Local fishermen are concerned about news that the Japanese government may dump more than a million tons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. Scientists have advised the government that their studies have shown all radioactive elements present in the water were successfully removed through treatment.
In 2011, a massive earthquake that registered 9 on the Richter scale knocked out power in the Fukushima nuclear power plant which caused six of its reactors to have a partial meltdown. Highly contaminated water eventually spilled into the Pacific Ocean.
The experts shared their concern that in the event any of the tanks which contain radioactive water breaks, the leak from its contents would be difficult to control. The only element which appears to remain in the radioactive water is tritium. The scientists maintain tritium is safe in small amounts.
Frequent testing of catch in waters near Fukushima show fishes are free of radiation contamination. However local fishermen say consumers continue to avoid eating their fish.
Surveys report that 1 in 5 residents shun fish and other products sourced from Fukushima. The fishermen believe their industry will continue to suffer if radioactive water is released into the Pacific Ocean.
Contaminated water continues to build up because the radioactive waste mixes with groundwater that has leaked through cracks in the reactor buildings. The volume of radioactive water has been measured to be increasing at a rate of 150 tons every day.
Radioactive water is collected and stored in tanks at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant located in Okuma, Fukushima.
After treatment, 210 tons are reused as cooling water. The rest are kept inside the storage tanks.
The process has become expensive and troublesome for TEPCO to manage. The company has to dig dozens of wells to pump out groundwater in an effort to reduce its flow before it reaches the reactor buildings.
Some members of the scientific community have likewise expressed scepticism over the underground “ice wall” which was built by partially freezing the ground near the reactors.
Another option for the government to consider would be to transfer the tanks to another storage area and wait until 2023 to release the water. Scientists are convinced that by 2023, half of the water’s tritium content would have disappeared.