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Tepco denies radioactive water discharge claims

“For a radionuclide such as Iodine-129, this could be 160 million years.”

19 December 2022

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) has denied allegations it plans to discharge radioactive wastewater from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean.

An emerging collective of community members, academics, legal experts, non-governmental organisations and activists from across the Pacific, who met through the Nuclear Connections Across Oceania Conference in Dunedin last month, condemned Tepco last week and called on the company to halt its discharge plans.

Three reactors at the Fukushima facility had meltdowns following a major earthquake on March 11, 2011, and work to clean up the radioactive contamination is continuing.

University of Otago Centre for Sustainability research fellow Dr Karly Burch said many people might be surprised to hear the Japanese government had approved Tepco’s plan to discharge more than 1.3million tonnes of radioactive wastewater into the Pacific Ocean for about 30 years, starting next year.

However, Tepco’s corporate communications office contacted the Otago Daily Times to explain the discharged water would be treated using multiple types of equipment, such as the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) which would remove multi-nuclides, and then be diluted so that it would meet the Japanese Government’s regulatory standards.

A company spokesman said in addition to complying with legally-based Government regulations, the company would also ensure the water was “safe” and conformed to international law and practices.

“In particular, the water to be discharged will be purified and diluted in two stages.

“During the first stage the water will be purified with ALPS until the concentration of radioactive substances, excluding tritium, falls below regulatory standards for discharge into the environment.

“Water with the sum of ratios of the concentration of each radionuclide other than tritium to the regulatory concentration of each, is less than one.

“And, prior to dilution, the concentration of radioactive substances in ALPS treated water will be measured/assessed and the results confirmed by a third-party.

“During the second stage, we will dilute tritium with a large volume of seawater (more than 100 times), thereby reducing its concentration to less than 1500Bq/l, which is 1/40 of Government regulations for discharge into the environment, as well as approximately 1/7 of the World Health Organisation’s drinking water quality guidelines (10,000 Bq/l).”

The Nuclear Connections Across Oceania Conference collective was not convinced and last week, they also called for the New Zealand Government to “stay true to its dedication to a nuclear-free Pacific” by taking a case to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea against Japan’s plans.

Dr Burch said predictive models showed radioactive particles released could spread to the northern Pacific.

“To ensure they do not cause biological or ecological harm, these uranium-derived radionuclide need to be stored securely for the amount of time it takes for them to decay to a more stable state.

“For a radionuclide such as Iodine-129, this could be 160 million years.”


January 3, 2023 - Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , ,

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