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NRA approval for Fukushima Daiichi radioactive pollution of the Pacific Ocean – no justification, no scientific basis and illegal – Greenpeace condemns decision

Greenpeace Japan
2022-07-22

Tokyo, Japan – The final approval by Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holding (TEPCO) plans to discharge radioactive waste water into the Pacific Ocean has no justification, is based on incomplete and limited data and flawed analysis and violates international law, according to Greenpeace East Asia.

Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist from Greenpeace East Asia, said: 

“The decision by Japan’s regulator to deliberately pollute the Pacific Ocean with radioactive waste water is as bad as it sounds. The NRA approval of the TEPCO contaminated water discharge plan is scientifically and technically flawed. It is a decision intended to support the false narrative that decommissioning the destroyed reactors at Fukushima Daiichi is making real progress. In reality the contaminated water plan is a symptom of the wider crisis that the current decommissioning plan is doomed. The discharges into the Pacific will not solve any problems but create many more. The NRA knows that a fundamental reassessment of the decommissioning plan is inevitable, and that will also mean choosing the least environmentally damaging option which is long term storage and processing.”

“The NRA has failed to assess many important issues that are fundamental to any environmental assessment. Further, it disregards the human rights of those most impacted by the 2011 disaster – the citizens of Fukushima prefecture, including fishing communities, as well as neighboring prefectures. It ignores the wider environmental marine impact and the rights of the peoples of the Asia Pacific region who are opposed to the deliberate pollution of the Pacific with radioactive waste,” said Burnie. 

Japan is legally required under the UN Convention for the Law of the Sea to conduct a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). No such assessment has been made or is planned either by Japan’s regulator or the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). There are many legal issues that the NRA has just completely failed to consider.

The opposition to radioactive discharges continues to grow, including the efforts by the 18 nations of the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) to challenge the false scientific rationale for the radioactive pollution plans.

Greenpeace analysis on the Fukushima water crisis includes submissions to the NRA, IAEA, as well as two reports on the technical issues and problems with the management of contaminated water at the site and discharge plans.

ENDS

Notes: 

See “TEPCO WATER CRISIS”, Greenpeace Germany, January 2019

And, “Stemming the tide 2020: The reality of the Fukushima radioactive water crisis”, Greenpeace East Asia, October 2020 

July 22, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Statement: Protest the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Approval of TEPCO’s Plan for the Oceanic Discharge of Contaminated Water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

July 22, 2022
International Environmental NGO FoE Japan
Today, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) approved an application for modification of the implementation plan for the installation of an offshore discharge facility for treated contaminated water from the TEPCO-Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. We believe that the following points should be taken into consideration: 1) radioactive materials should be centrally controlled and should not be released into the environment, 2) effective alternatives such as mortar solidification have been proposed, 3) there are strong objections from fishermen and citizens, and 4) there are many problems in the consensus building process as no public hearing or explanation meetings have been held since the decision on the ocean discharge policy. The company has long opposed the discharge of treated contaminated water into the ocean for a number of reasons.

The approval is problematic mainly in the following respects. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not fulfilling its role as a regulatory agency.

1. It is unclear what and how much will be released

Currently, approximately 1.26 million m3 (as of March 2022) of treated contaminated water is stored in tanks. In addition to tritium, strontium-90 and iodine-129 remain in this water, and nearly 70% of this water exceeds the sum of the notified concentration ratio of 1 (exceeding the standard). The total amount of these radioactive materials is not indicated. TEPCO has measured 64 radioactive materials (62 nuclides targeted for ALPS removal, tritium, and carbon-14) only for three tank groups, but not for many other tank groups at this stage. TEPCO has stated that the water exceeding the standards will be treated sequentially and measured before being discharged. However, the total amount will not be known until the discharge is completed, which is expected to take more than 30 years.
Also, tritium has been shown to be present in the tanks at 780 trillion becquerels (as of May 2021), but there is still a large amount of tritium in the debris and in the buildings. The total amount of tritium released is unknown because the amount of contaminated water will continue to increase as long as the inflow of groundwater is not stopped.
The review was conducted without providing crucial data on what and how much will be discharged.

2. Verification of radioactive materials other than the 64 nuclides and selection of nuclides to be measured before release were postponed.

TEPCO had identified 64 nuclides (62 nuclides to be removed from the ALPS, tritium, and carbon-14) as those to be monitored, but the Nuclear Regulation Authority had requested an explanation of the basis for the absence of residuals of other nuclides. In the end, however, TEPCO’s explanation remained the same and no new verification was conducted. TEPCO has explained that it will verify this point in the future and, based on this verification, will also indicate the radioactive materials to be measured prior to the release. In other words, the Regulatory Commission has approved the plan before TEPCO has even begun to specify the “verification” that it will conduct and the radioactive materials that will be measured prior to the release of radioactive materials.

The measurements of radionuclides and their concentrations in the three tank groups that TEPCO now indicates as source terms in its radiation impact assessment were not measured after the tanks were agitated. In other words, it should be noted that there is a possibility that they may have failed to capture materials that have settled at the bottom of the tanks.

3. No indication that ocean discharge is “for risk reduction and optimization”

As a result of the review, the Regulatory Commission stated that “future risk reduction and optimization of the specific nuclear facilities as a whole are being pursued.
However, risk reduction and optimization should not be achieved only within the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant site, but should be evaluated including the marine environment.
In addition, other alternatives must be considered in order to demonstrate that “ocean discharge is the way to reduce and optimize the overall risk.
TEPCO has not adequately considered the storage in large, robust tanks and the mortar solidification disposal proposal proposed by the Citizens Commission on Atomic Energy and other groups.
Although TEPCO cites the risk of leakage in the large tank proposal, large tanks have a long track record in oil storage, and sufficient countermeasures have already been established technically, including the installation of dikes to prevent leakage. Rather, the current storage in tanks is vulnerable, and the risk of leakage is high considering the planned offshore release period of more than 30 years. Regarding the mortar solidification disposal proposal, the proposer points out that water evaporates due to the heat of hydration, which can also be addressed.
It is inappropriate to conduct a review based solely on TEPCO’s views without obtaining the opinions of the proponents of these alternative proposals.

4. Priority should be given to drastic water sealing measures

The major source of contaminated water is the inflow of groundwater into the buildings. The frozen soil wall, which was constructed at great expense, has not been able to sufficiently stop the inflow of groundwater and is only a temporary facility. It has also been pointed out that it has not reached the bottom of the geological stratum, which allows water to pass through easily. Geological experts have proposed the construction of a wide-area impervious wall using existing technology, and TEPCO and the government should seriously consider these proposals and give priority to drastic measures to stop the inflow of water.
https://foejapan.org/issue/20220722/8675/?fbclid=IwAR2czi0QX4uA89blKdKWxdQgSJqHQEDNQsRniPBazKVunyR_ECEiEKigzng

July 22, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO Approves Plan to Discharge Treated Water into Ocean, Focuses on Local Consent to Begin Construction

TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

July 22, 2022
The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) held an extraordinary meeting on July 22 and approved a plan for the offshore discharge of treated water from TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (Okuma and Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture), finding no safety issues. TEPCO plans to begin full-scale construction of the discharge facilities after obtaining the consent of local authorities. TEPCO aims to begin discharging the water in the spring of next year.

Flow of discharging treated water from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

 TEPCO applied for the review in December 2021. According to the plan, the concentration of tritium, a radioactive substance, in the treated water will be diluted with a large amount of seawater so that it is less than 1/40th of the national standard, and discharged about 1 km offshore through a newly constructed undersea tunnel.

 Protesters in front of the Nuclear Regulation Authority protest TEPCO’s plan to discharge treated water into the ocean at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Roppongi, Tokyo, on the afternoon of July 22.

There is strong opposition to the discharge of treated water into the ocean, mainly from the fishing industry, which is concerned about harmful rumors.
https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/191227?rct=national&fbclid=IwAR0s4gKwWiMVmlLjToo0VuL0vGPtINMOVFCmrO8hYvCHwUpQc6lQly8kgQc

July 22, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s nuclear regulator to okay release of treated water from Fukushima plant

April 15, 2022

Japan’s nuclear regulator has largely approved a plan to release treated water from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the ocean.

The plant suffered triple meltdowns in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster. Water is used to cool molten nuclear fuel. It mixes with rain and groundwater that flows into damaged reactor buildings.

The water is treated to remove most of the radioactive materials, but still contains radioactive tritium.

The Japanese government plans to dilute treated water that continues to accumulate at the plant to levels below national regulations and start releasing it from around spring 2023.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority has been inspecting the plan drawn up by plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company.

In 13 meetings since December, the NRA discussed the safety of the new facility to be built for the water release and the maximum concentration of radioactive tritium when it is released. It also considered how to respond in natural disasters and other emergencies, and the effect of radiation exposure on the surrounding environment and people.

At Friday’s meeting, an official of the NRA secretariat said there are no issues left that have not been discussed enough.

The NRA plans to put together a draft inspection document as early as next month that effectively indicates the plan’s approval.

TEPCO plans to start construction on a facility for diluting treated water and an undersea tunnel once the NRA approves the plan and the utility obtains consent from Fukushima Prefecture and local communities. TEPCO aims to complete the construction work by mid-April next year.

TEPCO has yet to convince and gain understanding from local fishers who are concerned about reputational damage from the release of treated water into the sea.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20220415_32/?fbclid=IwAR3ajMdelxdu7SDeo1SZK9SjghjHgZC5NttNEUUZtmNa-Rb0zwhcwcXyFTE

April 17, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment