D.he company operating the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant wants to dispose of more than a million tons of treated wastewater through an underground pipe into the sea. The one-kilometer line is to be built under the sea floor, as the company Tepco announced on Wednesday. The Tokyo government decided in April to drain the water within two years.
The government argues that draining the water into the Pacific is safe because virtually all of the radioactive elements have been filtered out. However, neighboring countries and fishing associations are protesting against the plans. The company Tepco says it plans to start construction by March next year. Feasibility studies and government approval are to be awaited beforehand.
Fishermen fear competitive disadvantages
1.27 million tons of treated water are to be pumped into the Pacific via the tunnel. This includes water that was needed to cool the nuclear facility after the nuclear accident, but also rainwater and groundwater from the radioactively contaminated site. The water is currently stored in more than a thousand tanks on the site of the Fukushima nuclear power plant. According to the operating company Tepco, storage capacities will be exhausted from autumn 2022.
Fishermen in the region fear that they will no longer get rid of their catch after the sewage tunnel has gone into operation, or that they will only get rid of it at poor prices.
The commissioner for the dismantling of the nuclear power plant, Akira Ono, said that draining it through a tunnel would mean that the water would not be washed back towards the land. Tepco undertook to pay compensation if necessary. The company has also agreed to have the facility checked by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The Fukushima nuclear power plant by the sea was hit by an almost 15-meter-high tsunami wall of water shortly after a severe earthquake on March 11, 2011. The power plant’s cooling system failed, and there was a core meltdown in three of the six reactors. The disaster turned surrounding places into ghost towns. It was the worst nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.