A national fishermen’s organization on Thursday criticized Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s management of the radioactive water accumulating at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and said the utility should act under government guidance to remedy the situation.
“Your company’s radioactive water management has failed,” the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations told Tepco President Naomi Hirose after it invited him to its office in Tokyo. “We want the problem to be fundamentally resolved as early as possible under the government’s leadership.”
Hirose apologized for the recently confirmed leak of highly toxic water from one of the huge storage tanks at Fukushima No. 1, some of which is believed to have reached the Pacific Ocean.
The federation urged the utility to put an end to problems stemming from the massive amount of radioactive water at the plant.
The federation said in its statement that local fishermen are “largely disappointed” by the escalating toxic water problem as they have been waiting to resume their operations.
On Wednesday, the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations decided to suspend “trial operations” off Fukushima.
Such trials limit the area of fishing and only allow shipment of products confirmed to be safe.
A fisheries cooperative covering the northern part of the prefecture has been conducting such an operation for more than a year, while another cooperative based in the southern part of the prefecture had planned to resume a similar operation in September.
However, Tepco admitted in July that contaminated groundwater was flowing from the nuclear complex into the sea area inside the breakwaters. It also found last week that a large amount — perhaps 300 tons — of highly toxic water had escaped from a storage tank.
The highly radioactive water had been used to cool the three reactors that suffered meltdowns in March 2011.
In Qatar on Wednesday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his administration will take charge of the efforts to contain the Fukushima No. 1 disaster, following revelations of the radioactive water leak from the storage tank.
“There is a need for the government to address the issue with a sense of urgency and not just leave it all up to Tokyo Electric Power Co.,” he said.
Abe, who is in Qatar on the last leg of a trip to the Middle East and Africa, said the government will thoroughly disseminate to the people in Japan and abroad information about the containment effort.
In Tokyo on Wednesday, Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, said Tepco’s inexact monitoring of contaminated water stored at Fukushima No. 1 may have led the utility to overstate last week’s storage tank leak.
The loss of 300 metric tons that Tepco reported was based on an assumption that the tank had been full before the leak was discovered, Tanaka. That assumption may not have been reliable because there was no gauge measuring the tank’s water level, he said.
“We have no idea whether it’s actually 300 tons that leaked,” Tanaka said. “We need to look into this issue more.”
Tepco’s management of the contaminated water at the crippled nuclear plant has already drawn fire from Shinji Kinjo, leader of a disaster task force at the NRA, who has said the utility was careless in its monitoring of the storage tanks and failed to keep records of its inspections.
Managing the water, which is increasing at a rate of 400 tons a day, is a fundamental challenge for Tepco as it struggles with the catastrophe.