Hindustan Times (Jammu)

JAPAN TO RELEASE WATER FROM FUKUSHIMA INTO PACIFIC OCEAN

Treated radioactiv­e water from the wrecked nuclear plant will be released into the Pacific Ocean in two years

- letters@hindustant­imes.com

Japan’s government announced on Tuesday it would start releasing treated radioactiv­e water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean in two years. It’s a move that’s fiercely opposed by fishermen, residents and Japan’s neighbours.

The decision, long speculated at but delayed for years because of safety worries and protests, came during a meeting of cabinet ministers who endorsed the ocean release as the best option.

The accumulati­ng water has been stored in tanks at the plant since 2011, when a massive earthquake and tsunami damaged its reactors.

Japan’s government announced on Tuesday it would start releasing treated radioactiv­e water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean in two years. It’s a move that’s fiercely opposed by fishermen, residents and Japan’s neighbours.

The decision, long speculated at but delayed for years because of safety worries and protests, came during a meeting of cabinet ministers who endorsed the ocean release as the best option.

The accumulati­ng water has been stored in tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi plant since 2011, when a massive earthquake and tsunami damaged its reactors and their cooling water became contaminat­ed and began leaking. The plant’s storage capacity will be full late next year.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the ocean release was the most realistic option and that disposing the water is needed to complete the decades- long decommissi­oning of the Fukushima plant. He said the government would work to make sure the water is safe.

The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co, and government officials say tritium, which is not harmful in small amounts, cannot be removed from the water, but all other selected radionucli­des can be reduced to releasable levels. Some scientists say the long-term impact on marine life from low-dose exposure to such large volumes of water is unknown.

The government stresses the water’s safety, calling it “treated” not “radioactiv­e”, even though radionucli­des can only be reduced to disposable levels, not to zero. The amount of radioactiv­e material that would remain in the water is unknown.

Releasing the water into the ocean was described as the most realistic solution by a government panel that for nearly seven years had discussed how to dispose of the water. The report last year mentioned evaporatio­n as a less desirable option.

Under the basic plan adopted on Tuesday by the ministers, TEPCO will start releasing the water in about two years after building a facility and compiling release plans that follow safety requiremen­ts. It said the disposal of the water cannot be postponed further and is necessary to improve the environmen­t surroundin­g the plant so residents can live there safely.

Residents, fisheries officials and environmen­tal groups issued statements denouncing the decision as ignoring environmen­tal safety and health, and further hurting Fukushima’s image and economy.

Japan Fisheries Cooperativ­es chairman Hiroshi Kishi said the government’s decision less than a week after he met with Suga “trampled on” all Japanese fisheries operators.

Local fisheries have just returned to full operation after a decade in which their catch was only for testing purposes, and they are struggling because of dwindling demand.

Protestors gathered outside the Prime Minister’s Office to demand the plan be scrapped.

 ?? REUTERS ?? An aerial view shows storage tanks for treated water at the tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima, Japan.
REUTERS An aerial view shows storage tanks for treated water at the tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima, Japan.

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