Large quantities of water continue to accumulate in the broken nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan, which was damaged in the tsunami in 2011. This is the water that was used to cool the plant, rain and groundwater that seeps.
The discharges are still several years away and the government assures the water will be purified and diluted. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said getting rid of the water is an imperative task. The operator, Tepco, reports that storage facilities are running out.
The United Nations Atomic Energy Agency has given the green light and compared emissions measures issued at other nuclear power plants. Almost all nuclear reactors – including Swedish ones – are cooled with water and then pumped into the sea.
“You must think again.”
But South Korea and China have expressed concern. China describes the plan as “totally irresponsible”.
– They really have to think again. This will create a lot of anxiety in Japan and the region, says Tillman Rove, senior lecturer in infectious diseases at the University of Melbourne, to TT.
According to Rove, a co-founder of Ican Australia, many are stressing the concern. This summer, a large number of UN human rights experts called on Japan to postpone the resolution until after the pandemic.
As with many other decisions about the Fukushima disaster, it appears to be a matter of reducing costs, rather than prioritizing public health, says Ruff.
Raff sees several problems that make Fukushima water different from “normal” nuclear waste water.
Since the water has been in close contact with the nuclear fuel itself, there are several dozen radioisotopes there.
It disappears over time
These include isotopes of tritium hydrogen, which has a half-life of twelve years.
Because it is an isotope of hydrogen, it becomes part of the water molecules, so it is difficult to get rid of it. The levels are far from normal compared to a functioning nuclear reactor. The levels here correspond to 600 years of normal production.
The relatively short half-life, when hazardous materials are dismantled, means that a few decades of storage is sufficient to sharply reduce the risk.
Rove believes several decades of storage would be a highly effective and uncontroversial method.
The two isotopes he is mainly concerned about are strontium and cesium, and neither of them appears to have been removed by the Alps treatment system high enough.
– 70 percent of the water that passed through the purified system lacks a limit value or more for the radioactive material. Some of them don’t miss them a little. Some levels of strontium are 20,000 times higher.
Hunters are worried
Aside from the actual risk, it is also a matter of reputation. The local fishing industry was hit hard by the disaster in 2011. And now they have been able to build consumer confidence again.
They said they would not release the water into the sea without the support of the fishermen. We cannot support a measure that breaks that promise, says Kanji Tachia, who leads a local fisheries organization, to the NHK.
Among other things, Rove explains, strontium and cesium are concentrated when it moves down the food chain.
So the levels in the fish can be 15,000 times higher than in the water in which they swim.
According to the government, work is expected to start pumping water within two years at the earliest, and then take decades.
But Rove sees several alternatives to releasing water. On the one hand, you can continue to isolate the reactor to prevent water from escaping into it, and on the other hand, you can reuse the water for cooling.
They have already succeeded in reducing the water supply. It used to be 400-500 new tons per day, and now it’s down to 170 tons per day, he says.
The cost of this disaster may approach a trillion dollars (the equivalent of thousands of billions of kronor). To spend an extra few billion dollars storing water on the ground, encapsulating the reactor and reducing the fresh flow, I think it would be the best option.
The tsunami of March 11, 2011 caused three collapses at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Residents were evacuated within a 20-kilometer radius of the nuclear power plant.
Fukushima’s economy, and especially agriculture, was hit hard by the disaster. Consumer confidence in products from the region has fallen sharply, despite authorities’ promises that all food items that reach store shelves have been controlled and classified as safe to enhance trust.Some vegetables have also been provided with so-called special qr codes, which customers can scan. To find out the current radiation levels in the farms that produce them.
The Fukushima tourism industry has also been hit hard, as the number of tourists has decreased significantly in the area over the ten years.