In a rare victory for the embattled operator of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, a fishermen’s union has agreed to allow the release of decontaminated water from the plant into the ocean. Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), operator of the plant, has sought the permission of fishermen to transfer the water in the ocean as it tries to contain radioactive water on the site.
The nuclear reactor had a meltdown after the earthquake and tsunami struck the region in March 2011. A “groundwater bypass” will be set up for almost two years to allow water into the sea. Kenji Nakada from the Fukushima fisheries federation said, “The final consideration was based on the fact that we cannot allow them to release contaminated water. We realized that if the situation continued as it was, the whole system will fall down.” He added, “In such a case, the fisheries industry in Fukushima would be completely finished.” For the moment, thousands of tanks were built by TEPCO to hold the more than 431,000 metric tons of radioactive water, but they have already reached almost 90 percent of the tanks’ capacities.
Around 400 metric tons of water gets contaminated daily at the Fukushima plant. Groundwater gets mixed with the radioactive water in the basement as it trails down through broken floors. To combat this, TEPCO plans to release around 100 metric tons of water daily to the sea with the use a bypass before it even reaches the reactor buildings with the radiation-tainted water. Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority and the International Atomic Energy Agency recommended releasing water to make space for the irradiated water. The local fisheries union opposed the idea initially, as irradiated water from TEPCO’s tanks leaked to the sea, causing alarm and boycotts of local fish products. As the union allows the bypass of water to the sea, they have sought a third-party to help measure radiation levels of groundwater before being released. Less than 1 becquerels per liter of Cesium-134 is the only allowable amount set by the union, even as the legal limit of the highly radioactive element is 60 becquerels per liter in the ocean.
[via Yahoo News]
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