How will Japan release contaminated Fukushima water into the ocean?
The Japanese Government recently approved a plan to release more than 1 million tonnes of treated radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. In 2011, there occurred a nuclear disaster in the plant due an earthquake and tsunami. It was the most severe Nuclear accident that was classified as Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale.
What is the issue?
The release of the treated radioactive water could take several years to begin and will take decades to complete. Also, Japan is facing opposition from the anti-nuclear activists and fishing communities for the release of the water into the sea.
Is the release safe?
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the release of the water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant is similar to disposing wastewater from nuclear plants elsewhere in the world.
Where did such huge amount of radio active water come from?
To bring the damaged nuclear reactor under control a makeshift system of pumps and piping was used. Tonnes of water was injected into the damaged nuclear reactors to keep the melted Uranium rods cool. The water got contaminated as it contacted the fuel. The contaminated water has now piled up to 1.3 million tonnes.
What is the plan to release the water?
The Operator TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings) has planned to filter the contaminated water leaving only tritium. This is because, it is highly complicated and difficult to remove tritium from water. However, the filtered water is to be diluted till tritium levels fall below regulatory limits before dumping into the ocean.
Tritium is less harmful as compared to other radioactive wastes. It does not emit enough energy to penetrate human skin. However, it can cause cancer when ingested.