The storage tanks installed by Tepco at the Fukushima plant will reach their limit in 2022: according to Japan’s Minister of the Environment, the only solution is to dump some of the contaminated water directly into the Pacific Ocean.
Currently, Fukushima’s tanks contain 1 million cubic meters of contaminated water.
The Japanese government is considering the possibility of dumping directly into the Pacific Ocean part of the contaminated water used to cool the damaged reactors of the Fukushima power plant: confirmation came from the Japanese Minister of the Environment, Yoshiaki Harada, during a meeting with the media Communication.
In the last 8 years, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), the company that manages the Fukushima reactor complex, has installed almost 1,000 tanks to hold the 200 cubic meters of water that is needed daily to cool the radioactive fuel rods. In early June 2019, Tepco announced that by mid-2022 it would run out of space to store contaminated water, forcing the Japanese government to evaluate possible disposal alternatives (such as underground storage or the construction of other tanks, which were ruled out due to the high risks associated with exposure to frequent seismic phenomena typical of Japan).
Currently, the tanks contain around 1 million cubic meters of contaminated water, while the maximum capacity of the site, considering the possible construction of some new tanks, could not exceed 1.37 million cubic meters.
Once in contact with radioactive fuel rods, the water, taken directly from the sea, is loaded with isotopes dangerous for the environment and human health (if present in high concentrations) such as tritium, ruthenium, strontium, cesium and iodine. After proper treatment, the contaminated water must contain only tritium and in percentages not dangerous for the environment, however, several analyzes have found the presence of other radioactive isotopes and high levels of iodine and ruthenium even after the first filtration processes. at the Fukushima plants.
The statements of the Minister of the Environment have been partially denied by the spokesman of the Japanese Government, Yoshihide Suga, who has underlined the “strictly personal” nature of the opinions expressed by Harada.
The Japanese government has commissioned a panel of experts to evaluate all available options in search of a resolution to the crisis that does not further compromise the safety of the environment and people.
In August, the Seoul government convened a Japanese ambassador to seek clarification on plans to remove contaminated water at the Fukushima power plant.
Tepco has not yet formalized its position on the matter; However, the long duration of the operations to remove the radioactive rods (the conclusion of which is expected in 2023) will necessarily force the energy company to face yet another part of a crisis that appears without end.