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Japan to resume effort to tackle contaminated water problem at Fukushima via USNews

TOKYO (REUTERS) – JAPAN is resuming efforts to disperse a build-up of contaminated water at Tokyo Electric Power’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant that is stalling progress on cleaning up the site, the government said on Thursday.

A panel of experts will meet on Friday for the first time in eight months to consider options to get rid of the water, Japan’s government said in briefing documents it released.

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In 2016, the Japanese government estimated that the total cost of plant dismantling, decontamination of affected areas, and compensation, would be 21.5 trillion yen ($203 billion), or about a fifth of the country’s annual budget.

Tokyo won the bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics around six years ago, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declaring that Fukushima was “under control” in his final pitch to the International Olympic Committee.

At nuclear sites around the world, contaminated water is treated to remove all radioactive particles except tritium, a relatively harmless isotope of hydrogen hard to separate from water and released into the environment.

But because of missteps such as last year’s admission that it had not removed everything except tritium from the tanks, Tepco faces difficulties winning the trust of regional fisherman who oppose the water’s release into the ocean.

Some countries, including South Korea, still have restrictions on produce from areas around the Fukushima site.

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