The operator of the ruined Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant may have to dump huge amounts of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean. The company no longer has room to store it, said Yoshiaki Harada, Japan’s environment minister, today, as Japan Today reported.
Eight years after an earthquake and tsunami triggered Japan’s worst nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which is 160 miles north of Tokyo, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) has continued to pump water in to cool fuel cores. Once it is used and contaminated, the water is put into storage, according to CNN.
TEPCO has collected more than 1 million metric tons of contaminated water used to cool the nuclear reactor. “The only option will be to drain it into the sea and dilute it,” said Harada at a news briefing in Tokyo, as Japan Today. “The whole of the government will discuss this, but I would like to offer my simple opinion.”
Harada did not say how much water would need to be released into the ocean.
However, in a separate press briefing, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, said Harada’s comments were “his personal opinion.”
“There is no fact that the method of disposal of contaminated water has been decided,” said Suga, as CNN reported. “The government would like to make a decision after making thorough discussion,” he said.
TEPCO is not able to say what will be done with the contaminated water, but will have to wait for a government decision, a spokesperson said, as Japan Today reported.
Besides releasing the water into the ocean, other options include storing it on land or vaporizing it, according to the Guardian.
Radioactive water from Fukushima nuclear plant may have to be released into Pacific, Japan says https://t.co/fEz3JDUyTg
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) September 10, 2019
Dumping the waste into the ocean will anger local fisherman and Japan’s neighbors.
Last month, South Korea’s government minister for environmental affairs, Kwon Se-jung, summoned Tomofumi Nishinaga, head of economic affairs at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, how the Fukushima water would be handled, according to CNN.
“The South Korean government is well aware of the impact of the treatment of the contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant on the health and safety of the people of both countries, and to the entire nation,” said a South Korean ministry press release.
“We’re just hoping to hear more details of the discussions that are under way in Tokyo so that there won’t be a surprise announcement,” said a South Korean diplomat to Reuters. The diplomat requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of bilateral discussions.
Six years ago, when Tokyo won the bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assured the Olympic Committee that waste and contamination from Fukushima was under control. Now, the country is facing renewed pressure to address its contaminated water problems before next summer’s games, as the Guardian reported.
The Japanese government has spent over $320 million to an underground barrier to prevent groundwater from reaching the three damaged nuclear reactors. However, the wall has only reduced the flow of groundwater from about 500 metric tons to around 100 metric tons per day, as the Guardian reported.