A top government spokesperson announced on Friday that Japan intends to begin discharging more than a million tons of treated water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean this year.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has approved the proposal, but the government will hold off on publicizing it until it has received “a detailed report” from the UN watchdog, according to chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno.
The greatest nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl occurred in 2011 when a major underwater earthquake and wave overloaded cooling systems at the plant. Work on decommissioning has begun and is anticipated to take about 40 years.
In the months of April through November of last year, the site produced an average of 100 cubic meters (3,500 cubic feet) of polluted water every day, which included groundwater, seawater, rainwater that seeped into the region, and water used for cooling. With more than 1.3 million cubic meters of water already on site and limited space, the water is filtered to eliminate various radionuclides and transferred to storage tanks.
After the release facilities have been finished and tested and the IAEA’s entire report has been made public, Matsuno stated that “we expect the timeframe of the release would be somewhere around this spring or summer.”
The entire government will use all possible effort to maintain safety and take precautions against unfavorable rumors. The remarks make reference to ongoing worries about the release plan expressed by neighboring nations and regional fishing groups.
Fishermen in the area worry that the release may harm their reputation after spending years trying to restore consumer confidence in their products through rigorous testing.
With the exception of one radioactive element, tritium, which experts claim is only dangerous to people in high quantities, the treated water, according to plant operator TEPCO, complies with national guidelines for radionuclide levels.
It intends to use a one kilometer (0.6 miles) long undersea pipe to disperse the water offshore over a number of decades after diluting it to lower the tritium levels.
According to the IAEA, the release “will not harm the environment” and complies with international regulations. The idea has drawn criticism from the region’s neighbors, notably China and South Korea, as well as organizations like Greenpeace.
Around 18,500 individuals were murdered or went missing in the northeastern Japan tragedy in March 2011, with the tsunami killing the majority of them. Thousands of locals in the vicinity of the Fukushima plant were either forced to leave their homes or made the decision to do so.
Although no-go zones now only comprise about two percent of the Fukushima region, the population in many communities is still significantly fewer than it was before.