The operator of Japan’s paralyzed nuclear plant in Fukushima has decided to release radioactive tritium into the Pacific Ocean.
The decision has angered local fishermen, who say they were not consulted on the decision.
Takashi Kawamura, chairman of Tokyo Electro Power Co., said the plan has been settled, but that the utility is still waiting for the final word from Japan’s nuclear regulation authority, Japanese newspaper Tokyo Shimbun reported Friday.
About 770,000 tons of radioactive water is stored in 580 tanks in Fukushima.
Technology has so far been unable to remove tritium from the water, and TEPCO’s solution is to pour the radioactive liquid into the ocean, where, according to the utility’s officials, it would be quickly diluted, The Telegraph reported Friday.
Aileen Mioko-Smith, an anti-nuclear activist, told The Telegraph the “authorities should have been able to devise a way to remove the tritium instead of simply announcing that they are going to dump it into the ocean.”
“They say that it will be safe because the ocean is large so it will be diluted, but that sets a precedent that can be copied, essentially permitting anyone to dump nuclear waste into our seas,” she added.
TEPCO insists tritium poses few health hazards, but Japanese fishermen are outraged because of the announcement.
Kanji Tachiya, a fishing cooperative chief, told Kyodo News the release of radioactive water will “create a new wave of unfounded rumors” that will affect business.
Small amounts of radiation from Fukushima reached the West Coast of the United States in December 2016.
By Elizabeth Shim