Japan to Dump Treated Radioactive Fukushima Water Into Ocean

Japan will release more than a million cubic meters of treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean, the government said Tuesday.

The controlled release likely won’t occur for another 2 years as Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. prepares for the process, according to a report from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The water will be diluted before release, and the government will strengthen efforts to monitor radioactivity, METI said.

The decision ends years of debate over how to dispose of the water that’s enough to fill more than 500 Olympic-sized swimming pools, which has been leaking into the power stations that suffered core meltdowns after an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

The radioactive water is pumped out of the facility, treated, and then stored in one of roughly 1,000 tanks at the site. The processing removes most of the radioactive elements except for tritium. Storage tanks for the water at the site are forecast to be full by mid-2022.

While South Korea and local fishing groups in Fukushima prefecture strongly oppose an ocean release, discharges are common practice in the industry and would likely meet global guidelines.

Read More: Why Japan’s Radioactive Water May End Up In the Ocean: QuickTake

A panel within Japan’s METI recommended to the government last year that the water should be released into the ocean or evaporated. The proposal stipulated that any water that is released into the environment will be re-purified and diluted to meet standards and that the discharges take place over decades, according to a December 2019 report from METI.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report in April 2020 that those recommendations were “based on a sufficiently comprehensive analysis and on a sound scientific and technical basis.”

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