Environmental Advocates Decry Plan to Dump Water From Fukushima Into the Pacific

Despite protestations from the locals Leaders and the Japanese public, and warnings environmental campaigners, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority on Wednesday gave its approval for a plan to discharge contaminated water from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean, a move critics say will pose a major threat to marine life.

After spending several months reviewing it, you can finally call it done. announced by then-Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s administration last spring, the NRA said Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which has discharged more than 1.2 Million Tons of treated wastewater, will be able to secure the space required to decommission the plant. Three reactors were destroyed in March 2011, following a tsunami.

If the plan is approved, the discharge will begin in 2023. However, critics, including the governor of a neighboring state, are calling for TEPCO to look at other options.

The plan “will extensively affect many industries in the prefecture, including fisheries, that are only now recovering from the earthquake damage,” said Gov. After the central government had proposed the discharge, Yoshihiro Murai from Miyagi Prefecture was granted the discharge last year.

TEPCO will use an Advanced Liquid Processing System, ALPS, to treat wastewater that has been transported to Fukushima in order to cool fuel from the melted nuclear reactors. It has also mixed with rainwater since the tsunami.

According to TEPCO water will be diluted to one-40th the concentration allowed in Japan.

However, the system is unable to remove tritium from water. Tritium is a radioactive isotope that is part of hydrogen. South Korean officials and fishermen from the area expressed concern about the possibility that tritium might harm the Pacific marine life.

TEPCO also acknowledged in 2018 that other isotopes including ruthenium, cobalt, strontium, and plutonium, “sometimes slip through the ALPS process,” according to Science.

“These radioactive isotopes behave differently than tritium in the ocean and are more readily incorporated into marine biota or seafloor sediments,” Ken Buesseler, a marine chemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, told the magazine last year.

The Japan Fisheries Cooperatives told Prime Minister Fumio Kishida last month that its opposition to the water discharge plan, which it previously stated last year, “remains exactly the same.”

“We just hope people in the fisheries industry will be able to continue fishing with peace of mind,” Hiroshi Kishi, head of the cooperative, told Kyodo News.

Following the NRA’s endorsement, the discharge plan could be officially approved as early as July. Thursday will see the International Atomic Energy Agency inspect Fukushima’s Fukushima plant. South Korean officials will be monitoring the plan.