[UPDATED] The Japanese government on Tuesday approved a plan for the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), owner of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power disaster site to begin discharging treated water collected from the site into the ocean.
The plan, which would require Nuclear Regulatory Authority approval and would not begin until the summer of 2022, was quickly met with disapproval from local fishermen and the governments of China and South Korea. The local fishing industry was devastated by the March 2011 nuclear plant disaster, which was brought on by a tsunami triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake, an offshore 9.0 magnitude tremor that killed 20,000 people and brought on the destructive tidal wave.
Since then, Tepco has met with the huge task of cleanup and decommissioning the three-unit meltdown site and containing the huge amount of groundwater flowing through the property. The water hits the plant from the uphill side and becomes contaminated on its path to the sea. The New York Times also reports that Tepco has been collecting water from the 200 tons of water per day Tepco has been pumping to keep the disaster site cooled down.
The company is now running out of room to store the containers that now hold over 1 million tons of treated water. The exact contaminates are not wholly clear, but the filtered water, according to Tepco, is contaminated with tritium, but at levels that are acceptable under international guidelines. According to the World Nuclear Association, the company claims the tritium remaining after the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) process is 1/40th the concentration permitted by Japanese standards and 1/7th the level the World Health Organization permits in drinking water.
However, other radioactive isotopes have been found in nearby fishing waters. Most recently, the shipment of rockfish from Japan was suspended due to high levels of cesium.
Japanese fishing in the region is already at 17.5 percent of pre-disaster levels, according to some reports.
With the plan of water discharging, the Japanese government has chosen not to buy additional land for water storage. There is currently room for storing about 1.4 million tons of water. The government, however, said purchasing more land for storage would interfere with the effort of residents to rehabilitate the region.
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