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Fukushima fishermen fight release of tainted water as tritium standoff continues

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On Feb. 25, against a clear sky, fishing boats bearing colorful banners used to signal a rich haul returned to their home port of Ukedo in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture. Cheers erupted as the boats, which had taken refuge in Minamisoma in the wake of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the nuclear crisis, made their way home for the first time in six years.

The Soma-Futaba fishing cooperative will soon resume fishing for konago (young lancefish), after the heads of fishing co-ops in the prefecture approved the start of experimental fishing operations 10 to 20 km from the meltdown-hit Fukushima No. 1 power plant, run by Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc.

Despite the steady recovery moves, however, local fishermen are not optimistic because their industry still faces “concern” that radioactive fish could tarnish their reputation.

Fukushima No. 1 currently has 950,000 tons of radioactive water in storage that has been desalinated and filtered to remove some of the radioactive elements, but the volume is increasing at a pace of 150,000 tons a year.

Of the 950,000 tons, 750,000 were further treated with the Advanced Liquid Processing System, to remove most of the remaining isotopes. But even ALPS cannot remove tritium, and this has the fishing industry concerned that water tainted with tritium could ultimately be released into the ocean.

The debate over what to do about the tainted water has turned into a standoff. The central government set up a committee in September to discuss disposal and studied five options, including ocean release, underground burial and air release. But the committee could not agree on any of them because all had the potential to damage the reputation of Fukushima’s seafood.

Hiroshige Seko, head of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has jurisdiction over the issue but appears reluctant to bring the debate to a rapid conclusion.

We have not decided on the schedule, including when to conclude (the debate),” he said in a recent interview with the Fukushima Minpo.

Tritium is a common byproduct of normal nuclear power plant operations. Its release into the ocean is permitted worldwide as long as the concentration doesn’t exceed certain levels. In Japan, the legal threshold for tritium release is 60,000 becquerels per 1 liter.

Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, has said “there is no solution than ocean release” for the tritium generated at Fukushima No. 1, noting that if the concentration is within legal limits, the government should go ahead with the release. Officials at related international institutions have expressed similar views.

But the prefectural association of fishing cooperatives remains opposed, worried that an ocean release could further damage the image of Fukushima’s fish and seafood.

A fisherman from Onahama in the city of Iwaki said, “The move could lead to a loss of trust in the prefecture’s seafood, which the fishermen have worked hard to build.”

On the other hand, if the disposal debate goes unresolved, the amount of tainted water at Fukushima No. 1 will continue to rise and delay the decommissioning of the plant.

Tepco has said it “will decide (on the fate of the water) in a responsible manner by watching the government debate and weighing the opinions of local residents.”

The fishery industry is watching how the central government balances the two jobs of revitalizing the industry and handling tritium-tainted water — and how it can thoroughly explain the decision in ways people both in Japan and abroad can understand, without leaving it entirely up to Tepco.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/19/national/fukushima-fishermen-fight-release-tainted-water-tritium-standoff-continues/#.WM7nfKKmnIU

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March 21, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017, Fukushima continuing | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Agreement reached on decontaminated water disposal

Fishers in Japan’s northeastern prefecture of Fukushima have formally allowed the release of decontaminated groundwater from around buildings of nuclear reactors into the sea.

The release is aimed at reducing production of heavily contaminated water in the basements of the buildings at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Groundwater flowing into the buildings is producing 300 tons of highly radioactive water daily, resulting in a huge number of storage tanks at the plant.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, and the government have been asking the fishers to allow the release to keep the water from flowing into the buildings and becoming heavily tainted.

TEPCO plans to use 41 wells already dug around the buildings to pump up the water and lower the levels of radioactive substances to between one-one-thousandth and one-ten-thousandth of their original amounts before releasing it.

The operator, the government and an independent institution plan to check so that only water below allowed levels is discharged.

On Tuesday, the local federation of fisheries cooperatives approved the plan on condition that the release rules are strictly followed and that compensation is paid for any damage due to harmful rumors.

Federation chairman Tetsu Nozaki said the approval was decided unanimously, but that some members were dissatisfied. He added that the plan is needed for steadily decommissioning the plant, and that he wants TEPCO and the government to keep their word.

The firm’s Fukushima headquarters chief Yoshiyuki Ishizaki said the plan is a big step forward in the decommissioning process as well as tackling the problem of contaminated water. He said fishermen told him that the plan could lead to rebuilding of Fukushima’s fishing industry, and that he will keep their remarks in mind.

TEPCO plans to start releasing the water soon.

Source: NHK 

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150825_33.html

 

Fishermen OK TEPCO’s plan to dump Fukushima plant water into sea

FUKUSHIMA, Japan (Kyodo) — Fishermen in Fukushima Prefecture approved on Tuesday a plan by Tokyo Electric Power Co. to pump up contaminated groundwater continuously flowing into the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station and dump it into the ocean after removing almost all radioactive materials from it.

The plan is one of TEPCO’s key measures aimed at curbing the amount of toxic water buildup at the complex. Local fishermen had long opposed the plan amid concern over pollution of the ocean and marine products.

“I don’t know if it’s acceptable for all fishery operators, but stable work of decommissioning (of the Fukushima plant) is necessary for the revival of Fukushima’s fishery industry,” Tetsu Nozaki, chairman of the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations, told reporters after a board meeting.

He also called on TEPCO to make sure it will only discharge water which does not contain radioactive materials exceeding the legally allowable limit.

The amount of toxic water is piling up every day, as untainted groundwater is seeping into the reactor buildings and mixing with radioactive water generated in the process of cooling the reactors that suffered meltdowns in the nuclear crisis triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

By pumping up water through drainage wells and dumping it into the ocean after treatment, TEPCO said it will be able to halve some 300 tons of contaminated water being generated each day.

In exchange for approving the plan, the Fukushima fisherman’s association demanded on Aug. 11 that the government and TEPCO continue paying compensation for the fishermen as long as the nuclear plant causes damage to their business, among other requirements.

On Tuesday, the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations also gave the green light for the release of treated water into the sea.

TEPCO has been struggling to resolve the problem of toxic water buildup at the plant for more than four years after the nuclear crisis, with radiation leakages into the environment still occurring regularly at the complex.

The company is also behind schedule on a project to build a huge underground ice wall, another key measure to prevent radioactive water from further increasing at the site.

Source: Mainichi

http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150825p2g00m0dm075000c.html

August 26, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Fishermen OK Tepco’s plan to dump Fukushima plant water into sea

FUKUSHIMA – Fishermen in Fukushima Prefecture on Tuesday approved a plan by Tokyo Electric Power Co. to take contaminated groundwater continuously flowing into the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and dump it into the ocean after removing almost all radioactive materials from it.

The plan is one of Tepco’s key measures aimed at curbing the amount of toxic water buildup at the complex. Local fishermen had long opposed the plan amid concern it would pollute the ocean and contaminate marine life.

“I don’t know if it’s acceptable for all fishery operators, but stable work of decommissioning (of the Fukushima plant) is necessary for the revival of Fukushima’s fishery industry,” Tetsu Nozaki, chairman of the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations, told reporters after a board meeting.

He also called on Tepco to ensure it will only discharge water which does not contain radioactive materials exceeding the legally allowed limit.

The amount of toxic water is piling up every day. Tainted groundwater is seeping into the reactor buildings and mixing with radioactive water generated through cooling the reactors that suffered meltdowns following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

By pumping up water through drainage wells and dumping it into the ocean after treatment, Tepco said it will be able to halve some 300 tons of contaminated water being generated each day.

In exchange for approving the plan, the Fukushima fisherman’s association on Aug. 11 demanded among other things that the government and Tepco continue paying the fishermen compensation for as long as the nuclear plant damages their business.

On Tuesday, the National Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations also gave the green light to releasing the treated water into the sea.

Tepco has been struggling to resolve the problem of toxic water buildup at the plant since 2011, with radiation leakages into the environment still occurring regularly at the Fukushima complex.

The company is also behind schedule on a project to build a huge underground ice wall, another key measure to prevent radioactive water from further increasing at the site.

Source: Japan Times

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/08/25/national/fishermen-ok-tepcos-plan-dump-fukushima-plant-water-sea/#.VdyK0ZeFSM9

August 25, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment