Dump Fukushima contaminated water into ocean, says Japan's environment minister

Katie Ramirez
September 11, 2019

More than a million tons have been collected by TEPCO, Fukushima's operator, from the plant's cooling pipes used to keep fuel cores from melting, Japan Today reported.

Japan's environment minister has said that utility Tokyo Electric is running out of room to store contaminated water from Fukushima. According to TEPCO, that proverbial tipping point will come in 2022, so naturally, the Japanese government is reviewing ideas and plans for just what to do with it all.

"There are no other options", he said. But Yoshiaki Harada's opinion, albeit a likely influential one, isn't shared by everybody involved.

Nevertheless, in a separate conference that working day, Japan's Chief Cupboard Secretary Yoshihide Suga emphasised that the federal government experienced not settled on a system of motion.

"The Japanese government has been presented with technical options, including from U.S. nuclear companies, for removing radioactive tritium from the contaminated water - so far it has chosen for financial and political reasons to ignore these".

Harada did not elaborate on details about how much water could end up in the Pacific, and noted that "The whole of the government will discuss this, but I would like to offer my simple opinion".

A nuclear expert from the International Atomic Energy Agency said in 2018 that a controlled discharge of such contaminated water "is something which is applied in many nuclear facilities, so it is not something that is new".

Contaminated Water Fukushima Nuclear Plant

Many scientists say the water would quickly be diluted in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, and that tritium poses a low risk to human and animal health.

Harada said that any decisions would not be made lightly owing to the gravity of the situation and that the government would first have to explain the safety measures and scientific reasoning to the people in Japan as well as concerned citizens overseas.

Seoul has urged Japan to take a "wise and prudent decision" on the issue.

Tepco has claimed that the water exclusively incorporates tritium, an isotope of hydrogen that's troublesome to separate however poses little hazard to human well being.

Tepco, which also faces opposition from local fishermen, admitted previous year that the water in its tanks still contained contaminants other than tritium.

Greenpeace, which has long called on the Japanese government to invest in technology to remove radioactivity from the water, said the environmental minister's proposal is unacceptable.

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