Author: Tronserve admin
Tuesday 3rd August 2021 12:08 AM
Release Radioactive Fukushima Water Fukushima Water into Sea or Air? Japan Narrows down Options
The economy and industry ministry has proposed gradually releasing or allowing to evaporate massive amounts of waste liquid that has been treated but is still contaminated with radioactive materials at the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant.
The proposal, made Monday to a body of experts, is the first time the ministry has narrowed down the options available to just releasing the contaminated waste. It is meant to tackle the huge headache for the plant’s operator posed by the waste as storage space runs out, despite fears of a backlash from the public.
Nearly nine years after the 2011 triple meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, the radioactive waste is still accumulating, generated by the flow of water needed to keep the cores cooled and minimize leaks from the damaged reactors.
For years, a government panel has been discussing ways to handle the crisis and to reassure fishermen and residents who fear potential health impacts from release of the contaminated liquid as well as harm to the region’s image.
In Monday’s draft proposal, the ministry suggested a controlled release of the liquid into the Pacific, allowing it to evaporate, or a combination of the two methods. The ministry said a controlled release into the sea was the best option because it would “stably dilute and disperse” the waste from the plant using a method endorsed by the United Nations’ Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation. It also would facilitate monitoring of radiation levels in the environment.
Releasing the entire amount of liquid over one year would only increase radiation levels to thousands of times less than those humans usually experience from the natural environment, according to the ministry’s documentation. In the proposal, the ministry noted that evaporation is a method that was tested and proven following the 1979 core meltdown at Three Mile Island, where it took two years to get rid of 87,000 tons of radioactive tritiated water.
The government and the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., have been unable to get rid of the more than 1 million tons of radioactive liquid that has been treated and stored, due to opposition from local fishermen and residents fearing further damage to Fukushima’s reputation and recovery. The utility has managed to cut down the volume of the liquid by pumping up groundwater from upstream before it reaches the plant, and installing a costly underground “ice wall” around the reactor buildings to prevent other water from running into the area.
Tepco says it has space to store only up to 1.37 million tons of the waste liquid, and only until the summer of 2022, raising speculation that it may be released after the Tokyo Olympics next summer. Tepco and experts say the tanks get in the way of decommissioning work and that they need to free up the space to build storage for debris removed and other radioactive materials. The tanks also could spill out their contents in the event of a major earthquake, tsunami or flood.
Experts, including those at the International Atomic Energy Agency who have inspected the Fukushima plant, say the controlled release of the liquid into the ocean is the only realistic option, though it will take decades.
A government panel had earlier compiled a report that listed five options, including releasing the liquid into the sea and evaporation. The three others included underground burial and an injection into offshore deep geological layers.
The panel has also discussed possibly storing the radioactive liquid in large industrial tanks outside the plant, but the ministry proposal ruled that out, citing risks of leakage in case of corrosion, tsunami or other disasters and accidents, as well as the technical challenge of transporting the water elsewhere.