Japan has unveiled plans to release more than one million tonnes of treated water from the disabled Fukushima nuclear power plant, epicentre of the disaster following the tsunami in 2011.
Japan’s Inter-Ministerial Council for Contaminated Water, Treated Water and Decommissioning Issues said the water is currently stored in tanks at the site of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station after radioactive materials are removed from the contaminated water to the maximum
extent using the Multi-nuclides Removal Equipment (ALPS).
In its report, the body states that long-term storage is not feasible due to the risk of leakage.
A recent earthquake on 13th February has reportedly caused a shift in the position of some tanks at the site and measures such as replacement of some piping were needed.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has endorsed the release stating that controlled discharges into the sea are “routinely used by operating nuclear power plants and fuel cycle facilities in Japan and worldwide.”
Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said: “Disposal of ALPS treated water is an unavoidable issue in order to proceed with the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and achieve the reconstruction of Fukushima.
“For this reason, for more than six years, we have examined experts, evaluated from international organisations and explained to the people concerned, judged that ocean release is realistic and compiled the basic policy.
The government’s decision has already stirred controversy from local communities and environmental groups.
In a statement, Greenpeace said: “Today the Japanese Government decided to dump over 1.23 million tonnes of Fukushima radioactive waste water stored into the Pacific Ocean.
“This decision completely disregards the human rights and interests of the people in Fukushima, wider Japan and the Asia-Pacific region.
“The Cabinet’s decision failed to protect the environment and neglected the large-scale opposition and concerns of the local Fukushima residents, as well as the neighbouring citizens around Japan.
“While it has been said it would take around two years to prepare for the discharge, the decision allows radioactive waste discharge process to begin.
To remember the lives affected by the Fukushima disaster, ELN has prepared a ten-year anniversary special feature story.