Fishermen slam plan to release tainted water


Tokyo Electric Power Co. drew heavy fire from fishermen’s groups Thursday after announcing plans to release water contaminated with low-level radiation into the Pacific, possibly in March.

High-level radioactive water leaked into the sea from the Fukushima No. 1 plant in April, drawing flak not only from fishermen but also from other Pacific Rim countries. After the incident, Tepco released low-level contaminated water to make room for more toxic water.

Tepco said the step is inevitable, considering the present storage capacity for low-level contaminated water, which is produced daily in the cooling process for the crippled reactors. At its current pace, the water may exceed the storage capacity by March, it said.

To ease fishermen’s anger and concerns, the utility said it will release low-radioactive water after significantly reducing radioactive substances to below the government limit. That didn’t wash.

On Thursday, Ikuhiro Hattori, chairman of the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations (Zengyoren), lodged a protest at Tepco’s headquarters.

“No matter how low the radiation level of the water, its release into the sea would cause further damage to our business by harming the reputation” of Japanese seafood products, a statement handed to Tepco said. It called the discharge “unforgivable.”