More than 7 ½ years after an earthquake and tsunami destroyed the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, water stored there is still radioactive and can’t be released in the ocean.
The treated water at a Japanese nuclear plant badly damaged by a March 2011 earthquake and tsunami will need to be cleaned even more before it can be released into the ocean, the facility’s operator said Friday. They referred to it as “tritium water,” but that’s not what it was. Much of the water still contains several radioactive elements and therefore cannot be released.
TEPCO said Friday that studies found the water still contains other elements, including radioactive iodine, cesium and strontium. It said more than 80 percent of the 900,000 tons of water stored in large, densely packed tanks contains radioactivity exceeding limits for release into the environment.
TEPCO general manager Junichi Matsumoto said radioactive elements remained, especially earlier in the crisis when plant workers had to deal with large amounts of contaminated water leaking from the wrecked reactors and could not afford time to stop the treatment machines to change filters frequently.
About 161,000 tons of the treated water has 10 to 100 times the limit for release into the environment, and another 65,200 tons has up to nearly 20,000 times the limit, TEPCO said.
Matsumoto said the plant will treat the water further to ensure contamination levels are reduced to allowable limits.
More than 7 and a half years since a massive March 2011 earthquake and tsunami destroyed three reactors at the plant, Japan has yet to reach a consensus on what to do with the radioactive water. Fishermen and residents oppose its release into the ocean. Nuclear experts have recommended the controlled release of the water into the Pacific as the only realistic option.