Fukushima nuclear power plant: radioactive water to be discharged into the sea

On March 11, 2011, triggered by an earthquake, one of the worst nuclear accidents since the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster occurred at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. It resulted in a power outage, which in turn was responsible for the cooling systems in each of the reactors failing within a short time of the disaster. The residual heat in the reactor core caused the fuel rods in the reactors to overheat, partially melting and releasing radioactive material (core meltdown).

The released radiation continues to preoccupy the region to this day. This is because the destroyed reactors still must be cooled by water. The contaminated water used mixes with rainwater and groundwater, which seeps in. More than 1.3 million tons of contaminated water are currently stored in about 1000 tanks. Tepco, the company that operates the plant, says it is now running out of space and the tanks are exposed to new potential earthquakes.


Contaminated water to be discharged into the sea through filtration

As a solution, Tepco proposed to first filter the contaminated water and then discharge it into the sea. However, the system cannot filter out the radioactive isotope tritium. According to Tepco and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), this would not be a danger because the tritium in small amounts is harmless to humans and the environment and the water is diluted. The concentration is expected to drop sharply. In case the amount of seawater would not be enough for dilution or the concentration would still be high, there would be an emergency valve that would stop the release.

While experts opinion are mixed, the IAEA has inspected construction of the disposal facilities and approved Tepco’s plan. The head of the nuclear agency, Rafael Grossi said that Japan meets international safety standards.


Criticism from various parties

In addition to the criticism of some experts, many fishermen in the region are also against Tepco’s planned disposal of the cooling water. They fear a worsening of the situation and would not be able to assess the consequences of the plans. Although they have received compensation payments from the government, they fear new damage to their reputation. In addition, the government has agreed to clarify the discharge of the water with all parties, but the fishermen have not been asked.

In neighboring countries such as China, Japan’s plans have met with rejection. The government of South Korea, which previously criticized Japan’s plans, now respects the IAEA’s findings. The disposal plans are to be launched as early as this summer.

Learn more about the topic here:

Please follow and like us:
Rate this post

Greencross Switzerland