Fukushima treated water likely to be discharged in spring or summer

A planned discharge of treated water from the crippled nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture into the sea will start around this spring or summer, some two years after a decision on its release was made, the Japanese government said Friday.

A revised policy on the disposal of the treated water containing low-level concentrations of tritium as well as financial support for affected fishing communities was endorsed during a meeting of relevant Cabinet ministers on Friday. The communities and neighboring China remain opposed to the release of water about 1 kilometer off the Pacific coast.

To ensure the discharge is in line with international safety standards and poses no harm to public health and the environment, the International Atomic Energy Agency has conducted several safety reviews of the plan.

The agency will issue a comprehensive report based on their findings and provide support before, during and after the discharge.

According to the revised policy, the government will aid fishermen who fear reputational damage will impact the sales of their catch through a new 50 billion yen ($385 million) fund.

Following the nuclear disaster triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan in 2011, a vast amount of water is still needed to continually cool the melted fuel and fuel debris at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

The water pumped in for this purpose has mixed with groundwater and rainwater, accumulating in storage tanks at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.'s crippled complex after being treated with an advanced liquid processing system that removes most radionuclides.

The government decided in April 2021 on its policy to start discharging treated water around two years later.

Most nuclear power plants around the world routinely and safely release treated water containing low-level concentrations of tritium and other radionuclides to the environment as part of normal operations, according to the IAEA.

© Kyodo News