A full decade after the Fukushima disaster, The Japan Times reports Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga says the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is running out of storage space for the contaminated water and must begin flushing it into the ocean.
According to Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., who run the plant, more than 1.2 million tons of treated water are being held in the facility’s storage. The company estimates storage capacity will run out in fall of 2022.
Suga says that the government has spent a decade debating what to do with the waste buildup. The plan so far has been to dilute the waste, reducing its radioactivity as much as possible before eventually dumping it out to sea. If the government greenlights this procedure, the contaminated groundwater will be diluted to 2.5 percent of allowed concentration per national standards and slowly released into the ocean over a period of 30 years.
According to Japanese officials, that concentration of radioactivity poses no danger to the people who live and work in the region. However, one of the biggest issues to date has been with framing the solution as a safe plan for an unavoidable task, and it remains to be seen whether or not the Japanese people trust the proposal.
The proposed solution to release waste into the ocean has seen plenty of pushback, not least from fishers who fear that buyers will no longer be interested in fish caught in Japanese waters. Trade minister Hiroshi Kajiyama believes the government can no longer put off deciding what to do with the treated water.
According to Japan, 15 countries and regions have ongoing restrictions on imports from Fukushima put into place after the 2011 disaster.
The Japan Times reports that the Prime Minister is expected to release a formal statement on his decision before this coming Tuesday.