A plan by Tepco to release water containing traces of radioactive materials from the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant into the Pacific has been halted by stiff opposition from the Fisheries Agency, sources said Wednesday.
Although Tokyo Electric Power Co. told the agency it would release the water after removing radioactive substances to an undetectable level, the agency is not approving the plan, leaving the fate of the 3,000 tons of water accumulated in the nuclear power station, located 15 km south of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant, undecided.
If the water remains in tanks for a prolonged time, the storage facility may be corroded by salt in the water.
About 7,000 tons of water accumulated at the Fukushima No. 2 power station when it was hit by tsunami on March 11.
Of that water, 3,000 tons in reactor, turbine and other buildings have been found to contain a small amount of radioactive materials, such as cobalt.
Tepco initially planned to let the water stay in the tanks, but changed its mind after seeing rust in the storage facility and decided to release the water into the sea.
The utility says the level of radioactive materials detected in the water is below the legal standard for releasing such water into the environment.
To seek acceptance of its plan, Tepco told the Fisheries Agency and local fishermen it would further clean the water with a mineral called zeolite before releasing it.
The agency declined comment on the matter.
Highly contaminated water has leaked into the sea from the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
The utility has also released water with a low level of contamination in line with its plans to deal with the nuclear crisis.
80% of hospitals damaged
About 80 percent of the combined 380 hospitals in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures were completely or partially destroyed by the massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the health ministry said Wednesday.
Among the 300 damaged hospitals with 20 or more beds, 11 were completely destroyed and the remaining 289 were partially destroyed in the three hardest-hit prefectures, according to data as of May 25 provided by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
As of May 17, 19 hospitals accepted a limited number of outpatients, while 17 were not able to accept any at all, the ministry added. Twenty-one were forced to restrict accepting inpatients and 31 stopped accepting them.
Of a total of 6,531 dental and smaller clinics with 19 or fewer beds in the three prefectures, 167 were totally wrecked, while 1,007 were partially destroyed, it said, citing figures as of April 19.
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