January 22, 2015
Japan’s nuclear watchdog gave the green light to the operator of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant to discharge pumped up groundwater into the sea if radioactive substances in the water are within safety standards.
The Jan. 21 decision by the Nuclear Regulation Authority concerns groundwater from 41 wells, called subdrains, close to the No. 1 to No. 4 reactor buildings at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
Operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. will be obliged to remove radioactive substances in the groundwater at its decontamination facilities.
The water must meet certain criteria before it is released into the sea.
The conditions per liter of water are: that radioactive cesium is less than 1 becquerel; radioactive substances that emit beta rays are less than 3 becquerels; and the level of tritium is less than 1,500 becquerels.
Although TEPCO does not have the means to remove tritium at its decontamination facilities, the levels of contamination must be within safety limits.
The NRA said the volume of groundwater that flows into the reactor buildings will be reduced by one-half.
However, it remains unclear if the plan will be implemented as TEPCO is keen to get the approval of local residents, many of whom depend on fishing for their livelihoods.
The utility has been holding meetings with local fishery cooperatives since the summer to explain what it involved. Some members of the cooperatives seemed receptive to the plan, but others were not.
Source: Asahi Shimbun