The plan to release treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant into the sea will likely not resolve the chronic problem of contaminated water accumulating there, Asahi Shimbun calculations show. The maximum rate of water discharge allowed under the government’s basic plan would be less than the inflow of rainwater and groundwater at the nuclear power plant, meaning that additional water storage tanks would inevitably be needed at the site. The government on April 13 approved the basic plan to release more than 1 million tons of treated water into the sea. The government and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. hope to start discharging the water two years from now. Existing storage tanks at the site are expected to reach full capacity around the same time. The Asahi Shimbun studied this plan based on documents and materials published by the government and TEPCO.
Asahi Shimbun 1st May 2021 read more »
Awadhesh Jha, Professor of Genetic Toxicology and Ecotoxicology, University of Plymouth: Since the tsunami hit in 2011, authorities have used more than a million tonnes of water to try and cool the plant’s disabled reactors, which are still hot thanks to the long-term release of energy from the nuclear power source. All that radioactive water – which is more contaminated than standard waste water – has to go somewhere. The decision to release it into the oceans is – some would argue – the most pragmatic long-term solution. The process of filtering and diluting the huge amounts of water to meet safety standards will take a few years to complete. Then, we’d usually expect the water to be released gradually in small volumes through coastal pipelines. That way, any potential effects of releasing the radioactive waste will be minimised. However, the fact is that we don’t know exactly what those effects will be on marine – or human – life, given the sheer volume of water set to be released from the Fukushima plant. Our own research has shown that a number of marine species could have their DNA damaged through extended exposure to radionuclides in seawater. It’s important to note that our conclusions are mostly drawn from studies in the lab, rather than in the real world; when a nuclear accident takes place, human safety takes priority and biological assessment often takes place decades after the original event. That being said, our experiments with both marine and freshwater mussels found that when radionuclides are present in seawater alongside commonly-occurring metals like copper, the DNA damage caused by radionuclides to the mussels was increased. Much, much more research is needed to understand the effects of exposure to different types of radionuclides on different species. The most urgent priority is to set internationally accepted regulations for radiation exposure levels across different species. After all, we are what we eat: our health as a global community depends on the health of the environment, and a contaminated ocean knows no geographical or political borders.
The Conversation 30th April 2021 read more »