Quantcast

Japan May Dump Radioactive Fukushima Water Into the Pacific in 'Only Option' of Disposal

Oceans
This picture taken on Jan. 31, 2018 from an observatory room shows storage tanks for contaminated water at the Tokyo Electric Power Company, Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture. BEHROUZ MEHRI / AFP / Getty Images

The operator of the ruined Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant may have to dump huge amounts of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean. The company no longer has room to store it, said Yoshiaki Harada, Japan's environment minister, today, as Japan Today reported.


Eight years after an earthquake and tsunami triggered Japan's worst nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which is 160 miles north of Tokyo, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) has continued to pump water in to cool fuel cores. Once it is used and contaminated, the water is put into storage, according to CNN.

TEPCO has collected more than 1 million metric tons of contaminated water used to cool the nuclear reactor. "The only option will be to drain it into the sea and dilute it," said Harada at a news briefing in Tokyo, as Japan Today. "The whole of the government will discuss this, but I would like to offer my simple opinion."

Harada did not say how much water would need to be released into the ocean.

However, in a separate press briefing, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, said Harada's comments were "his personal opinion."

"There is no fact that the method of disposal of contaminated water has been decided," said Suga, as CNN reported. "The government would like to make a decision after making thorough discussion," he said.

TEPCO is not able to say what will be done with the contaminated water, but will have to wait for a government decision, a spokesperson said, as Japan Today reported.

Besides releasing the water into the ocean, other options include storing it on land or vaporizing it, according to the Guardian.

Dumping the waste into the ocean will anger local fisherman and Japan's neighbors.

Last month, South Korea's government minister for environmental affairs, Kwon Se-jung, summoned Tomofumi Nishinaga, head of economic affairs at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, how the Fukushima water would be handled, according to CNN.

"The South Korean government is well aware of the impact of the treatment of the contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant on the health and safety of the people of both countries, and to the entire nation," said a South Korean ministry press release.

"We're just hoping to hear more details of the discussions that are under way in Tokyo so that there won't be a surprise announcement," said a South Korean diplomat to Reuters. The diplomat requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of bilateral discussions.

Six years ago, when Tokyo won the bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assured the Olympic Committee that waste and contamination from Fukushima was under control. Now, the country is facing renewed pressure to address its contaminated water problems before next summer's games, as the Guardian reported.

The Japanese government has spent over $320 million to an underground barrier to prevent groundwater from reaching the three damaged nuclear reactors. However, the wall has only reduced the flow of groundwater from about 500 metric tons to around 100 metric tons per day, as the Guardian reported.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaking with attendees at the 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention at the George R. Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco. Gage Skidmore / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

California Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed new restrictions on oil exploration in his state yesterday by putting a moratorium on hundreds hydraulic fracturing permits until the projects are reviewed by independent scientists, as the AP reported.

Read More Show Less
The endangered Houston toad. Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

While the planet continues to heat up, almost every single one of the 459 species listed as endangered in the U.S. will struggle as the climate crisis intensifies, according to new research published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
"This singular scientific achievement was accomplished at Heliogen's commercial facility in Lancaster, California." Heliogen

A startup backed by Bill Gates unveiled a breakthrough solar technology Tuesday that could free heavy industry from fossil fuels.

Read More Show Less
Rhodiola rosea is an adaptogenic herb that can help with chronic fatigue and stress-related burnout. Tero Laakso / Flickr

By Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD

While everyone has specific life stressors, factors related to job pressure, money, health, and relationships tend to be the most common.

Stress can be acute or chronic and lead to fatigue, headaches, upset stomach, nervousness, and irritability or anger.

Read More Show Less
A video shows a woman rescuing a koala from Australia's wildfires. VOA News / YouTube screenshot

More than 350 koalas may have died in the wildfires raging near the Australian town of Port Macquarie in New South Wales, but one got a chance at survival after a woman risked her life to carry him to safety.

Read More Show Less