Japan to release radioactive Fukushima water into the sea

More than a million tonnes of contaminated water was collected from the plant since 2011

More than a million tonnes of contaminated water was collected from the plant since 2011

According to the Japananese media reports, the government has made a decision to release radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea. The verdict ends years of debate over how to dispose of roughly 1 million cubic meters of the water, enough to fill 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools, that leaked into the power stations that suffered core meltdowns after an quake and tsunami in 2011.

Last year, a Japanese government agency proposed releasing radioactive water from the stricken nuclear plant into the environment, as storage space runs out.

Water used to cool molten nuclear fuel from the 2011 accident at the plant is treated to remove most radioactive substances, but tritium and others remain.

Dumping the water into the ocean threatens to hurt Japan's relationship with South Korea, and comes despite opposition from environmental groups and the local fishing industry, which is still struggling to recover from the disaster.

Sources say the economy ministry on Thursday briefed local governments including those of the towns Futaba and Okuma, which host the plant. Discharges are a common practice in the atomic-power industry and would likely meet global guidelines.

Japanese Industry Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama said no decision has been made yet, but the government aims to make one quickly. "We absolutely oppose to the release of the water".

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"We can't postpone a decision on the plan to deal with the. processed water, to prevent delays in the decommission work of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant", Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Friday, without commenting directly on the plan or its timing.

"Our government has continued to stress that the Japanese side should share information transparently and maintain communication with the global community regarding the disposal of the Fukushima nuclear plant water", the ministry said in a statement.

There are around 1.23 million tonnes of waste water stored in tanks at the facility, according to plant operator TEPCO, which also declined to comment on the reports.

The Asahi newspaper reported that any such release is expected to take at around two years to prepare, as the site's irradiated water first needs to pass through a filtration process before it can be further diluted with seawater and finally released into the ocean.

Most of the radioactive isotopes have been removed by an extensive filtration process - but one remains, called tritium, which can not be removed with existing technology. While tritium's beta particles, those emitted during radioactive decay, are too low-energy to penetrate the skin, they can build up in the body if inhaled or consumed.

An official decision could emerge by the end of this month, said Kyodo news agency.

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