way out of the dilemma that has plagued the damaged plant for more than a decade.

Late last week, Japan’s national nuclear regulator formally backed plans to release more than 1 million tons of wastewater from the plant into the ocean off Japan’s Pacific coast. The water would first be filtered to remove about 60 radioactive isotopes, with the exception of tritium, which cannot be removed using current technology.

After inspection and dilution with seawater, the water will be pumped out of Japan’s fishing areas through a 0.6-mile-long undersea tunnel, which is called the seabed starting near reactor No. 5 of the Fukushima Daiichi plant. will be engraved through.

The unprecedented, controversial settlement campaign is likely to take decades.


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Since Massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami As meltdowns began in the plant’s three reactors, operator Tepco has struggled to manage the vast amounts of contaminated water – a combination of reactor cooling water, rainwater and groundwater, all irradiated as it radiated through the highly radioactive molten reactor core. Flows through – accumulating convenience.

As a stopgap, the grounds around the damaged reactors have been turned into a giant tank farm, holding 1,310,000 tons of wastewater in more than 1,000 storage vessels.

Tepco has long warned that it will run out of storage space as early as spring 2023, and that the structures are hindering the technically challenging task of closing the plant. The temporary storage solution is also highly vulnerable to any future natural disaster.

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The Unit Three reactor building and storage tank for contaminated water at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture, Japan February 3, 2020.

Kazuhiro Nogi / AFP / Getty


In an effort to address the concerns of neighboring countries, Japan sought a review by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Last spring, IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi declared the ocean settlement “both technically feasible and in line with international practice”.

He noted that normally functioning nuclear power plants (including South Korea and China) regularly discharge wastewater into the ocean, but acknowledged that “the large volume of water at the Fukushima plant makes this a unique and complicated matter.” manufactures.,,

Before construction of the underwater tunnel can begin, however, TEPCO’s proposal must receive support from the regional government in Fukushima Prefecture and the two affected cities of Okuma and Futaba. “To be honest, even if we oppose it, I don’t think we have any chance of overturning the decision,” a representative for the Fukushima fish processing company told Asahi newspaper.

After years of painstaking efforts to convince the Japanese public and the rest of the world that their seafood is safe, the local fishing industry fears the release of the sea will spoil their brand of freshness. Tokyo has promised to buy the catch if the industry suffers reputational damage.

Of the 55 countries and territories that banned imported Japanese food after the Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe, five (China, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau) – including the US – still have import restrictions.

Regulators sought public comment and said they had received more than 1,200 responses, including people expressing concerns about whether the tunnel under the sea would be safe from earthquakes, and what was being done to protect workers.

Tokyo has said that levels of tritium – an isotope that cannot be filtered – be diluted below 1/40th of acceptable levels for discharge in Japan and 1/7th of the WHO limit for drinking water Will go

Still, some experts have called for greater transparency for fear of unintended consequences of the operation. There is also concern about whether the discharge of massive amounts of wastewater could set a bad precedent for dealing with future nuclear accidents.

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