The dumping of treated radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean will begin this Thursday, August 24, the Japanese government announced Tuesday.
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The Government and the company that owns the plant, Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), have verified the “safety” of the spill and have therefore decided to begin this week with it, declared the Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, after a meeting with the ministries involved in the management of the atomic disaster.
The decision comes after the visit this past weekend of the president to the plant in the northeast of the country to check the state of preparations and after the support of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for the plan.
The start of the spill will take place this Thursday as planned “if there are no meteorological or maritime conditions” that prevent it, Kishida said in statements to reporters.
Fukushima’s water consists of water contaminated during the cooling process of damaged reactors and melted fuel from the nuclear accident triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, as well as rainwater seepage into the facility during these more than ten years.
This water has been being stored in tanks after undergoing extensive processing to remove most radioactive elements, but the containers and physical storage space at the facility are reaching their limits.
Until the end of July, some 1.34 million tons of treated water had been stored, around 98% of the maximum capacity.
The liquid processed and diluted in seawater before being discharged into the sea contains low amounts of tritium, a radioactive isotope, as well as other residues of radioactive materials in concentrations considered safe within international safety limits for the nuclear industry, according to the IAEA. .
Despite this argument, the country’s fishing community, and especially the local fishermen from Fukushima, have been showing their rejection of the initiative, due to the new blow that the spill will entail for the reputation of the catches in the area, already weighed down by the consequences of the nuclear crisis.
Just yesterday, representatives of the Japan Fishermen’s Federation reiterated their opposition in a meeting with Kishida and today, before the scheduled announcement of the date, several hundred people gathered in front of Parliament to protest against the spill, which is also opposed by countries neighbors like South Korea and China.
The spill is expected to last for decades, potentially as long as the decommissioning of the nuclear power plant lasts.