As Japan marks the third anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, Tepco is struggling to find a solution for hundreds of thousands of tonnes of contaminated water
A senior adviser to the operator of the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has told the firm that it may have no choice but to eventually dump hundreds of thousands of tonnes of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean.
Speaking to reporters who were on a rare visit to the plant on the eve of the third anniversary of the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, Dale Klein said Tokyo Electric Power [Tepco] had yet to reassure the public over the handling of water leaks that continue to frustrate efforts to clean up the site.
“The one issue that keeps me awake at night is Tepco’s long-term strategy for water management,” said Klein, a former chairman of the US nuclear regulatory commission who now leads Tepco’s nuclear reform committee.
“Storing massive amounts of water on-site is not sustainable. A controlled release is much safer than keeping the water on-site.
“Tepco is making progress on water management but I’m not satisfied yet. It’s frustrating that the company takes four or five steps forward, then two back. And every time you have a leakage it contributes to a lack of trust. There’s room for improvement on all fronts.”
Klein, too, voiced scepticism over the frozen wall solution, and suggested that the controlled release of treated water into the Pacific was preferable to storing huge quantities of it on site.
But Tepco, the government and nuclear regulators would have to win the support of local fishermen, and the release of even treated water would almost certainly draw a furious response from China and South Korea.
“It’s a very emotional issue,” Klein said. “But Tepco and the government will have to articulate their position to other people. For me, the water issue is more about policy than science.”
Tepco is pinning its hopes on technology that can remove dozens of dangerous radionuclides, apart from tritium, internal exposure to which has been linked to a greater risk of developing cancer.
Klein, however, said tritium does not pose the same threat to heath as bone-settling strontium and caesium, and can be diluted to safe levels before it is released into the sea.
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