The head of Japan’s nuclear watchdog body has acknowledged for the first time that Tokyo Electric Power Co. has no choice but to release radioactive water accumulating at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant into the sea.
“The Fukushima No. 1 plant is filling up with water,” Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, told a news conference on July 24. “Inevitably the contaminated water will have to be discharged into the sea after TEPCO processes it properly and lowers (its radioactivity levels) below the standards.”
Taking into account that local fishery associations and other organizations oppose TEPCO’s plans to release processed water into the sea, Tanaka said it is important to provide a detailed explanation to gain their approval. He indicated that the NRA will conduct a long-term investigation to assess the environmental impact of radioactive water discharged into the sea.
At the Fukushima plant, an estimated 400 tons of groundwater is flowing into its reactor buildings daily. The groundwater is mixed with water used to cool the melted fuel, and is accumulating with high radioactive levels at the plant.
Purification systems can remove some radioactive substances, including cesium, from water, but cannot isolate tritium.
A research team, jointly set up by the government and TEPCO, is seeking a way to remove tritium from contaminated water.
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