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Japan will begin the release of heavily diluted water from the reactors of the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean on Thursday.
The plan for the water’s disposal is a highly controversial issue due to concern about the radioactive properties of the wastewater, despite assurances from experts the liquid has been diluted enough to render the wastewater harmless.
There are some 1 million tons of contaminated reactor water that was kept in storage by power utility Tepco for years until the government concluded the only option was to release the water in a controlled manner into the ocean.
The decision drew criticism from Japan’s neighbors, although South Korea walked back the criticism after it did an assessment of the release plan and concluded it was safe.
Despite the absence of viable options, environmental groups and fishing industry organizations are against the release of the liquid into the sea, even with assurances from scientists that the risk of contamination is low. The water will be diluted to reduce the concentration of radioactive material 40 times.
According to the Japanese government, the release of the water, which will take years, is an essential part of the decommissioning of the Fukushima nuclear power plant and the restoration of the city.
Back in 2018, official calculations by the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp pegged the cost of decommissioning the Fukushima nuclear power plant at some $75 billion, which was a sum four times larger than the initial estimate of how much it would cost to put Fukushima out of commission.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has also declared the release plan safe, saying that the dilution rate of the wastewater was in line with international standards and that the impact of its release into the ocean would be negligible for both people and the environment.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com