May 18, 2022
The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has approved a plan formulated by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) to discharge into the sea water containing tritium and other radioactive materials that have accumulated at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in accordance with government policy.
At the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, in addition to groundwater and rainwater flowing into the reactor buildings, contaminated water containing radioactive materials is generated as a result of cooling melted-down nuclear fuel, and after purification, the so-called “treated water” still contains tritium and other radioactive materials that are difficult to remove.
The government has decided that the ever-increasing amount of treated water cannot continue to be stored on the plant’s premises, so it will be diluted to a concentration below the standard and discharged into the sea around next spring.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has been reviewing the plan.
At its meeting on March 18, the Nuclear Regulation Authority took up a draft review document summarizing the discussions to date, including a method to check the concentration of tritium and other substances in the treated water before discharging it, and an assessment of the effects of exposure to the surrounding environment and people, as described in the plan.
As a result, the Regulatory Commission approved TEPCO’s plan, finding no problems with the content of the review.
After soliciting opinions from the public for about a month from the 19th, the plan is expected to be officially approved.
TEPCO has been working since last December on the entrance and exit of the undersea tunnel for the offshore discharge, and after obtaining the approval of Fukushima Prefecture and local authorities, will start full-scale construction of facilities to dilute the treated water with seawater and the tunnel itself, aiming to complete the work around mid-April next year. The construction is scheduled to be completed by mid-April of next year.
However, concerns about harmful rumors persist, especially among local residents and fishermen, and the issue is how the government and TEPCO will gain the understanding of all concerned parties.
Fishermen’s Cooperative “Firmly Opposed”]
Haruhiko Terasawa, head of the Miyagi Prefectural Fisheries Cooperative Association, commented on the Nuclear Regulation Commission’s approval of TEPCO’s plan to discharge treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the ocean, “Ascidians caught in Miyagi Prefecture still cannot be exported to some countries. We are firmly opposed to the discharge of treated water into the ocean, and we hope that the government will first create an environment in which we can fish with peace of mind.
He added, “After the earthquake and the nuclear power plant accident, it was hard for us to sell seafood from Miyagi Prefecture. I don’t want to feel that way again. From overseas, the seas of Miyagi Prefecture and Fukushima Prefecture are seen as the same region, so I want Miyagi Prefecture to provide the same level of support as Fukushima Prefecture, where the nuclear power plant is located,” he said, calling on the national government and TEPCO to provide explanations that are satisfactory to local fishermen and take concrete measures to prevent harmful rumors.
Governor Murai: “Take measures against reputational rumors.”
In response to the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s approval of a plan to discharge into the sea water containing tritium and other radioactive materials that have accumulated at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Governor Murai stated, “The prefecture will continue to request that disposal methods other than discharging into the sea be considered, and will also seek more concrete measures to ensure that our past efforts and achievements toward reconstruction will not be undone. In addition, the prefectural government will ask the central government and TEPCO to take more concrete and effective measures against rumors to ensure that the efforts and achievements made so far toward reconstruction will not be undone.