Japan to dispose radioactive water into the Pacific

Japan plans to release treated radioactive water from the Fukushima plant into the Pacific Ocean.

Japan will roughly dump 1 million cubic meters of water into the ocean in the coming years. The government has agreed to the procedure and is awaiting the official decision of the cabinet.

This decision comes after years of debate regarding the disposal. The Japanese national media outlets like Nikkei and the Yomiuri Shimbun reported that the activity would likely commence in 2022.

The water is said to be diluted, so it’s 40 times less the concentration before releasing into the ocean. The procedure is set to take place gradually over 30 years.

Fear of losing a livelihood

Many environmental agencies and fishing communities stand against the decision. The groups have long expressed their disagreement since the initial statements.

The chairman of the Federation of Japan Fisheries Cooperatives Hiroshi Kishistated said that the water that would be released could be a fatal blow to the fishing communities. They further complained that they would lose their livelihood as it will be clear to the population that the fish are contaminated.

In contrast to the agencies and communities, scientists say that the water will be diluted in the vastness and won’t harm marine life. However, the space to store the water has always been an issue.

The potential risk and accumulation in tissues

Tokyo Electric Power, which operates the plant, uses a method called Advanced Liquid Processing System. It removes highly radioactive substances from the water. However, it is unsuccessful when it comes to removing tritium.

The treated water contains tritium, which is a form of hydrogen but is mildly radioactive. Despite not having the ability to penetrate skin or tissues, it’s known to accumulate in living bodies over the years. This could be a potential risk to the human population and marine life in the region.

To fill 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools

In April, the International Atomic Energy Agency stated that they are ready to work with Japan to build a framework for safe disposal of the water.

The said type of ocean discharges is a common practice followed by atomic industries. Kyodo, another news agency from the country, stated that the storage tanks in the site are only capable of holding the spent water for another two years. It nearly has 1,000 tanks on the site to hold the water but is running out of capacity.

In other easy terms, the water to be released can fill up 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Apart from the opposition from the environmental and fishing communities, the agitating decision could threaten the country’s relation with South Korea.

The country still bans seafood from the region following the 2011 nuclear disaster, which stood second to the Chernobyl.

Image courtesy of MMPOP/Shutterstock

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