Tokyo, May 18 (EFE).- Japan’s nuclear regulator gave the go-ahead Wednesday for the discharge into the pacific ocean of contaminated and treated water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant, a controversial measure planned for next year.
The National Nuclear Regulatory Agency endorsed the plan Wednesday prepared by the operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power, which had already received the go ahead of the Japanese Executive, although its formal approval is expected in the next months.
The Japanese regulator asked the operator to “do everything possible” to ensure the controlled discharge is carried out without incident, and to guarantee the dismantling process of the plant, which will continue for several decades, progresses as planned, according to an assessment made public Wednesday.
This is the water contaminated with radioactive waste after being used to cool reactors or filtering into nuclear facilities, of which some 1.29 million cubic meters are stored in drums inside atomic facilities damaged by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011 where space runs out.
After analyzing with a scientific panel a series of possible solutions of enormous technical complexity, including methods of evaporation or underground injection, Japanese authorities and the operator opted to dump the water into the sea after decontamination.
The water is treated with a processing system that eliminates most of the radioactive materials considered dangerous, with the exception of tritium, an isotope present in nature, although in low concentration.
Japanese authorities said the discharge would have radioactivity levels below the limit set by the World Health Organization for drinking water, and that therefore it would not present risks to human health or the environment.
The plan faces opposition from local fishing organisations, whose activities have barely recovered from the 2011 nuclear disaster, and who fear the stigma attached to local fish and shellfish will be worsened by the dump.
The dump, scheduled to start in spring next year, has also drawn opposition from neighboring China and South Korea.
The International Atomic Energy Agency is reviewing plans for the dump together with Japanese authorities, and the director general of this United Nations agency, Rafael Grossi, is visiting Japan from Wednesday to Friday and travel to the Fukushima Daiichi plant. EFE