Nuclear Waste From Fukushima to be Dumped into the Sea

Waste water produced by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident will be dumped into the sea, the head of TEPCO – the Japanese company responsible for cleaning up the mess – says. As you can imagine, fishermen and environmentalists are spitting mad. [1]

The Pacific Ocean will become home to about 580 barrels of water tainted with tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, which was used to cool the nuclear power plant’s damaged reactors. That’s nearly 770,000 tons of waste.

Local residents had no say in the matter, and they’ve expressed outrage at the plan.

Takashi Kawamura, chairman of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), said:

“The decision has already been made.”

Before TEPCO can dump the radioactive material, the government must first approve the decision.

Said Kawamura:

“We cannot keep going if we do not have the support of the state.”

Local fishermen are concerned the negative publicity over the proposed waste dump will harm their livelihoods.

Kanji Tachiya, head of a local fishermen’s cooperative, explained:

“Releasing (tritium) into the sea will create a new wave of unfounded rumors, making our efforts all for naught.” [2]

The European Union (EU) as well as dozens of other countries banned certain fish imports from Japan in the wake of the disaster, which occurred after a massive earthquake and tsunami struck Japan. The Fukushima Daiichi plant suffered multiple meltdowns, and reactor No. 1 spewed radiation that has plagued the region ever since. As of March 2017, 33% of the countries that originally banned fish imports still blocked shipments of certain seafood from Japan.

Read: 2012: Fukushima Fish Have 258 Times “Safe” Level of Radiation

Generally speaking, tritium isn’t dangerous to humans, unless they are exposed to high levels of the isotope. Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), claims that tritium is “so weak in its radioactivity it won’t penetrate plastic wrapping.” [1]

According to oceanographer Simon Boxall, the waste “will have a minimal effect on an ocean basin scale.” [2]

Read: Fukushima Radiation Detected on U.S. West Coast

But environmental activists don’t want nuclear-waste dumping to become the norm.

Aileen Mioko-Smith of Green Action Japan said:

“They say it will be safe because the ocean is large so it will be diluted, but that sets a precedent that can be copied, essentially permitting anyone to dump nuclear waste into our seas.”

She added:

“This accident happened more than 6 years ago, and the authorities should have been able to devise a way to remove the tritium instead of simply announcing that they are going to dump it in the ocean.” [1]

Unfortunately, the technology to remove tritium from water does not exist.

Sources:

[1] Newsweek

[2] Independent


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