Tokyo Electric Power Co. is planning to pump contaminated groundwater from drainage wells at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and dump it into the ocean after removing almost all radioactive materials, company officials said Thursday.
The plan is aimed at reducing the amount of toxic water building up at the complex, a problem that has been plaguing Tepco since it started trying to clean up the stricken power plant in 2011.
An estimated 400 tons of untainted groundwater is seeping into the shattered reactor buildings and mixing with toxic water generated in the process of cooling the reactors.
Currently, Tepco is running another system it calls “ground bypass” that is aimed at pumping up untainted groundwater before it mixes with toxic water. The utility has dumped such water into the Pacific Ocean numerous times after confirming its safety, but has not released water that was contaminated and then treated.
The utility explained the plan to Fukushima fishermen at the end of July, the Tepco officials said, who added that the water will be dumped in the sea only after obtaining consent from them.
Concern remains high that the move will increase consumer suspicion about marine products from the area.
Tepco is currently constructing a new water treatment facility, as well as an iron wall on the sea side of the plant, in an attempt to keep the toxic water from flowing into the ocean. Both are expected to be completed in September.