Tens of thousands of tons of contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear plant might have to be released into the Pacific Ocean, Japan’s environment minister said Tuesday.
The water, used to cool damaged fuel cores after the plant was damaged by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, is being stored in giant tanks at the site. But the storage space is running out.
FILE – Workers are seen in front of storage tanks for radioactive water at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, Feb. 18, 2019.
“The only option will be to drain it into the sea and dilute it,” Yoshiaki Harada said at a news briefing in Tokyo. “The whole of the government will discuss this, but I would like to offer my simple opinion.”
Tokyo Electric Power, which operates the nuclear plant, has said it will run out of storage space for the water in 2022.
For the past eight years since the meltdown of Fukushima’s three reactors, some 200 tons of radioactive water have been pumped out of the damaged buildings every day.
At another meeting, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government has not yet settled on a course of action. He said Harada’s opinions were his own.
“There is no fact that the method of disposal of contaminated water has been decided. The government would like to make a decision after making thorough discussion,” he said.
Japan’s vast fishing industry, as well as its neighbor South Korea, have strongly opposed the idea of dumping the contaminated water into the ocean.