National

Fukushima fisheries group opposes release of tritium-tainted water into sea

JIJI

The head of a fisheries industry group in Fukushima Prefecture expressed opposition on Thursday to the idea of releasing water containing radioactive tritium from a crippled nuclear plant in the prefecture into the ocean.

The tritium-tainted water is from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which was damaged heavily in the powerful earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

“At a time when harmful rumors are still circulating in Japan and some countries continue to restrict imports (of Fukushima goods), releasing the tainted water into the sea will inevitably deliver a fatal blow to the Fukushima fishery industry,” Tetsu Nozaki, who leads the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations, said.

His remarks came during a public hearing held by a subcommittee of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy in the Fukushima town of Tomioka.

The hearing was for the canvassing of opinions on how to deal with the tritium-tainted water. Releasing it into the sea has been proposed as one option. Similar hearings will be held in the city of Koriyama, Fukushima, and Tokyo on Friday.

Using special equipment, Tepco is lowering the radiation levels in contaminated water at the plant, but the device cannot remove tritium.

While the processed water is kept in tanks within the premises of the nuclear power station, the amount of tainted water continues to increase as the plant’s damaged reactors need to be cooled continuously. Tepco is about to run out of suitable sites to construct new storage tanks, according to the government.

Discussions on ways to deal with the tritium-contaminated water are underway at the subcommittee of the government agency.

In a June 2016 report, an expert panel of the agency said that releasing the polluted water into the sea after it is diluted with fresh water would be relatively cheap and time-efficient.