Fukushima nuclear power plant: Tritium water is to be discharged into the sea

Water that has accumulated in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that was damaged ten years ago or was used for cooling will soon be discharged into the sea. The Japanese government will officially adopt a plan for this on Tuesday, reports Japanese media, including the Kyodo news agency, from inside circles.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where core meltdowns occurred after the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, continues to need a lot of water to cool the molten fuel. Although it is cleaned and filtered, the process cannot remove any tritium, which is a by-product of nuclear fission.

The water is currently stored on the nuclear power plant site. Space for tanks is becoming scarce, and it is also needed to store the fuel, the recovery of which is to begin in around two years. reports Kyodo.

A year ago a working group of the Japanese government developed a disposal concept for the tritium water, which also dealt with evaporation. Nuclear power plant operator Tepco then drew up a plan to dilute the water below the legal limit before it is discharged into the sea.

A decision about the disposal of the water should actually be made last autumn, but the Japanese government postponed it because of the need for great discussion. The local fisheries as well as South Korea and China had expressed concerns. These two countries require Japan to ensure that the water disposal process is carried out carefully and transparently. China and South Korea have been restricting imports of Japanese agricultural and fishery products since the nuclear disaster.

A team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) found last year that both evaporation and discharges into the sea were technically feasible. The methods would also be routinely used by nuclear power plants around the world based on regulatory approvals and safety and environmental impact assessments.

In Fukushima Daiichi, contaminated water is treated using the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS). This removes radionuclides and then stores them on site. The total storage capacity of the tanks was around 1.37 million cubic meters by the end of 2020. According to IAEA estimates, they should be full by summer 2022.


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