National

Osaka mayor Ichiro Matsui offers to take in tainted Fukushima water and dump it into Osaka Bay

by Eric Johnston

Staff Writer

Ichiro Matsui, the mayor of Osaka and head of Nippon Ishin no Kai, said Tuesday that water tainted by radioactive tritium from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant could — if proven environmentally safe — be sent to Osaka and dumped into Osaka Bay.

“It’s necessary for all of Japan to dispose of that which creates absolutely no environmental damage. If (the radioactive water) is brought to us, it can be released,” Matsui said.

He added that he first would want a team of scientific experts to study the matter, and that the team would need to show that the level of radioactivity in any Fukushima water was at or below normal levels of radiation.

Matsui’s offer comes as the central government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. continue to discuss what to do with the more than 1 million tons of contaminated water collected since the Fukushima plant was destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011. The water is being stored in tanks at the site, but Tepco has said it will run out of storage space in about three years.

Former Environment Minister Yoshiaki Harada angered Fukushima residents and the local fishing industry earlier this month when he said that the water might have to be dumped into the ocean. The government has said that dumping the water contaminated with tritium would not pose any health risks to humans.

“The only option will be to drain it into the sea and dilute it,” Harada told a news conference.

Newly appointed Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi met with Fukushima officials after assuming the post last week, but he did not clearly indicate how he wanted to deal with disposal of the radioactive water.