Sep 11, 2019

Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Wastewater Discharge Plan Criticized

Environmental minister recommends releasing radioactive wastewater into Pacific Ocean

The Japanese environmental minister received criticism for saying the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant should discharge radioactive wastewater into the ocean.
The Japanese environmental minister received criticism for saying the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant should discharge radioactive wastewater into the ocean.

Japanese Environmental Minister Yoshiaka Harada received criticism from the public and other governmental leaders after recommending 1 million tons of wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant be discharged into the Pacific Ocean.

According to The Guardian, the facility sustained damage from the 2011 tsunami, which lead to it storing more than 1 million tons of wastewater. The water had bee used to cool its reactors following the tsunami. The tsunami also “triggered multiple meltdowns that forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents,” according to the report from The Guardian.

The facility claims it is running out of storage space for the contaminated water. Despite its efforts to remove radionuclides from the wastewater, traces of tritium still remain. Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that commonly is released by coastal nuclear power plants when wastewater is discharged, according to The Guardian

The plan to release the wastewater into the ocean has garnered criticism on social media in addition to the fishing industry in Japan. The degree to which the wastewater would be treated before it is discharged into the ocean is not clear according to multiple news reports.

“The only option will be to drain it into the sea and dilute it,” Harada said during a news briefing in Tokyo, according to The Guardian report. “The whole of the government will discuss this, but I would like to offer my simple opinion.”

The discharge of this wastewater will not take place until a panel of experts can weigh in on the issue as other options such as building additional storage or vaporizing it also are on the table.

The issue has also garnered attention from Japan’s neighbor South Korea, which had called up on the Japanese embassador to explain how the wastewater will be disposed, according to a Reuters report.

“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,” a South Korean diplomat told Reuters.

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