AP News reported that Japan’s nuclear regulator approved plans by the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant to release its treated radioactive wastewater into the sea in 2023.
The plan was submitted by the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEMPCO) in December 2021 and will become official after a 30-day public review.
According to the regulator, the methods are safe and will have little environmental risk, reported AP News.
AP News also reported that “the government and TEPCO say more than 60 isotopes selected for treatment can be lowered to meet safety standards, except for tritium, but that it is safe if diluted.”
TEPCO will transport treated water through a pipeline from the tanks to a coastal facility, where it is then diluted with seawater and enters an undersea tunnel. Once this occurs, the water will be discharged at a point about 0.6 mile from the plant, reported AP News. The plan aims to ensure safety and reduce harmful impacts to the environment and specifically local fishing.
AP News notes “that Japan nuclear authority chairman Toyoshi Fuketa said that the plan is made conservatively so the radiation impact on the environment could be still below the legal limit in case of any thinkable risks.”
International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Director Mariano Grossi is in Japan to meet with top officials including Fuketa to discuss the plan, reported AP News.
The government and TEPCO aim to gradually release the treated water beginning in spring 2023.
Currently, the contaminated water is being stored in approximately 1,000 tanks at the plant. The IAEA has been tapped for assistance to oversee that the water release meets international safety standards, reported AP News. Thus far, an IAEA team visited the plant in February and March and issued a report that the plan is making “significant progress.”