Fukushima nuclear power plant: tritium water to be discharged into the sea

fukushima nuclear power plant: tritium water to be discharged into the sea

Water that accumulated at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was damaged ten years ago, or was used for cooling, will soon be discharged into the sea. The Japanese government will officially adopt a plan to do so on Tuesday, Japanese media, including the Kyodo news agency, report from inside sources.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where meltdowns occurred after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, continues to need a lot of water to cool the molten fuel. It is cleaned and filtered, but the process cannot remove tritium, a byproduct of nuclear fission.

Water is currently being stored on the NPP site. Space for tanks is running out, and it will also be needed to store the fuel, which will begin to be recovered in about two years, Kyodo reports.

Postponed decision

A year ago, a working group of the Japanese government had worked out a disposal concept for the tritium water, including evaporation. Nuclear power plant operator Tepco then devised a plan to evaporate the water to below the legal limit before discharging it into the sea.

A decision on how to dispose of the water was supposed to be made last fall, but the Japanese government postponed it because of a major need for discussion. Concerns had been raised by local fisheries as well as Sud Korea and China. These two countries are asking Japan to ensure that the process of water disposal is carried out carefully and transparently. China and Sud Korea restrict imports of Japanese agricultural and fishery products since the nuclear catastrophe.

1.37 million cubic feet

A team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) concluded last year that both evaporation and discharge into the sea are technically feasible. The methods have also been routinely used by nuclear power plants around the world based on regulatory approvals and safety and environmental impact assessments.

At Fukushima Daiichi, contaminated water is treated by the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) process. This removes radionuclides and then stores them on site. The total storage capacity of the tanks was about 1.37 million cubic meters by the end of 2020. They are expected to be full around summer 2022, according to IAEA estimates.

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