Japan plans to delay release of water from Fukushima plant

TOKYO: Japan has reviewed the timetable for a planned rejection of treaties at sea but still radioactive wastewater to Fukushima nuclear power plant to “around spring or summer”, indicating a delay from the original target of this spring, after taking into account the progress of a reject tunnel and the need to obtain support from the audience.
The government and the plant operator, Holdings of the Tokyo Electric Power Companyannounced in April 2021 a plan to start discharging treated wastewater into the sea from spring 2023.
They say more than a million tons of water stored in about 1,000 tanks at the plant are hampering its dismantling and are at risk of leaking in the event of a major earthquake or tsunami.
Under the current plan, TEPCO will transport the treated water by pipeline from the reservoirs to an onshore facility, where it will be diluted with seawater and sent through an undersea tunnel, currently under construction, to an offshore outlet.
The company recognized the possibility that harsh winter weather and sea conditions could delay the progress of the tunnel.
On Friday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters that the government had adopted a revised action plan, which includes increased efforts to ensure security and measures to financially support the local fishing industry. and a new release target “around spring or summer this year”.
TEPCO Chairman Tomoaki Kobayakawa said that despite the government’s new schedule for sewage discharge, his company is still aiming to have the facility ready by spring.
He also acknowledged a lack of local understanding of the release and pledged to continue his efforts to alleviate security concerns.
A massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011 destroyed the Fukushima factorycooling systems, causing three reactors to melt down and release large amounts of radiation. The water used to cool the damaged reactor cores, which remain highly radioactive, has since seeped into the basements of the reactor buildings and been collected, treated and stored in tanks.
The release plan was fiercely opposed by fishermen, local residents and Japan’s neighbors including China and South Korea. Fukushima residents fear that the reputation of their agricultural and fishery products will be further damaged.
Most of the radioactivity is removed from the water during processing, but tritium cannot be removed and low levels of some other radionuclides also remain. The government and TEPCO say the environmental and health impacts will be negligible as the water will be slowly released after further treatment and dilution by large amounts of seawater.
Some scientists say the impact of long-term, low-dose exposure to tritium and other radionuclides on the environment and humans is still unknown, and the release plan should be delayed. They say tritium affects humans more when consumed in fish.
Japan is cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency to increase the safety, transparency and understanding of the water disposal plan. An IAEA team that visited Japan several times for talks and factory inspections last year will travel again in January to meet with nuclear regulators and issue a final report before the start of the planned publication.


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