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Japan will release a million tons of water used in the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea, the BBC has reported, citing Japanese media. The reports add that the water will be diluted to reduce its radioactivity levels.
Even so, environmental groups and fishing industry organizations are against the release of the liquid into the sea, despite assurances from scientists that the risk of contamination is low. The water will first be diluted to reduce the concentration of radioactive material 40 times, according to some of the reports. The release is scheduled to begin in 2022 when the tanks currently storing the water will be full up, although the government has yet to make the official decision.
Reports about the possible dumping of water from the reactors first emerged last year. At the time, Japan's environmental minister Yoshiaki Harada said Tepco—the operator of Fukushima—was running out of space to store the radioactive water, which was previously used in the reactors of the nuclear plant to cool them and prevent a disaster.
"The only option will be to drain it into the sea and dilute it," minister Harada said in September 2019.
Most of the radioactive isotopes have been removed from the water, the BBC notes in its report, but one, tritium, remains. However, scientists say that it is not particularly threatening to humans or animals, especially when diluted in billions of tons of water in the Pacific Ocean.
The disposal of the water is a prerequisite for the start of decommissioning of the Fukushima plant.
"To prevent any delays in the decommissioning process, we need to make a decision quickly," industry minister Hiroshi Kajiyama said.
The Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown was the result of a giant tsunami caused by a magnitude 9 earthquake that cost the lives of some 15,000 people. The power plant's decommissioning has been estimated at $75 billion.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com