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 operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., says its 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 “unavoidable” for the decommissioning of the Fukushima
plant, which is expected to take decades.
TEPCO 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 levels allowed for release.
Some scientists say the long-term impact on marine
life from low-dose exposure to such large volumes of water is unknown.
Under the basic plan adopted by the ministers, TEPCO will start releasing the water in about two years after building a facility under the regulatory authority's 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.
TEPCO says its water storage capacity of 1.37 million tons will be full around the fall of 2022.
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