(IntegrityPress.org) – Japan intends to release 1.3 million tonnes of radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear disaster into the Pacific Ocean, following approval from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The decision has sparked protests and opposition within Japan and countries around it, including China and South Korea, due to concerns about its impact on the environment and human health.
The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant experienced a severe meltdown in 2011, making it the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. The disaster was triggered by a massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that damaged the plant’s electrical and cooling systems, resulting in partial meltdowns in three of its reactors.
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the plant, exacerbated the situation by failing to promptly respond and cool the damaged reactors with seawater. Over a decade later, the process of decommissioning and cleaning up the site is expected to continue for many more years. TEPCO has accumulated a significant amount of radioactive water and coolant. This water has gotten cleaned up with the ALPS system, AKA the Advanced Liquid Processing System to remove most of the radioactive isotopes. However, it still contains tritium, a hydrogen isotope with a half-life of 12.5 years.
Currently, there is a lot of the water stored in large steel tanks, but TEPCO claims that there is no more space and cannot construct additional tanks. The company, supported by the Japanese government, has been seeking permission for years to release the water into the Pacific Ocean, stating that there are no viable alternatives.
Under the plan, the radioactive water would be mixed in with water from the sea to meet international standards for tritium levels and gradually discharged into the sea over several decades through a one-kilometer-long pipeline. However, due to the aforementioned strong opposition within Japan and the countries surrounding it, the Japanese government requested that the IAEA conduct a study on the proposed release, instead of just doing it.
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