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Japan to release treated Fukushima water into ocean, Kyodo says

Bloomberg October 17 | Updated on October 16, 2020 Published on October 16, 2020

The release may not occur for another two years; could take decades to complete; discharges a common practice in the industry

Japan is planning to release millions of gallons of treated radioactive water from its wrecked Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean, Kyodo News reported, citing unidentified people close to the matter.

The government has agreed on this plan and an official decision by the cabinet is expected as soon as this month, according to the news agency. The verdict ends years of debate over how to dispose of roughly one million cubic meters of the water, enough to fill 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools, that leaked into the power stations that suffered core meltdowns after an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

The release likely won’t occur for another two years and could take decades to complete, Kyodo said. Storage tanks for the water at the site are forecast to be full by mid-2022.

Also read: Fukushima to become solar, wind hub using farmland tainted by radiation

Megumi Furukawa, spokeswoman at the prime minister’s office, said she wasn’t able to comment. “A decision on how to dispose of the water hasn’t yet been made,” said Shuji Okuda, the director at the nuclear accident response office of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Dumping the water into the ocean threatens to hurt Japan’s relationship with South Korea, and comes despite opposition from environmental groups and the local fishing industry, which is still struggling to recover from the disaster. Discharges are a common practice in the industry and would likely meet global guidelines.

A METI panel recommended in February that the water should be released into the ocean or evaporated. Any water that is released into the environment will be re-purified and diluted to meet standards and the discharges would take place over decades, the ministry has said.

Also read: Nuclear fuel removed from crippled Japan plant

While Tepco, or Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., cycles in water to keep fuel and debris cool, about 180 cubic meters of contaminated water is pumped out of the reactor daily due to a steady flow of groundwater into the wrecked building. The tainted water is pumped out and run through a purification system called the Advanced Liquid Processing System, or ALPS, then stored in one of more than 1,000 tanks at the site.

The effort is part of the power utility’s $200-billion effort to clean up the worst atomic accident since Chernobyl.

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Published on October 16, 2020
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