Despite protests from the local fishing population, work has begun on the infrastructure required for the scheduled release of cleaned radioactive effluent into the sea from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant next year.
Before the wastewater’s anticipated release next year, plant workers began building a pipeline to convey it from hillside storage tanks to a seaside facility, according to the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings. Later on Thursday, work was also supposed to start on digging an underwater tunnel. The Fukushima Daiichi reactor started construction after the Nuclear Regulation Authority formally approved a thorough wastewater discharge plan that TEPCO presented in December last month.
The release of the wastewater was announced by the government as an essential step for the continuing decommissioning of the plant last year. The Fukushima Daiichi plant’s cooling systems were wrecked by a significant earthquake and tsunami in 2011, leading to triple meltdowns and the release of significant radioactivity. The three damaged and extremely radioactive reactor cores were cooled with water that was collected and kept in tanks, but the water has since seeped into the reactor buildings’ basements. The water will be further treated to levels well below guidelines for release, according to TEPCO and government authorities, and there won’t be much of an impact on the environment or people’s health. Of more than 60 isotopes selected for treatment, all but one — tritium — will be reduced to meet safety standards, they say. According to scientists, a release is premature because it is yet unknown how long-term, low-dose exposure to not only tritium but also other isotopes may affect the environment and people.