17 Jul (NucNet): Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) said in a statement on 14 July 2017 that it had not made a final decision on whether or not to release water containing tritium into the sea at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power station.
Tepco, which owns and operates the facility, was reacting to media reports that its chairman, Takashi Kawamura, had said the decision had already been made. But Tepco said in its statement posted on its website, that while it agreed with Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) that there should be no impact from releasing tritiated water into the ocean, Tepco had not finalised its policy on the matter.
“We need to give our full attention to the satisfaction of both peace of mind of local residents and the reconstruction of Fukushima prefecture, as well as meeting regulation and safety standards for a final decision,” the statement said. “We will carefully examine our policy on the matter with the government and local stakeholders from such a perspective.”
Tepco said tritium typically poses little risk to human health unless ingested in high amounts, and ocean discharges of diluted volumes of tritium-tainted water are a routine part of nuclear power plant operations. This is because it is a byproduct of nuclear operations but cannot be filtered out of water.
As of 6 July 2017, about 770,000 tonnes of water containing tritium were stored in about 580 tanks at the Fukushima-Daiichi station, which is running out of storage space.
Contaminated cooling water at the station is being treated by a complex water-processing system that can remove 62 different types of radioactive materials except tritium, which is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen.
According to the Japan Times, NRA chairman Shunichi Tanaka has been urging Tepco to release the water. But fishermen who make their livelihoods near the station are opposed to the releases, the newspaper said.