Japan tries to dilute tritium danger

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September 11, 2018
TEPCO could dump radioactive water into ocean any day. Help stop it!
From various correspondents
More than one million tonnes of radioactively contaminated water has already accumulated at the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant site, stored in steel tanks and increasing in volume daily — by some accounts one new tank is added every four days. Space to store it is rapidly running out. So far, the only “plan” TEPCO has come up with to deal with the problem is to dump the water into the Pacific Ocean.
The water is accumulating in part because about 150 tonnes of groundwater seeps daily through cracks in the stricken reactors’ foundations, thereby becoming contaminated with radioactive isotopes. In addition, water flows down the surrounding hillsides onto the site, picks up radiation, and must be captured and stored on site.
TEPCO has so far been pumping the contaminated water through a filtering system that can only remove cesium and strontium. But the process creates a highly toxic sludge as a byproduct, which also has to be stored in sealed canisters on site.
Tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, cannot of course be removed from water. Hence the plan to dump the radioactive (tritiated) water into the ocean. This move has long been strongly opposed by people from many spectra in Japan. A “Resolution Against the Ocean Dumping of Radioactive Tritium-contaminated Waste Water From the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant,” initiated by physics Professor Emeritus at Kyoto University, Kosaku Yamada, has already garnered signatures from 280 individuals and 35 organizations. The Resolution is reproduced below.
The goal of the resolution is to raise public awareness about the prolonged serious health effects of the Fukushima nuclear disaster that the Japanese government is taking every step to conceal.
Now, the organizers are calling on the international community to sign on as well. You can do so by sending your contact details directly to Professor Yamada at:
kosakuyamada@yahoo.co.jp
A Resolution Against the Ocean Dumping of Radioactive Tritium-contaminated Waste Water From the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant
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 including the fishery cooperatives who are strongly against the dumping. 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 the 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.

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What is tritium and why is its disposal difficult?

Another propaganda piece to justify Tepco and Japanese goverment’s decision to dump the 7 years plus accumulated radioactive water into the sea. Mind you in that water it is not only tritium but other types of harmful radionuclides are present.
Look how they phrased their B.S. :
1. “water containing tritium” used when talking about the treatment of contaminated water at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant operated by the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO).” Of course not mentioning the other contained radionuclides, lying by omission!!!
2. “Tritium emits beta radiation that has weak energy, and will mostly pass through the body if drank. Its effects on the human body are said to be minimal compared to radioactive cesium.” Said to be, does not mean it to be true!!!
 
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In this July 17, 2018 file photo, tanks containing water contaminated with radioactive materials are seen on the grounds of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture
 
September 6, 2018
The Mainichi Shimbun answers some common questions readers may have about the characteristics of tritium, and why it is hard to dispose of water containing the radioactive element.
Question: I heard the term “water containing tritium” used when talking about the treatment of contaminated water at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant operated by the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO).
Answer: It refers to treated water including tritium. The element cannot be removed using the current purification method used at the crippled nuclear power plant. The government and TEPCO are considering ways to dispose of the liquid, which is continuing to fill waste water tanks at the plant.
Q: What kind of substance is tritium?
A: Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen containing one proton and two neutrons while the ordinary hydrogen nucleus contains just one proton. It has a half-life of about 12.3 years, which is the time required to reduce half of its radioactivity.
Q: Is tritium found only in the treated water from the damaged nuclear plant?
A: Tritium can also develop when oxygen and nitrogen in the atmosphere react to cosmic neutrons. Around 70 quadrillion becquerels appear naturally per year, and around a total of 223 trillion becquerels are contained in Japan’s annual rainfall, according to data compiled by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). Coolant in normal operating nuclear reactors also carries tritium. At the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, tritium is generated in groundwater pouring into the buildings that house reactors, and in water used to cool melted fuel debris.
Q: Why is it difficult to dispose of tritium?
A: Other radioactive substances can be removed using specific disposal equipment for filtration and absorption to levels below the allowed ceiling. However, separation is very hard for water containing tritium because its characteristics, including the boiling temperature, are similar to those of normal water.
Q: What about the impact it will have on human health, as it is radioactive?
A: Tritium emits beta radiation that has weak energy, and will mostly pass through the body if drank. Its effects on the human body are said to be minimal compared to radioactive cesium. Nuclear power plants around the world are disposing water containing tritium according to regulations, in oceans and other places, once it has been diluted to a radiation level that falls below standard limits. According to METI, Japan released into oceans around 380 trillion becquerels of tritium per year on average for five years before the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
(Answers by Riki Iwama, Science & Environment News Department)

All options need to be weighed for Fukushima plant tainted water

“A task force of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has considered five options, including release into the Pacific Ocean after dilution, injection into deep underground strata and release into the air after vaporization. The group has concluded that dumping the water into the ocean would be the quickest and least costly way to get rid of it.
This is seen as the best option within the government.”
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Contaminated water is stored in large tanks at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
 
September 6, 2018
The government has held public hearings on plans to deal with growing amounts of radioactive water from the ruined Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The hearings, held in Tomioka and Koriyama in Fukushima Prefecture as well as in Tokyo, underscored the enormous difficulty government policymakers are having in grappling with the complicated policy challenge.
The crippled reactors at the plant are still generating huge amounts of water contaminated with radiation every day. Tons of groundwater percolating into the damaged reactor buildings as well as water being injected into the reactors to cool the melted fuel are constantly becoming contaminated.
Almost all the radioactive elements are removed from the water with a filtering system. But the system cannot catch tritium, a mildly radioactive isotope of hydrogen.
The tritium-contaminated water is stored on-site in hundreds of large tanks. As the number of tanks has reached 900, the remaining space for them is shrinking and expected to run out by around 2020, according to the government.
Clearly, time is growing short on deciding what to do about the problem.
A task force of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has considered five options, including release into the Pacific Ocean after dilution, injection into deep underground strata and release into the air after vaporization. The group has concluded that dumping the water into the ocean would be the quickest and least costly way to get rid of it.
This is seen as the best option within the government.
Tritium is a common radioactive element in the environment that is formed naturally by atmospheric processes. Nuclear power plants across the nation release tritium produced in their operations into the sea according to legal safety standards.
But these facts do not automatically mean that releasing the tritium-laced water into the sea off Fukushima is a good approach to the problem.
Local communities in areas affected by the 2011 nuclear disaster are making strenuous efforts to rebuild the local fishing and agricultural industries that have been battered by the radiation scare. There are still countries that ban imports of foodstuffs produced in Fukushima Prefecture.
Local fishermen and other community members have every reason to oppose the idea of releasing tritium into the ocean. They are naturally concerned that the discharge would produce new bad rumors that deliver an additional blow to the reputation and sales of Fukushima food products.
Unsurprisingly, most of the citizens who spoke at the hearings voiced their opposition to the idea.
Moreover, it was reported last month that high levels of radioactive strontium and iodine surpassing safety standards had been detected in the treated water.
The revelation has made local communities even more distrustful of what they have been told about operations to deal with the radioactive water.
It is obvious that the hearings at only three locations are not enough to sell any plan to cope with the sticky problem to skeptical local residents. The government needs to create more opportunities for communication with them.
In doing so, the government should show a flexible stance without adamantly making the case for the idea of releasing the water into the sea. Otherwise, there can be no constructive debate on the issue.
It can only hope to win the trust of the local communities if it gives serious consideration to other options as well.
During the hearings, many speakers suggested that the water should be kept in large tanks until the radioactivity level falls to a very low level.
The pros and cons of all possible options, including this proposal, should be weighed carefully through cool-headed debate before the decision is made.
Repeated discussions with fruitful exchanges of views among experts and citizens including local residents are crucial for ensuring that the final decision on the plan will win broad public support.
The government and Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the Fukushima plant, should disclose sufficient information for such discussions and give thoughtful and scrupulous explanations about relevant issues and details.
The government, which has been promoting nuclear power generation as a national policy priority, has the responsibility of building a broad and solid consensus on this problem.

B.S. Propaganda Explaining that Radioactive Water Sea Dumping in Fukushima is Essential

As always the propaganda organs of the nuclear village and of the Japanese government are lying by omission, twisting the real facts, in order to justify their intention to dump the Fukushima daiichi’s 7 years accumulated radioactive water at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the sea, to dump it into the Pacif Ocean would be criminal, plain ecocide.
As this 920 000 tons of radioactive water is not only tritium-laced water as the media would like the public to believe. It contains also other types of harmful radionuclides as Tepco has recently admitted:
TEPCO Admitted Almost 200 Billion Bq of Priorly Undeclared Radionuclides Water Contamination
Radioactive tritium and other types of radionuclides in Fukushima nuclear plant water, despite water treatment
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‘Carefully explaining treated water discharge in Fukushima essential’

Sept. 4, 2018
How should “treated water,” which continues to accumulate at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, be disposed of? A plan must be quickly decided so this water does not cause delays in reactor decommissioning work.
Water is used to cool the reactor cores that melted down at the nuclear plant. Groundwater also flows into the plant, where it becomes contaminated by radioactive substances. Water collected at the site and passed through a purification facility is called “treated water.”
More than 900,000 tons of such water is being stored in tanks. This volume is said to be expected to increase by 50,000 tons to 80,000 tons each year.
About 900 tanks of various types already have been built on the plant’s premises. Finding space for additional tanks is becoming increasingly difficult, and plans to build more tanks run only until the end of 2020. If these tanks fill up the plant’s premises, there likely will not be enough room to perform the work needed to decommission the reactors.
The problem is that about 900 trillion becquerels of the radioactive substance tritium (an isotope known as hydrogen-3) remain in the treated water. In principle, removing tritium from water is difficult. The most promising option is releasing this water into the ocean. This would be done after dilution to bring the concentration of tritium to acceptable standards.
Tritium is generated daily at nuclear plants in Japan and overseas and then discharged into the sea in accordance with set standards. The volume released from Japanese nuclear power plants during the five years before the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake averaged about 380 trillion becquerels per year.
Relieve locals’ concerns
Each year, cosmic rays create about 70 quadrillion becquerels of tritium. Japan’s annual rainfall naturally contains about 223 trillion becquerels. The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry and the Nuclear Regulation Authority have explained that levels of tritium below a certain concentration have no negative impact on the environment, among other things.
Releasing tritiated water into the ocean, after the safety of this process has been thoroughly confirmed, is unavoidable.
At public hearings held by the ministry in a bid to turn this plan into reality, many attendees offered the opinion that assurances of the safety of discharging this water “couldn’t be trusted.”
Although this is a technically complex problem, the materials and explanations given at these hearings were very simple. As the explanations were made on the assumption that attendees had basic knowledge about topics such as radiation, attendees demanded the ministry “reexamine the plan from scratch.”
Criticism also focused on the fact that radioactive substances other than tritium remain in the treated water. This was triggered by some media reports on the issue just before the hearings.
Since four years ago, TEPCO has explained it attached great importance to efficiency in the purification process. This was to reduce the impact of radiation on workers at the plant and other people. TEPCO plans to remove the remaining radioactive substances when the water is discharged, but this process was not mentioned in the materials distributed at the hearings.
It appears the lack of explanation about possible risks has fueled the backlash to the discharge plan.
Locals, including people involved in the fishing industry, oppose releasing the water into the ocean because of possible damage and losses arising from negative public misperceptions. They are concerned that discharging treated water could once again have a negative impact on confidence in products from the area, which has been slowly recovering.
Of course, efforts must be made to call on local residents to get behind the plan. The government and TEPCO also should take stronger measures over wide areas to counter harmful misperceptions.

Fukushima water release into sea faces chorus of opposition

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Sep 1, 2018
Citizens and environmental groups have expressed opposition to the idea of releasing into the ocean water tainted with tritium, a radioactive substance, from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
“Long-term storage (of the tritium-containing water) is possible from technical and economic standpoints,” Komei Hosokawa, 63, an official of the Citizens’ Commission on Nuclear Energy, said at a public hearing held in Tokyo on Friday by a subcommittee of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy. “The radiation levels in the water will decrease during the long-term storage,” he added.
At a similar hearing held the same day in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, Aki Hashimoto, a housewife from the city, said, “I never want to see further worsening of ocean pollution from radiation.”
Opinions objecting to the release of the tritium-contaminated water into the ocean were also heard at a hearing held in the Fukushima town of Tomioka on Thursday.
After Friday’s hearings, Ichiro Yamamoto, who heads the subcommittee, told reporters that many participants in the hearings said the tainted water should continue to be held in storage tanks.
The subcommittee will study the option of keeping the water in the tanks, he added.
Tepco is lowering the radiation levels in contaminated water at the Fukushima No. 1 plant using special equipment, but the device cannot remove tritium.
The tritium-tainted water is stored in tanks within the premises of the power plant, which was heavily damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
In 2016, an expert panel of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy discussed five methods to dispose of the tritium-tainted water —injection deep into the ground, release into the sea after dilution, release into the air through evaporation, conversion into hydrogen through electrolysis, and burying it after it is solidified.
The panel estimated that the ocean release is the cheapest option, costing up to about ¥3.4 billion.

Residents blast water-discharge method at Fukushima plant

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Tanks containing radioactive water are seen in the compound of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant that spans the towns of Okuma and Futaba in Fukushima Prefecture.
 
August 31, 2018
TOMIOKA, Fukushima Prefecture–Fishermen and local residents on Aug. 30 vehemently opposed the government’s plan to discharge radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea, saying the measure will damage a number of industries.
During a public hearing on the measure, they also blasted the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., for “misleading” the public by failing to disclose that radioactive substances, such as strontium, remained in the water to be discharged.
Although the ministry and TEPCO will likely have to repeat purification measures for the water to remove those substances, they gained little support for their plan to deal with the radioactive water accumulating at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
Thirteen of the 14 people who were allowed to express their opinions at the ministry-organized public hearing expressed opposition to the water-discharge plan.
“The (negative) influences of the measure will reach a wide range of fields, including not only the fishery industry but also tourism and restaurant businesses,” said Tatsuya Ito, a resident of Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, and a member of “Genpatsu-mondai Jumin-undo Zenkoku-renraku Center (National liaison center for residents’ movements on nuclear power generation issues).
Tetsu Nozaki, chairman of the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations, emphasized that releasing the water into the sea would deal a “devastating blow” to the prefecture’s fisheries industry.
“If the water is discharged in large quantities, it will inevitably cause confusion in Japan and abroad and lead to damage from groundless rumors,” Nozaki said.
After the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami caused the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 plant in March 2011, coastal fishing in Fukushima Prefecture was suspended because of radioactive water flowing into the sea.
Fishing for three types of fish later resumed on a trial basis. Now, more than 170 types are permitted, and preparations are being made for a full-scale resumption of operations.
But at the plant, groundwater flowing into the damaged reactor buildings continues to pose a problem, even after underground frozen walls were completed to divert the clean water into the sea.
About 100 tons of groundwater still become contaminated every day after entering the buildings. TEPCO also injects 70 tons of water daily into each of the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 reactors to cool the melted fuel.
Water from the buildings is purified, and 100 tons are stored in large tanks in the compound of the plant per day. The remaining water is re-injected into the reactors.
The volume of water stored in those tanks has reached 920,000 tons in the seven-and-a-half years since the triple meltdown. About 900 tanks, including those for unpurified water, now stand at the plant.
The ministry says that increasing the number of tanks will become impossible in late 2020 due to the limited space. It believes that a method to dispose of radioactive water must be decided within this year at the earliest.
The facilities used to purify the water remove radioactive substances, such as cesium and strontium, but they cannot eliminate tritium, whose chemical nature is the same as hydrogen’s.
Discharging tritium into the sea is permitted if its radioactivity level is less than the statutory standard of 60,000 becquerels per liter of water.
But at the public hearing, the participants learned that traces of strontium also remained in the purified water.
“(The ministry and TEPCO) have misled the public,” said Kazuyoshi Sato, an Iwaki city assemblyman. “They made a serious mistake in the fair disclosure of a wide range of information.”
After the hearing, Ichiro Yamamoto, professor emeritus of nuclear power at Nagoya University and chairman of a government subcommittee on disposing of radioactive water, admitted that the government failed to sufficiently explain the fact that radioactive substances other than tritium remained in the water.
“I think that it is necessary to purify the water again,” he said.
In May 2016, a ministry working group offered five methods to dispose of the radioactive water: putting it into geological layers; discharging it into the sea; releasing it as steam; discharging it as hydrogen; and burying it in the ground.
The group said if the radioactive water is diluted and released into the sea, it would cost 3.4 billion yen ($30 million) and take seven years and four months to complete. It concluded that this was cheapest and quickest of the five methods.
Toyoshi Fuketa, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, also supported the measure of releasing the water into the sea, saying, “It is the only feasible method.”

Gov’t, TEPCO plan to dump treated water in sea angers Fukushima fishermen

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In this July 17, 2018 file photo, tanks containing water contaminated with radioactive materials are seen from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter on the grounds of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture.
 
August 30, 2018
TOKYO/IWAKI, Fukushima — In response to a Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry plan to release water containing radioactive tritium even after being treated from the tsunami-stricken Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean, Fukushima’s fishing industry is biting back.
A panel of experts from the economy ministry is holding the first public meetings in Tokyo and Fukushima Prefecture on Aug. 30 and 31 concerning the future of the growing number of tanks of treated water around the power plant in the northeastern Japanese prefecture.
The ministry and TEPCO have expressed intentions to make a final decision sometime this year on whether to dump the treated water into the sea, saying that they are approaching the limit of the amount of water that the facilities can accommodate. However, fishermen and others involved in the marine product industry in Fukushima Prefecture, who have conducted numerous safety tests of their products, say that such a move would only undermine the trust they have been trying to build concerning safety, building up a sense of crisis.
“Scientists can simply say, ‘It’s fine to dump (the water) into the ocean,’ but will the citizens of Japan still buy fish from Fukushima (afterward) like they do now?” So asked 63-year-old Toru Takahashi, a fisherman from Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, who rebuilt his boat damaged in the 2011 tsunami and has participated in the testing of the fish off of Fukushima’s shores. Takahashi believes that the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s approval of the plan to dump the water containing tritium — which cannot be filtered using current technology — in the Pacific Ocean put forth by the economy ministry as the fastest and most low-cost method of disposal, lacks the perspective of fishermen and those in the marine product industry.
After high concentrations of radioactive materials were washed into the ocean in the nuclear disaster at the power plant in 2011, fishing along the coast of Fukushima was halted completely. From the following year, the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries and Co-operative Associations began trial operations and other activities to test the safety of marine products, expanding the range of fishing areas and species. Since April 2015, there have been no cases of fish exceeding the government standard of 100 becquerels of radioactivity per kilogram. The catch has been only a little more than 10 percent that of before the accident, fishing of core species has begun again, and radiation below the minimum detection limit is found in over 99 percent of the products tested this year.
It is precisely for this reason that the notion of releasing the treated water into the ocean off Fukushima’s coast is causing concerns in the fishing industry.
“We don’t intend to protest on scientific grounds, but the problem is that the measure hasn’t gained the understanding of the citizens of Japan. It will be a huge blow to the Fukushima fishing industry,” said Fukushima prefectural fisheries federation chairman Tetsu Nozaki, who plans to make his opposition to the plan known at the forum in Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture, on Aug. 30.
The contaminated water in question is that which has been used to cool the melted nuclear fuel rods in the reactor and the ground water around the plant, and each day, roughly 220 tons of such water is amassed, and is expected to amount to 55,000 tons per year in the future. Currently, there are 880 containment tanks on the grounds of the nuclear plant. Even after treating the water, tritium cannot be removed.
According to the Nuclear Regulation Authority, if an individual was to drink 2 liters of water containing the maximum standard amount of tritium every day, then they would be exposed to an additional roughly 1 millisievert of radiation annually, which is equal to the actual radiation exposure limit put forth by the International Commission on Radiological Protection.
After collecting the opinions of the participants in the public hearings, the government plans to make a final decision about processing the water in cooperation with TEPCO before the end of the year.
(Japanese original by Tatsushi Inui, Iwaki Local Bureau, and Riki Iwama, Science & Environment News Department)