Fisheries cooperatives on Dec. 8 demanded Tokyo Electric Power Co. rescind its plan to release radioactive water from its crippled nuclear plant into the sea, saying the move would further damage their industry.
Ikuhiro Hattori, chairman of the national federation of fisheries cooperatives, and other officials issued their demand at a meeting with TEPCO President Toshio Nishizawa at the company's headquarters in Tokyo.
"We do not approve of the discharge into the sea," Hattori said in the meeting.
He handed Nishizawa a statement that said such a measure "is certain to trigger fresh rumors that are harmful (to those already affected by the disaster) and will certainly invite additional international criticism."
Nishizawa replied: "We will take the protest sincerely. We are going to take the necessary steps."
TEPCO plans to discharge water that has accumulated in the turbine buildings of the No. 1 through No. 4 reactors and other facilities at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The company said it is running out of options because the nuclear complex has limited space for additional tanks that can store the water. The existing storage tanks at the plant now hold about 100,000 tons but are expected to be full in March.
The water is being used to cool the damaged reactors in a recycling system that purifies the radioactive water and pumps it back into the reactors.
But an estimated 400 tons of groundwater a day continues to flow into the plant. The company has considered recycling such water and stemming the inflow, as well as buying additional water-treatment equipment, but it has not come up with a solid plan.
TEPCO is expected to include the discharge in its midterm plan to be submitted to the industry ministry's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency in the near future.
The company said it has not decided on the timing and amount of water to be discharged, nor has it set a limit on the radiation levels of the treated water to be released.
But the company said the radiation levels will be lower than national safety limits and as low as in water discharged into the sea during regular operations.
TEPCO is considering treating the water with equipment that absorbs cesium and other radioactive materials and desalinates it. The contaminated water includes seawater that swamped the Fukushima plant when it was hit by a gigantic tsunami following the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake.
The fisheries federation's protest on Dec. 8 came after TEPCO earlier this month notified entities that will likely be affected by the water discharge.
The federation also lodged a strong protest in April after TEPCO released about 10,000 tons of low-level contaminated water into the sea to secure storage space for highly contaminated water. The measure also drew criticism from governments overseas.
The radiation levels of the discharged water in April were around 100 times the national safety standards.
(This article was written by Naoya Kon and Tomoyoshi Otsu.)
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