Minimal impact of the Fukushima water discharge

TOKYO (AP) – The operator of the tsunami-destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant said on Wednesday that a data simulation of its planned release of treated radioactive water into the sea suggests it would have an extremely small impact on environment, marine life and humans.

The Japanese government and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings have announced that they will begin phasing out water in spring 2023 so that hundreds of the plant’s storage tanks can be removed to make way for facilities necessary for its decommissioning.

The plan was fiercely opposed by fishermen, residents and neighbors of Japan, including China and South Korea.


TEPCO plans to send the water through an underwater tunnel and discharge it about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) from the coastal power plant after treating and diluting it with large amounts of seawater. .

According to the simulation, radiation levels from seawater just above the discharge point temporarily increased slightly but quickly fell to normal levels, TEPCO said.

Government and TEPCO officials say tritium, which is not harmful in small amounts, cannot be removed from contaminated water, but all other isotopes selected for processing can be reduced to safe levels. Controlled release of tritium from normal nuclear power plants is a common global practice, officials say.

The simulation showed a slight increase in tritium levels within 2-3 kilometers (1.2-1.8 miles) of the plant, TEPCO official Junichi Matsumoto said.

But some experts say the long-term impact on marine life from low-dose exposures is still unknown.

The estimated radiation exposure for local fishermen in coastal areas and for people who regularly consume seafood from the region was well below 1 millisievert, an annual dose considered safe, TEPCO said.

Japan has requested the assistance of the UN nuclear agency to ensure that the release meets international safety standards and to gain the understanding of the international community.

A six-member team from the International Atomic Energy Agency, currently in Japan, visited the plant on Tuesday to inspect preparations for the planned release.

A massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011 severely damaged three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, causing large amounts of contaminated cooling water to leak. The water has been stored in around 1,000 tanks which the operator says will reach capacity by the end of next year.


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