Japan Might Dump Radioactive Water from Fukushima Disaster Into the Ocean

Jason Lock

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Updated 41d ago

In today's you couldn't make it up headlines, Japan could be set to dump radioactive water into the sea because they have run out of room to store it.

The water is from the country's damaged Fukushima nuclear plant – but the company responsible for containing it, Tokyo Electric (TepCo), is due to run out of room and are considering options to shift it into the ocean. More than 1,000,000 tonnes of the contaminated water has been collected from the plant, since it was battered by a tsunami back in 2011.

Spot guide: Japan

The water will allegedly be diluted before it's flushed into our big blue but who knows the ongoing implications of that. Fukushima is only a few hundred kms from the Japan 2020 Olympic surfing venue at Shidashita – and it's not clear whether the water will need to be dumped before or after then. What we do know is that storage space will be completely taken up by 2022.

In a news briefing, reported by the Independent, Japan's environment minister Yoskiaki Harada said: “The only option will be to drain it into the sea and dilute it. 

“The whole of the government will discuss this, but I would like to offer my simple opinion."

The Independent report; “Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, in a separate press briefing, described Harada's comments as "his personal opinion".

“Tepco was not in a position to decide what to do but would follow the policy once the government made a decision, a spokesman for the utility said.

“Any green light from the government to dump the waste into the sea would anger neighbours such as South Korea, which summoned a senior Japanese embassy official last month to explain how the Fukushima water would be dealt with.”

Olympic site: Shidashita

Now, nuclear dumping isn't an uncommon thing. Usually the water contains “tritium, an isotope of hydrogen that is hard to separate and is considered to be relatively harmless.”

But Tepco admitted last year that the water in its tanks still has contaminants beside tritium in them. Because of course it does. The environmental impact is as of yet unknown and the extent to which the water is diluted remains a mystery too. It's likely to raise concern with water users all along that coastline, and the spread once it reaches the ocean is not yet clear. More as we get it.