Japan's nuclear regulator on Friday officially approved a plan to discharge into the sea contaminated but since-treated water accumulating at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in the northeast.

The government and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. aim to begin releasing the water from about 1 kilometer off the Pacific coast in Fukushima Prefecture around next spring. The water contains hard-to-remove tritium below an allowed ceiling and will be further diluted.

Tepco will start construction of discharge facilities after gaining consent from localities hosting the plant, but fishing communities in Japan oppose the plan out of fear of reputational damage to the seafood industry.