Japan to dump 1.25Mt Radioactive Water in Pacific
Earlier this Tuesday, the Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, confirmed that the government had decided that releasing the water into Pacific is the “most realistic” option and “unavoidable in order to achieve Fukushima’s recovery”.
The Fukushima Meltdown:
A magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami hit the Fukushima nuclear plant, causing havoc and radiation leaks in the surrounding areas. The disaster knocked out off- and on- site power supplies on March 11, 2011. The contaminated debris, water used to cool down the plant and groundwater still rests.
The Ever Increasing Recovery Costs
The complete clean up of the site along with dismantling the nuclear power plant would take about three to four generations, which is considered an underestimate. The recovery is coming at a hefty price tag, with the storage costs of radioactive water in tanks estimated to be 100 billion yen ($912.66 million). The Japan Centre for Economic Research, said the cost of Fukushima would mount up to $660 billion dollars.
The contaminated water is rising at the site by 140 tonnes per day. Japan argues that the space at site is expected to run out by next autumn. Therefore, the “most realistic” option would be to treat and dilute the water before pumping for two years, and then slowly release the water in Pacific. The entire procedure is expected to take decades.
The cost of decommissioning Fukushima, to be borne by TEPCO, will likely quadruple from the earlier estimate to eight trillion yen while decommissioning and compensation costs will also rise by trillions of yen, NHK said.
The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power [Tepco], says that tritium, a radioactive material that is not harmful in small amounts, cannot be removed from the water, but can be reduced to levels allowed for release.
The International Atomic Energy Agency supports the decision and The IAEA has also pointed out that nuclear plants around the world use a similar process to dispose of wastewater.
Stand of Neighboring Countries - This move has attracted sharp opposition from Japan’s neighboring countries like South Korea, China and Russia. They consider this move as irresponsible and in total disregard of the safety of marine life as well as human lives.
However, the US has backed the decision and appreciated the transparency of Japan and believes that the approach appears in line with globally accepted nuclear safety standards.
Stand of Fish Industry and Activists - The Fish Industry in Japan has been fighting against the movement for a decade as it directly threatens their livelihood. While the climate activists strongly condemn the move.
“The Japanese government has once again failed the people of Fukushima,” said Kazue Suzuki, the group’s climate and energy campaigner.
Do you think Japan should wait until a technology is developed that can define the complete treatment of radioactive materials or move ahead with the dumping? Share your thoughts.
Source: Guardian, Scientific American