TEPCO plans massive ocean dumping of radioactive water at Fukushima
March 11 is the 10th anniversary of the Fukushima accident; it’s really not over yet, since the site continues to produce vast amounts of contaminated water. There is also no real answer for what will be done with the molten cores of the reactors when they are eventually extracted. The cost of decommissioning will run into hundreds of billions of dollars; it will take decades.
The most immediate threat is the official plan to discharge about 1.3 million metric tons of radioactively contaminated water – about 340 million gallons – containing tritium, strontium-90, carbon-14 and other radionuclides. This is the quickest and cheapest method of dealing with it; it is also dirtiest option by far, in my view. Listen to the interview I did with Living On Earth, Public Radio International’s environment show. It is this week’s opening segment, Radioactive Water Dilemma at Fukushima.
The proposed plan seems to be in violation of the 1972 London Anti-Dumping Convention, which unequivocally bans the dumping of radioactive waste in the seas. (Item 6 in Annex I, where the banned items are listed, states “Radioactive wastes or other radioactive matter.”) The Biden administration should join China, South Korea, Chile, and the Fukushima region’s fishing community in protesting the plan. All of them should demand that TEPCO, the power plant’s owner, do a global environmental impact statement comparing the ecological and health consequences of all alternatives, including the option of extracting the tritium and storing it for several decades till it is almost all decayed away. That is the least that TEPCO and the Japanese government can do before taking irreversible action to dump on their neighbors and a part of their own food supply.
My warm wishes to you
Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D.
Institute for Energy and Environmental Research
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