Fukushima Daiichi’s “treated” liquid waste too radioactive to be dumped into the Pacific ocean

They have lied for all those years years to the people from who they needed the permission before any dumping ( fishermen associations, local government, etc.) that all radionuclides had been filtered out, that it was only tritiated water. We have to wonder what is forcing them suddenly to admit this.

The Associated Press reported from a TEPCO press conference held late last week that treated water TEPCO has been trying to dump in the Pacific ocean is not safe to dump.
“much of the radioactive water stored at the plant isn’t clean enough and needs further treatment if it is to be released into the ocean.”
“TEPCO said Friday that studies found the water still contains other elements, including radioactive iodine, cesium and strontium. It said more than 80 percent of the 900,000 tons of water stored in large, densely packed tanks contains radioactivity exceeding limits for release into the environment.”
There is no transparent system of accountability for this stored water. Reporting of the levels of contamination and what isotopes are in what types of stored water are almost non existent.

Fukushima cooling water too radioactive to release

Tokyo Electric Power Company has admitted that much of the water stored at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant had not been treated completely enough for release into the environment.
How to dispose of an ever-increasing amount of radioactive water at the plant is a big issue. The contaminated water is generated daily in the process of cooling the damaged reactors.
Before being stored in tanks at the plant, the water undergoes treatment that is supposed to get rid of all radioactive substances but tritium. Tritium is difficult to remove.
One of the disposal ideas is to release the water still containing tritium into the sea.
But many at a public hearing in August opposed to the plan. Some people pointed that the water in question also contains other radioactive elements.
At a meeting of experts in Tokyo on Monday, the utility officials reported that as of August, there was 890,000 tons of such water at the plant.
They said they suspect that more than 80 percent of the water contained not only tritium but also other radioactive substances, such as iodine and strontium, and that their levels exceeded the limits for release into the environment.
A senior Tokyo Electric official apologized, saying his company was too focused on the issue of tritium and failed to provide a full explanation.
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Liquid radioactive waste should not be called “treated” radioactive water

Treated water at Fukushima nuclear plant still radioactive

Sepember 28, 2018
TOKYO (AP) – The operator of Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant said Friday that much of the radioactive water stored at the plant isn’t clean enough and needs further treatment if it is to be released into the ocean.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the government had said that treatment of the water had removed all radioactive elements except tritium, which experts say is safe in small amounts.
They called it “tritium water,” but it actually wasn’t.
TEPCO said Friday that studies found the water still contains other elements, including radioactive iodine, cesium and strontium. It said more than 80 percent of the 900,000 tons of water stored in large, densely packed tanks contains radioactivity exceeding limits for release into the environment.
TEPCO general manager Junichi Matsumoto said radioactive elements remained, especially earlier in the crisis when plant workers had to deal with large amounts of contaminated water leaking from the wrecked reactors and could not afford time to stop the treatment machines to change filters frequently.
“We had to prioritize processing large amounts of water as quickly as possible to reduce the overall risk,” Matsumoto said.
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In this Feb. 23, 2017, file photo, an employee walks past storage tanks for contaminated water at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan. The operator of Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant said Friday, Sept. 28, 2018, that much of the radioactive water stored at the plant isn’t clean enough and needs further treatment if it is to be released into the ocean.
 
About 161,000 tons of the treated water has 10 to 100 times the limit for release into the environment, and another 65,200 tons has up to nearly 20,000 times the limit, TEPCO said.
Matsumoto said the plant will treat the water further to ensure contamination levels are reduced to allowable limits.
He was responding to growing public criticism and distrust about the status of the water.
More than 7 ½ years since a massive March 2011 earthquake and tsunami destroyed three reactors at the plant, Japan has yet to reach a consensus on what to do with the radioactive water. Fishermen and residents oppose its release into the ocean. Nuclear experts have recommended the controlled release of the water into the Pacific as the only realistic option.
The release option faced harsh criticism at town meetings in Fukushima and Tokyo in late August, when TEPCO and government officials provided little explanation of the water contamination, which had been reported in local media days earlier.
TEPCO only says it has the capacity to store up to 1.37 million tons of water through 2020 and that it cannot stay at the plant forever.
Some experts say the water can be stored for decades, but others say the tanks take up too much space at the plant and could interfere with ongoing decommissioning work, which could take decades.
 
 

Treated water at Fukushima nuclear plant still radioactive: Tepco

They called it “tritium water,” but it actually wasn’t.
About 161,000 tons of the water has 10 to 100 times the limit, and another 65,200 tons has up to nearly 20,000 times the limit.
 
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A Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. official wearing radioactive protective gear stands in front of Advanced Liquid Processing Systems during a press tour at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Nov. 12, 2014.
 
Sep 29, 2018
The operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has said that much of the radioactive water stored at the plant isn’t clean enough and needs further treatment if it is to be released into the ocean.
Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. and the government had said that treatment of the water had removed all radioactive elements except tritium, which experts say is safe in small amounts.
They called it “tritium water,” but it actually wasn’t.
Tepco said Friday that studies found the water still contains other elements, including radioactive iodine, cesium and strontium. It said more than 80 percent of the 900,000 tons of water stored in large, densely packed tanks contains radioactivity exceeding limits for release into the environment.
Tepco general manager Junichi Matsumoto said radioactive elements remained, especially earlier in the crisis when plant workers had to deal with large amounts of contaminated water leaking from the wrecked reactors and could not afford time to stop the treatment machines to change filters frequently.
“We had to prioritize processing large amounts of water as quickly as possible to reduce the overall risk,” Matsumoto said.
About 161,000 tons of the treated water has 10 to 100 times the limit for release into the environment, and another 65,200 tons has up to nearly 20,000 times the limit, Tepco said.
Matsumoto said the plant will treat the water further to ensure contamination levels are reduced to allowable limits.
He was responding to growing public criticism and distrust about the status of the water.
More than 7½ years since a massive March 2011 earthquake and tsunami destroyed three reactors at the plant, Japan has yet to reach a consensus on what to do with the radioactive water. Fishermen and residents oppose its release into the ocean. Nuclear experts have recommended the controlled release of the water into the Pacific as the only realistic option.
The release option faced harsh criticism at meetings in Fukushima and Tokyo in late August, when Tepco and government officials provided little explanation of the water contamination, which had been reported in local media days earlier.
Tepco only says it has the capacity to store up to 1.37 million tons of water through 2020 and that it cannot stay at the plant forever.
Some experts say the water can be stored for decades, but others say the tanks take up too much space at the plant and could interfere with ongoing decommissioning work that could take decades.

TEPCO Admitted Almost 200 Billion Bq of Priorly Undeclared Radionuclides Water Contamination

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Kyodo News wrote about a new admission at Fukushima Daiichi. The ALPS water decontamination systems are not removing almost all of the contamination as previously claimed. TEPCO admitted new levels of specific radioactive isotopes in the treated and stored water.

Iodine 129 has a half life of 15.7 million years
Ruthenium 106 has a half life of 373.59 days
Technetium 99 has a half life of 211,000 years

All are considered to pose enough of a public health risk that they need to be controlled. Iodine 129 levels found in the water samples exceeds the legally admissible levels. The other two isotopes fall below the legal level.  The considerable total amounts of these radioactive substances make them a concern.

Total post ALPS water: 920,000 tons of water
1,000 liters per ton
920,000,000 liters total

Newly admitted levels of contamination along with our calculated totals:
62.2 bq/liter iodine 129 = 57,224,000,000 bq
92.5 bq/liter ruthenium 106 = 85,100,000,000 bq
59 bq/liter technetium 99 = 54,280,000,000 bq

Total of newly declared becquerels of contamination:
196,604,000,000 bq

TEPCO has been trying to gain the needed permissions to dump this water into the Pacific ocean, claiming it only contained tritium and trace amounts of other isotopes. The actual radioactive isotope contents of the treated water has not been clearly declared to the public. Statements like “removes almost all” or only mentioning the removal rate of a specific isotope has been the standard pattern of disclosure. This has left questions about what exactly is in this water they are so eager to dump. TEPCO’s reluctance to be more transparent about the contamination in this water raises concerns they are hiding information.

Regional fishing groups have fought the dumping plan claiming it would hurt seafood sales.  This issue of undeclared contamination or the environmental ethics of dumping it into an international body of water are rarely discussed. TEPCO mentioned they have not tested all of the tanks of treated water. The estimated totals we compiled could go up or down based on what is found in those untested tanks. TEPCO did not disclose the process of selecting tanks or how many of the total have been sampled.

The plan to dump the water into the ocean has been based on the claim that this water only contained tritium. With a half life of 12,3 years, this alone seemed a problem the public might tolerate. The addition of these long lived isotopes makes any potential plan to store the water while the tritium decays problematic. The removal of these other isotopes will need to be proven before any long term plan can realistically be determined.

Radioactive tritium and other types of radionuclides in Fukushima nuclear plant water, despite water treatment

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Water at Fukushima nuclear plant still radioactive even after treatment, Government wants to dump the contaminated water into the sea, but locals and fishermen oppose the idea.

19 August, 2018
Radioactive substances have not been removed from treated but still tritium-containing water at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The government and Tokyo Electric Power Company have faced the pressing need to dispose of such treated water now kept in tanks. One option is to dump it into the sea, as tritium is said to pose little risk to human health.
If the plan goes ahead, tritium-tainted water from the nuclear plant is expected to be diluted so it is likely to lower the levels of other radioactive materials as well before being discharged.
But locals and fishermen are worried about the water discharge and a government panel debating how to deal with it has mainly focused on tritium, not other radioactive substances.
According to Tepco, a maximum 62.2 becquerels per litre of lodine 129, far higher than the 9 becquerel legal limit, was found in the water filtered by the Advanced Liquid Processing System used to remove various types of radioactive materials
Iodine 129 has a half-life of 15.7 million years.
Tepco, which gathered data in fiscal 2017 through March, also detected a maximum 92.5 becquerels of Ruthenium 106 – more than the 100 becquerel legal limit – and 59 becquerels of technetium 99 against the limit of 1,000 becquerels.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex was damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Reactors 1 and 3 suffered fuel meltdowns as their cooling systems were crippled.
Water was injected to keep the fuel cold but it is extremely toxic. The water is filtered but it is hard for tritium to be separated.
In August, there were around 920,000 tonnes of tritium-containing water stored in some 680 tanks at the plant. But Tepco said it has not checked the concentration of radioactive materials in each tank.
The government has examined several ways to dispose of tritium-containing water, including the release of it into the sea or atmosphere.
Toyoshi Fuketa, who heads the Nuclear Regulation Authority, said pumping the water into the sea is the only solution.
 
 

ALPS system at Fukushima No. 1 plant failing to remove more than tritium from toxic cooling water

Aug 19, 2018
The tritium-tainted water piling up at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has been found to contain other radioactive substances, defying the defunct plant’s special treatment system, Kyodo News has learned.
The government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. are under pressure to dispose the treated water, which is accumulating in hundreds of tanks on the premises. One option is to dump it into the sea, as tritium, a normal byproduct of nuclear operations, is said to pose little risk to human health in diluted form.
If the plan goes through, the tritium-tainted water is expected to be diluted so it will likely lower the levels of the other radioactive materials before discharge.
But fishermen and residents are worried about the water discharge plan, and a government panel debating how to deal with it has mainly focused on the tritium rather than the other substances.
According to Tepco, a maximum of 62.2 becquerels per liter of iodine 129, far higher than the 9 becquerel legal limit, was found in the water filtered by the Advanced Liquid Processing System, which was reportedly capable of removing everything but tritium.
Iodine 129 has a half-life of 15.7 million years.
Tepco, which gathered data in fiscal 2017 through March, also detected a maximum 92.5 becquerels of ruthenium 106, shy of the 100 becquerel legal limit, as well as 59 becquerels of technetium 99 against the limit of 1,000 becquerels.
The Fukushima No. 1 complex was damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Reactors 1 to 3 suffered fuel meltdowns as their cooling systems were crippled.
Water is injected perpetually to keep the fuel cold but it is extremely toxic. The water is filtered by the ALPS system but removing the tritium remains difficult.
As of August, around 920,000 tons of tritium-containing water are stored in some 680 tanks within the premises. But Tepco said it has not checked the concentration of radioactive materials in each tank.
Toyoshi Fuketa, who heads the Nuclear Regulation Authority, has been calling the ocean discharge plan the “only” solution.
 
 
 
 
 

A Resolution Against the Ocean Dumping of Radioactive Tritium-contaminated Waste Water From the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant

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More than 200 Japanese scientists and citizens decleared “A Resolution Against the Ocean Dumping of Radioactive Tritium-contaminated Waste Water From the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.”

Copied below is the document or see the following website:
http://blog.torikaesu.net/?eid=76

Please read it and you could take the situations more seriously how dangerous it can be if TEPCO dumps as
planned the tritium-contaminated water from the defunct Fukushima nuclear plant to the Pacific Ocean.

If you could post this document onto your web-pages or blogs and share it with your friends and acquaintances, it would be very helpful to spread the real picture of Fukushima nuclear disaster, that the Japanese government wants to conceal by any nasty means.

Physics Professor Emeritus at Kyoto University, Kosaku Yamada, who led the process to declaring this resolution, hopes that everyone who agrees with this resolution could e-mail him and register as an assenter of it.
With greeting of solidarity,
Etsuji Watanabe

Members of the Association for Citizens and Scientists Concerned about Internal Radiation Exposures (ACSIR) and citizens and scientists who are concerned about internal radiation exposure

July 20, 2018

You can download this resolution from here.
A Resolution Against the Ocean Dumping of Radioactive Tritium-contaminated Waste Water From the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant(pdf,3pages,146KB)

It was announced in March, 2014, that in the defunct Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant there was a total of approximately 3,400 trillion becquerels of tritium, with 830 trillion becquerels stored in tanks. This enormous amount of radioactive waste water has still continued to increase since then. In these circumstances, the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Ltd. (TEPCO), in their efforts to find an easy way to dispose of the tritium-contaminated waste water created by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, have been trying to dilute and dump it into the ocean. They have been watching for an unguarded moment among the opposition movements, such as fishery cooperatives. Now they are about to finally decide to implement the ocean dumping plan. Far from regulating such activities, Toyoshi Fuketa, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Authority has been championing this plan.
We are determined that the Japanese government and TEPCO shall never dump the radioactive waste water into the ocean for the following reasons:

1. Generally misunderstood as posing little risk to life and health, tritium is an extremely hazardous radioactive material. This is because organisms are not able to chemically distinguish tritium water from the normal water which composes most of the human body. This means that tritium can invade any part of the human body, irradiating it from inside; therefore, tritium can damage cell membranes and mitochondria in cells, indirectly through reactive oxygen species (ROS) and other radicals generated in irradiation. Tritium decay can directly cut chemical bonds of genomes or DNA strands. The risk peculiar to tritium is that if some hydrogen atoms which make up the genomes are replaced with tritium, the beta decay of the tritium into helium will cut off the chemical bonds of the genome.
Plants produce starch from water and carbon dioxide gas by using photosynthesis. Some of hydrogen atoms in this starch can be replaced with tritium, forming organic tritium, which animals, plants and human beings absorb into their bodies over the long term, causing internal radiation.

2. With reference to the tritium released by various nuclear facilities, reports indicate a number of findings including: an increased incidence of leukemia among those living around the Genkai Nuclear Power Plant; an increased incidence of infant leukemia around nuclear reprocessing plants all over the world; and an increased incidence of child cancers around nuclear power plants. Real damage has already occurred.

3. Tritium, even if diluted and dumped into the ocean, will become concentrated again through aspects of the ecosystem such as food chains. Furthermore, tritium will vaporize into tritium-containing moisture or hydrogen gas only to return to the land and eventually circulate within the environment. The idea that dilution ensures safety has caused fatal blunders to be repeated in many environmental pollution cases in the past, the vital factor being the total quantity released into the environment. Therefore, as far as environmental pollution problems are concerned, the only righteous and principled policy is to thoroughly confine and isolate radioactive materials or toxic substances from the ecosystem.
As tritium has a long half-life of 12 years, it destroys the environment over the long term. Tritium is an isotope of hydrogen which constitutes not only most of the living body but also its genes, so tritium disposal via dilution cannot be safe. Thus, we strongly urge the Japanese government and the Nuclear Regulatory Authority never to dump tritium into the ocean.

The resolution assenters:
As of
 August 5

Individuals:

淡川典子、青木幸雄、青柳行信、伊集院真知子、上里恵子、吾郷健二、吾郷成子、阿部 毅、
阿部健太郎、阿部めぐみ、有田武生、アントニオ弓削、池村奈津子、石岡敬三、石川隆之、石下直子、
石田紀郎、石堂太郎、伊集院真知子、稲垣 博美、稲垣 睿、印南敏夫、今田裕作、岩田深雪、
上野益徳、上野祥子、魚住公成、魚住優子、内海洋一、宇野朗子、衛藤英二、遠藤順子、
及川洋子、大倉弘之、岡田俊子、小木曽茂子、小野英喜、大沼淳一、大見哲巨、大和田幸嗣、
大湾宗則、奥森祥陽、尾崎一彦、尾崎憲正、尾崎宗璋、落合栄一郎、落合祥堯、小野寺晶、
折原利男、勝部明、川崎陽子、川添 務、河原よしみ、木次昭宏、木原和子、木村千亜紀、
許 照美、熊谷まき、黒河内繁美、黒田節子、鍬野保雄、權 龍夫、国分 天、小林立雄、
小柴信子、児玉順一、小橋かおる、後藤五月、小針修子、小東ゆかり、小林久公、小宮市郎、
小山 潔、コリン・コバヤシ、今 正則、斉藤さちこ、齊藤智子、佐藤和利、佐藤京子、佐藤大介、
澤田昭二、嶋田美子、島 安治、下澤陽子、下山久美子、庄司善哉、白井健雄 、白鳥紀一、
菅原佐喜雄、杉野恵一、鈴木則雄、鈴木紀雄、砂川正弘、髙木和美、高階喜代恵、高瀬光代、
滝本 健、田代真人、橘 優子、舘澤みゆき、田中一郎、田中 清、高木 伸、高橋精巧、
高橋武三、髙松利昌、辻 陽子、辻本 誠、哲野イサク、寺尾光身、友田シズエ、外谷悦夫、
冨田孝正、中川洋子、中沢浩二、長尾高弘、長澤民衣、中須賀 徳行、永田文夫、名出真一、
中西綾子、中村由紀男、奈良本英佑、難波希美子、西尾正道、西川生子、西川隆善、西里扶甬子、
根本 勘、野村修身、萩原正子、萩原ゆきみ、橋爪亮子、橋本恵美、馬場利子、林 敬次、
原田二三子、平佐公敏、福島敦子、藤井隼人、藤井弘子、藤原寿和、 舩冨和枝、星川まり、
堀江みゆき、松井英介、松井和子、松岡由香子、松尾美絵、松沢哲成、松久 寛、三上幸子、
水鳥方義、水戸喜世子、宮口高枝、宮嵜やゆみ、宮下京子、宮永崇史、向平恵子、向平 真、
三ツ林安治、三室 勇、森下育代、森田眞理、矢ケ崎克馬、八木和美、梁取洋夫、矢野勝敏、
山口サエ子、山崎清、山崎知行、山崎正彦、山田五十鈴、山田清彦、山田耕作、山田勝暉、
山田敏正、山田 誠、山本清子、山本英彦、横山恵子、横山義弘、横山由美子、吉田明生、
吉田恵子、吉田素直、米澤鐡志、わしおとよ、渡辺悦司、渡辺典子、渡辺眞知子、

Organizations:
太田川ダム研究会、クライストチャーチの風 、さよなら原発神戸アクション、
静岡放射能汚染測定室、全国金属機械労働組合港合同アート・アド分会、脱原発はりまアクション、
脱被ばく実現ネット、京都脱原発原告団、核燃を考える住民の会、
核燃から郷土を守る上十三地方住民連絡会議、

 
If you agree with this resolution, please e-mail to Kosaku Yamada.
Address: kosakuyamada@yahoo.co.jp.

14

About that tritiated water: Who will decide and when?

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Storage tanks of contaminated water stand at Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Tepco estimates that at the current rate it will run out of tank space in 2020, and a decision must be made on what to do with the water well before then.
 
June 5, 2018
Virtually every news story about the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant acknowledges the tremendous ongoing problem of contaminated water that is accumulating in approximately 850 large tanks on-site. There are about 850,000 tons of water in the tanks at present, from which all radionuclides of concern except tritium — radioactive hydrogen — have been effectively removed. More water accumulates each day, in quantities roughly equal to the amount of groundwater that seeps into the damaged reactor buildings. Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings estimates that at the current rate it will run out of tank space in 2020. Something needs to be done well before then, and the decision should address the concerns of all stakeholders, public and private.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry recently announced that meetings will be held where the public can hear explanations of proposed solutions and comment on them. Unless they think seriously about how to prevent this from becoming yet another clumsy exercise in DAD — “decide, announce, defend” — these meetings will be a mere fig leaf that will allow the government to claim it has adequately consulted the public.
As it is, the government’s decision-making process itself appears to be dysfunctional, and we have reason to be skeptical that it will be possible to avert very bad domestic and international public reactions if and when this water is disposed of.
The Subcommittee on Handling Water Treated by the Polynuclide Removal Facility is one of several Japanese government committees organized by METI tasked with formulating a response to the problem of the radioactive water. The planned public sessions were announced at its eighth meeting, on May 18.
This is a step in the right direction, and is long overdue. Nevertheless it may well be a case of “too little, too late.” The decision, delayed for years, will almost certainly be to dilute the water and release it to the ocean, and meanwhile, public opposition to this idea has hardened. The issue hinges on both scientific understanding and public perception.
What is tritium?
Tritium, scientifically indicated as “H3,” occurs both naturally and through man-made processes. Tritiated water (HTO), like that accumulating at the No. 1 nuclear power plant, behaves almost identically to normal water, and can be taken up easily by living organisms. The scientific consensus is that the health risks from exposure to tritium are several orders of magnitude lower than those from radionuclides like cesium, radioactive iodine or strontium. This is reflected in allowable limits in drinking water, which are generally tens or hundreds of times higher for tritium than for these others, ranging from 100 Bq/L in the European Union to 76,103 Bq/L in Australia. Nevertheless, the scientific community acknowledges some uncertainty about these risks.
Leaving the tritiated water in the tanks at No. 1 is the riskiest thing to do, due to the possibility of ruptures or uncontrolled leaks. As far back as 2014, the International Atomic Energy Agency recommended a controlled release to the ocean as the safest course of action, and Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Agency concurred.
A Tritiated Water Task Force convened by METI in 2013 examined five options in detail, and in 2016 concluded that for reasons of cost, available technology, time required, and safety, diluting and discharging it to the ocean was the least objectionable approach. The task force presented relevant monitoring data from decades of similar releases of tritium to the ocean from nuclear facilities in Japan and abroad, noting that the quantities from the No. 1 plant would be many times smaller and the tritium levels in ocean life too low to be of real concern.
Tepco has made it clear that ocean release is its preference as well. The company says that it strives to meet government recommendations, and does not intend to act without government support, but is ultimately responsible for any actual decision.
In July 2017 Takashi Kawamura, chairman of Tepco, said publicly that the decision to release the tritiated water had already been made, and the public outcry was immediate, particularly from Fukushima fishermen who expected to be consulted. The company quickly backpedaled.
Constructing the dilution facilities and pipelines that an ocean release would require is expected to require almost a year after any decision is made. At the current rate, that means the “go” signal must be given by early 2019 at the latest. That no decision has been officially announced to date can be ascribed to the very reasonable expectation of a strong public backlash, and, I believe, the reluctance of any responsible government officials to be associated with such an unpopular decision.
Fishermen’s opposition
The strongest and most meaningful opposition comes from Fukushima’s fisheries cooperatives, which have suffered tremendously due to the 2011 disaster. Representatives of Tepco, METI and other government bodies that share the mandate for dealing with the contaminated water invariably stress how important it is to them to reach understanding and agreement with all stakeholders, the fisheries cooperatives in particular.
Takahiro Kimoto, a general manager in Tepco’s nuclear power division, explained, “The policies can’t and shouldn’t be determined by Tepco alone, but we continue discussing the available options with government and other stakeholders. These discussions are taking a long time, but we consider them essential.” Put bluntly, Tepco knows they will be pilloried no matter what, and seeks broad support.
Shuji Okuda, METI’s director for decommissioning and contaminated water management, stressed that no decision has yet been made regarding which of the five options for dealing with the tritiated water will be chosen. “It will be a decision of the Japanese government as a whole,” Okuda explains, “not one made by any single agency. And it will be based on ample discussions with all stakeholders.”
Although Tepco and METI indicate that they are prepared to accommodate the fishermen’s conditions regarding the release, the cooperatives are adamant. “We are totally opposed to the planned release,” explained Takaaki Sawada of the Iwaki Office of the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations, known as FS Gyoren. “It’s not a question of money or compensation,” he continued, “nor of any level of concentration we might accept as safe. We do not think it should be our responsibility to decide whether or not to release it. We think it will be impossible for the public in general to understand why tritium is considered low risk,” he continued, “and expect there will be a large new backlash against Fukushima marine products no matter how scientifically it is explained.”
Much hinges on public understanding of the risks, and therefore on transparency. Robust and effective two-way communication is essential, not to persuade the public that official plans are acceptable, but to better equip them to participate in the debate in an informed way, and to push back where they feel it is necessary. It is the public’s right to demand this kind of inclusion.
Communication should be aimed not only at fishermen and Japanese consumers, but internationally to all who are concerned about what the effect on the Pacific will be. The government has been sitting on the Task Force recommendations for almost two years without taking action. That it has taken this long to even begin planning to engage the public on this issue is, again, because no one in a governmental decision-making position wants to be politically associated with the consequences of a tritium release.
According to METI, the content, location and timing of the public sessions will be discussed at the next subcommitee meeting in July. People unable to attend in person will be able to submit comments and questions via email. Though hastily planned events could possibly be held before the end of this year, it seems likely they will need to happen in 2019, bumping up against the decision deadline.
While some fishermen are likely to attend, the cooperatives themselves will likely refuse. This situation requires the actual involvement of citizens in the decision making process, but it is difficult to find instances of that actually happening in Fukushima since the accident in 2011. At the central government level in particular, it has almost always been DAD.
Regardless of whether one trusts scientific opinion or Tepco, the tritiated water cannot be left in the tanks at No. 1 indefinitely, and releasing it to the ocean, though not without risk, is the least objectionable of the available options. As it stands now, given the depth of public mistrust and the nature of misinformation in our current era, the situation is ripe for the maximum misunderstanding and negative social impact to occur if and when this tritiated water is finally released.
Unfortunately, I think we should be prepared for things to be done the “Kasumigaseki way”: for the decision to be avoided until the last possible moment, and for government officials to claim then that an unavoidable emergency had arisen and it couldn’t be helped.
There will be negative social impact no matter what, but unless responsible government officials step up soon, own the decision and ensure that public engagement is genuine, broad, and effective, these negative impacts will be unnecessarily magnified.
Azby Brown is the lead researcher for Safecast, a volunteer-based NPO that conducts open, independent, citizen-run monitoring of radiation and other environmental hazards worldwide. http://www.safecast.org

Japan’s government weighs dumping radioactive Fukushima water into the Pacific

As the cleanup of a triple meltdown following an earthquake and tsunami at the Fukushima nuclear power plant drags into its seventh year, one of the biggest continuing threats is less from airborne radioactivity than it is simple water.
 
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A waterlogged radiation and tsunami warning sign found on Fukushima beaches in 2013.
May 22, 2018
As the cleanup of a triple meltdown following an earthquake and tsunami at the Fukushima nuclear power plant drags into its seventh year, one of the biggest continuing threats is less from airborne radioactivity than it is simple water.
On March 11, 2011, the Fukushima plant was devastated by a tsunami, which over the ensuing days sent three of its six reactors into meltdown, while hydrogen explosions cast radioactive iodine, cesium and other fission by-products into the air. More than 160,000 people were forced to evacuated in the wake of the disaster, which has now become synonymous with Chernobyl.
At the time, officials began pumping millions of liters of water into the destroyed reactors to keep them cool, often dumping it from helicopters and spraying it through water cannons. In the years since, the water inundation has become less dramatic, but in the absence of any other way to keep the molten fuel cool, the flow of water continues to flow through the remains of the reactors at the rate of some 160 tons of water a day.
While much of that water undergoes purification to remove significant amounts of radiation, filters can’t cleanse the water of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen — a process likened by some scientists to separating water from water.
As a result, water contaminated with tritium is building up and space to store it at the disaster site is running out. Of the 1.13 million-ton water storage capacity that the plant has, some 1.7 million tons have been used up.
Cleanup workers have to build a new steel water tank at the rate of one every four days to contain it all, and space to build more is becoming scarce. According to Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the tanks already sprawl over an area that could accommodate 32 football fields. All of the storage, says the government, will run out by 2021.
This looming crisis has left the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company, which owns Fukushima,  pondering how to get rid of this water – a decision that is generating anxiety and scare headlines as an expert committee weighs whether or not to release the water into the Pacific Ocean.
Despite the national and worldwide case of nerves such a decision might provoke the Japanese government says it can do it without a threat to the country’s fishing industry. Tritium, after all, is a substance that naturally occurs in rivers and seabeds – even tap water. What’s problematic with the tritium at Fukushima, though, is that its levels in the Fukushima water are 10 times higher than Japanese national standards for dumping it.
Because of that, the government’s expert panel is considering several methods for the water’s disposal, including evaporating it, releasing it into the sea after electrolysis, burying it underground or injecting it deep into the geology.
But as cleanup costs continue to spiral, with some Japanese think tanks speculating the final bill could be as much as $470 billion to $660 billion,  releasing the water into the sea – after diluting it – may turn out to be the cheapest option.
It’s not the first battle against water that the cleanup effort has fought. As recently as two years ago, some 400 tons of ground water flowed into the facility daily. Tokyo Electric Power somewhat stemmed that by building an underground wall of frozen soil to staunch the seepage of radioactive water.
has managed to decrease the inflow by installing a 30-yard-long “ice wall” fence that freezing cold brine is pumped through to freeze the soil around it, reports Wired. The chilled soil is meant to create a barrier to keep additional groundwater from spilling into the radioactive area.
But this year, on the seventh anniversary of the disaster, an expert group commissioned by the Japanese government concluded that the subterranean wall is not entirely effective against the deluge, and that other methods of battling leakage have to be devised.