A decade after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the government is running out of time to decide what to do with tritium-laced groundwater that has been accumulating at the tsunami-hit No. 1 plant, with tanks to store the water set to run out of space next year.
With discharging the million-plus tons of radioactive water into the Pacific looking like the only option, the International Atomic Energy Agency chief has said the IAEA is ready to send a monitoring team to check the water if asked, to address concerns over the environmental impact of the release.
Last month, an executive with Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, aka Tepco, the utility that owns Fukushima No. 1, said it would compensate for declines in sales of local agricultural products caused by the planned release of the treated water.
Even 10 years after 3/11, some countries continue to restrict imports of food from Fukushima and surrounding areas. One is Taiwan, where voters two years ago approved a referendum to continue a ban on produce from the region. Despite Taiwan’s close ties to Japan, the ban looks unlikely to be lifted anytime soon, Kyodo reports — especially if the water release goes ahead.
Casting a wary eye on Fukushima’s experience, some fishers in far northern Suttsu fear their dwindling catches could also prove hard to sell if the town agrees to host a facility to store nuclear waste from around Japan, reports the Hokkaido Shimbun. Others, however, welcome the idea — and the money and jobs for the shrinking town that would come with the site.
Betting on nuclear doesn’t always pay off, though. Over 400 km north of Fukushima No. 1, a village in Aomori is still facing the repercussions of the 2011 meltdowns, reports the Kahoku Shimpo. Home to one idled nuclear plant and another that’s under construction but may never be finished, Higashidori is currently scraping by with the help of handouts from the nuclear industry.