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Fukushima residents feel left out in TEPCO’s water plan

Four pillars stick out of the sea 1 kilometer offshore from Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on Jan. 24. Treated radioactive water will be released from outlets at the bottom of these pillars through an undersea tunnel.

February 26, 2023

As Tokyo Electric Power Co. moves closer to discharging tons of stored water from its stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, local opposition has intensified and cries of betrayal are being heard.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority in July 2022 concluded that “there are no safety issues” with the water being released into the sea. The water will be treated to eliminate most of the radioactive substances and diluted to government safety standards.

TEPCO has been steadily moving ahead with the water-discharge plans since the NRA’s assessment.

Locals now feel that their opinions do not matter anymore, even though the water-discharge plan could negatively affect their livelihoods for decades to come.


A TEPCO employee on the shore pointed out toward the water and said: “Can you see them?”

Four pillars were sticking out from the sea surface about 1 kilometer offshore of the Fukushima plant.

The employee explained that water discharge outlets are located at the bottoms of these pillars.

Workers in January were digging the final 200 meters of an undersea tunnel that will be connected to the outlets. The drilling work is scheduled to finish this spring.

The water stored at the plant can then be discharged from the tunnel in spring or summer.

TEPCO says it has no other choice to deal with the water-storage problem at the plant.

The tsunami generated by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake knocked out the cooling system for the plant, leading to a triple meltdown.

Water used to cool down the nuclear fuel in the reactor buildings become contaminated with radioactive materials. Compounding the problem was the continuous flow of groundwater and rain into the damaged reactor buildings. This contaminated water also had to be stored for treatment.

After most of the radioactive materials were removed, the water has been stored in tanks on the compound.

Around 1.32 million tons of water is now stored at the plant, more than enough to fill the Tokyo Dome, according to TEPCO.

About 1,000 storage tanks line the compound. The utility said 96 percent of their capacity is already filled, and they will all be full by autumn.


In April 2021, the administration of then-Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga decided to discharge the treated water into the sea.

The government and TEPCO reached an agreement with the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations in 2015 that “the treated water will not be released without the understanding of people involved.”

The fishermen see TEPCO’s unceasing progress on the plan as backing out of that promise.

Tetsu Nozaki, head of the associations, and local fishermen had a meeting with economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, on Feb. 25.

“(The government) made the promise (in 2015). Now you are taking an opposite stance,” Nozaki said to Nishimura.

“We have no choice but to repeatedly and thoroughly explain the plan,” Nishimura said.

Toshimitsu Konno, 64, head of the Soma Futaba fishery cooperative association in the prefecture, said, “What makes the government and TEPCO think that we have agreed?”

The group is the largest in Fukushima Prefecture, with 846 members.

They oppose the water release, saying it may spark harmful rumors about local marine products.

However, Konno has mixed feelings, especially when he thinks about the next generation of fishermen.

About 100 people joined the local fisheries industry after the 2011 nuclear accident.

Konno believes that only the complete decommissioning of the plant will end the reputation damage once and for all.

The government and TEPCO have said the water release is crucial for the decommissioning process.

“That’s why we cannot simply oppose the plan,” Konno said.

TEPCO expects to discharge up to 500 tons of treated water per day. At that rate, it will take at least 30 years to empty all of the tanks.

“We must live with the situation for 30 or 40 years until the plant is decommissioned. No matter what we do, there will always be problems,” Konno said.

He is struggling over what needs to be done now to proceed with the decommissioning and create a future for the fishing industry.

“We have our own distress as residents,” Konno said.


TEPCO has been unable prevent groundwater and rainwater from becoming contaminated by the damaged reactors.

The utility tried to block the flow of groundwater by creating a 1.5-km-long frozen soil wall around the No. 1 to No. 4 reactor buildings at the plant.

Workers set up cooling pipes underground carrying a refrigerant of minus 30 degrees. The idea was that the frozen soil would create a barrier to divert the water away from the reactor buildings.

The barrier system cost around 34.5 billion yen ($253 million) to build. It began operation in March 2016.

However, the ice wall has had a series of problems, including underground temperatures exceeding zero degrees in some areas and the refrigerant leaking from the pipes.

TEPCO initially planned to complete its countermeasures against water leaks at reactor buildings and finish operations of the ice wall around March 2021.

The ice wall is still in use, but the water flow to the reactor buildings has continued.

According to TEPCO, the amount of treated water generated per day decreased from 540 tons in 2014 to 130 tons in 2021.

The utility expects the amount to drop to 100 tons by fiscal 2025 and between 50 and 70 tons by fiscal 2028.

“It is difficult to reduce the amount of contaminated water to zero at this point,” a TEPCO official said.

(This article was compiled from reports by Shoko Rikimaru, Hideki Motoyama, Takuro Yamano and Ryo Sasaki.)


March 5, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , | Leave a comment

World Insights: Science should guide Fukushima wastewater release plan, Pacific leaders say

File photo taken on Oct. 12, 2017 shows huge tanks that store contaminated radioactive wastewater in Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan

– Civil society groups in Japan and many international organizations have voiced objections to the Fukushima wastewater release plan, citing a lack of a practical demonstration and its potential threat to society and marine ecology.

– Analysts believe that Japan should not ignore the concerns and livelihoods of Pacific islanders.

SUVA, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) — Pacific leaders on Friday wrapped up the two-day Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Special Leaders’ Retreat in Fiji, where Japan’s Fukushima wastewater release plan was in the limelight.

The PIF rotating chair underlined in a statement that science and data should guide political decisions on Japan’s proposed discharge of treated radioactive wastewater from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea.

The outgoing chair and Fiji’s Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, together with other PIF leaders, believes the decision is not as simple as a domestic issue of Japan, but concerns the South Pacific island countries and beyond.

Given that related data and evidence provided by Japan are far from independent or verifiable, the PIF has called on the country repeatedly to delay the discharge plan.

People rally to protest against the Japanese government’s decision to discharge contaminated radioactive wastewater in Fukushima Prefecture into the sea, in Tokyo, capital of Japan, April 13, 2021.


Civil society groups in Japan and many international organizations have also voiced objections to the plan, citing a lack of a practical demonstration and its potential threat to society and marine ecology.

Over the past years, fishermen in neighboring countries have staged several rallies, calling for immediate stop to the “grave criminal act” of releasing radioactive water into the sea. Within Japan, local civic groups have organized protests outside the government house of Fukushima Prefecture.

Japan’s unilateral push to discharge radioactive wastewater from its crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean is irresponsible and harmful, South Korean green activists have said.

“The Pacific Ocean is not the sea of Japan, but the sea of everybody … Pollutants will flow to neighboring countries in a situation that a lot of radioactive materials have already been released and contaminated (the marine ecosystem),” Ahn Jae-hun, energy and climate change director at the Korea Federation for Environment Movement, told Xinhua.

The Japanese government’s decision to discharge the contaminated water into the sea when there are alternatives such as long-term storage violates the precautionary principle recognized by the international community, Greenpeace Seoul Office has said. Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning network for environment protection.

“We must prevent action that will lead or mislead us toward another major nuclear contamination disaster at the hands of others,” said PIF Secretary General Henry Puna.

Take a look at how Japan proceeded with that.

The Japanese government decided in April 2021 to release more than one million tons of treated wastewater into the Pacific Ocean this spring.

Three months later, Japan greenlit the discharge plan while the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s task force was still conducting the review mission.

Earlier this year, Japan unilaterally announced that it would start discharging the radioactive water in spring or summer, just before the agency’s task force arrives in Japan for review.

A poster to boycott Japanese products is seen in a supermarket to protest against Japan’s decision to dump radioactive wastewater from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean, in Seoul, South Korea, April 14, 2021.


Pacific island countries unanimously oppose Japan’s release plan for multiple reasons, citing ecological fragility, economic dependence on the fisheries industry, and the devastating effects of radioactive pollution caused by Western nuclear testing.

First, Pacific island countries are concerned that the released radioactive substances will spread with ocean currents and tides, risking contaminating fish. As more than half of the world’s tuna comes from the Pacific Ocean, a potentially contaminated environment could hurt the fisheries that those countries rely on.

Second, the Pacific Ocean’s delicate ecology may come under threat. If the wastewater release leads to an ecological disaster, the vulnerable island residents will leave their homes, causing an ecological and survival crisis that will deal a heavy blow to the entire Pacific region.

Last, Western countries have conducted a dazzling array of nuclear tests in the Pacific since the mid-20th century, resulting in shocking radioactive pollution and ecological disasters. These have left painful memories for islanders, who have been sensitive to the wastewater issue.

Analysts believe that Japan should not ignore the concerns and livelihoods of Pacific islanders. Neither should it dump the wastewater into the sea until disputes are settled over the legitimacy of the discharge plan, the reliability of radioactivity data, the effectiveness of purification equipment and the uncertainty of environmental impact, they added.

February 26, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima nuclear plant prepared to release treated waste water amid local opposition

February 21, 2023

Twelve years after the nuclear disaster caused by a massive earthquake and tsunami, workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan are preparing to release treated waste water into the sea despite opposition from locals. The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, said the water had been filtered to remove most of the radioactive elements, adding that the release was “safe and necessary”.

February 26, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , | Leave a comment

Amid fears of contamination, Japan will soon dump treated water from Fukushima Nuclear Plant into the Pacific

31 January 2023

Pacific island nations, neighboring countries in Asia, scientists, and others criticized an international organization’s endorsement of plans to dump tens of thousands of tons of contaminated wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the ocean. The plan to schedule the discharge of approximately 1.3 million tons of water on an ongoing basis for the next three decades has alarmed the Pacific community because of possible adverse impacts on nearby marine ecosystems and their way of life.

Following a January 2023 visit to the Fukushima nuclear facility to receive updates on plans to dispose of the contaminated water, Gustavo Caruso, a Director within the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Department of Nuclear Safety and Security and Chair of the Task Force, voiced support for the plans. As an international association, the IAEA says it promotes the “safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear energy,” which includes the disposal of nuclear waste.

“[Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority] prepared thorough evidence of how they are aligning the regulatory plans related to […] treated water discharge with the IAEA safety standards,” said Caruso in a statement following the visit. According to the IAEA statement, “Before any water discharge begins – scheduled for this year – the IAEA will issue a comprehensive report containing the collected findings and conclusions of the Task Force across all aspects of the review conducted as of that time.”

In March 2011, an earthquake and tsunami resulted in a nuclear disaster in Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. After power was disrupted and emergency generators failed, three nuclear reactors onsite lost cooling capabilities and experienced a core meltdown.

Water used to cool the reactors, along with groundwater below the complex, became contaminated with radioactive materials. This water has been collected, treated, and stored onsite since 2011 in dozens of massive storage tanks that now crowd the nuclear complex.

Since 2021, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has been preparing the infrastructure for the “safe” release of Fukushima’s treated water through a process called the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS). In August 2022, TEPCO announced the installation of facilities that will allow for water discharge after consulting with Japanese authorities and local residents. It vowed to cooperate with various stakeholders in explaining the systematic release of water and its scientific basis:

We will continue to do our utmost to increase the understanding of people of Fukushima and society at large regarding the handling of ALPS treated water as part of the decommissioning work, by focusing on our efforts to disseminate information based on scientific evidence to parties within and outside Japan in an easy-to-understand manner and taking every opportunity to listen to the concerns and opinions of the public and explain our approach and response.

But Henry Puna, the secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), reiterated the regional opposition to Japan’s plan of releasing Fukushima’s treated water into the Pacific Ocean:

Based on our experience with nuclear contamination, continuing with ocean discharge plans at this time is simply inconceivable and we do not have the luxury of time to sit around for four decades in order to ‘figure it out.’

The decision for any ocean release is not and should not only be a domestic matter for Japan, but a global and transnational issue that should give rise to the need to examine the issue in the context of obligations under international law.

I am asking today, what our Pacific people did not have the opportunity to ask decades ago when our region and our ocean was identified as a nuclear test field.

PIF enumerated alternative options such as “safe storage and radioactive decay, bioremediation, and use of treated water to make concrete for special applications.”

During a conference held at New Zealand’s University of Otago in November 2022, participants described Japan’s plan as a manifestation of “nuclear colonial violence”:

TEPCO and the Japanese government’s plan to discharge radioactive wastewater into the Pacific shows direct disregard for the sovereignty and self-determination of Pacific peoples and the ocean their livelihoods depend upon.

We condemn attempts by the Japanese government and TEPCO to trivialise the nature and extent of the damages the radioactive wastewater discharge will cause to the people, ocean life, and places of the Pacific.

Speaking on behalf of Pacific civil society groups, Noelene Nabulivou of DIVA for Equality urged Japanese authorities to consider the perspectives of Pacific communities:

Japan’s internal process of approval for this construction needs to consult the Pacific, as it threatens the livelihood of Pacific peoples and the environment we depend heavily on. This is all happening in the context of massive loss and damage from the climate emergency, that is also not of our making.

The Chinese foreign ministry called Japan’s decision to go ahead with its controversial plan “irresponsible” and “self-serving. Meanwhile, the US National Association of Marine Laboratories cited the “lack of adequate and accurate scientific data supporting Japan’s assertion of safety.” Robert Richmond, a marine biologist at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, noted that “there is a strong consensus internationally that continued use of the ocean for dumping waste is simply not sustainable.”

Local opposition to the contaminated water discharge has been supported by Sato Kazuyoshi, a municipal councilor in Iwaki, a city neighboring the Fukushima nuclear complex. In a Facebook post, Sato said:

On January 13, near the entrance to Onahama Port, Iwaki City, we held a rally, ‘Iwaki Citizens Against the Release of Contaminated Water from Nuclear Power Plants into the Ocean.’ The beginning of this year’s standing. On earlier that day, there were reports that government ministers had confirmed the release (of contaminated water) ‘from spring to summer.’

Since June 2021, we have been holding a this rally on the 13th of every month: ‘Don’t pollute the sea any more!’

At noon, I stood with an illustration banner by Eisaku Ando, a sculptor who moved from Iwaki to Nara, and a placard saying ‘Don’t pour contaminated water into the sea!’ Nearly 20 participants from their respective standpoints said that they would not allow contaminated water to be released into the ocean! and impassioned speeches. A Japanese citizen who had returned from Canada for a visit also joined us, showing the international spread of opposition to the ocean release of contaminated water.

TEPCO is working closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has been releasing regular reports about the safety procedures being done at Fukushima. IAEA assured the public that it will release its comprehensive report before the actual discharge of treated water in about three months’ time.


February 4, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , , , | Leave a comment