News Feature | October 22, 2018

Japan To Flush Radioactive Fukushima Water Into Ocean

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

Japan plans to release radioactive water tainted by the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean.

The water contains radioactive material significantly over the legal limit, The Telegraph reported.

“The government is running out of space to store contaminated water that has come into contact with fuel that escaped from three nuclear reactors after the plant was destroyed in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck north-east Japan,” the report stated.

“Its plan to release the approximately 1.09 million tons of water currently stored in 900 tanks into the Pacific has triggered a fierce backlash from local residents and environmental organizations, as well as groups in South Korea and Taiwan fearful that radioactivity from the second-worst nuclear disaster in history might wash up on their shores,” it continued.

The Japanese government had promised to reduce radioactive levels, the report stated. Yet a radioactive cocktail is still contained in the water, according to The Telegraph, which cited documents provided by a source in the Japanese government. The cocktail includes iodine, ruthenium, rhodium, antimony, tellurium, cobalt, and strontium.

“Iodine 129 has a half-life of 15.7 million years and can cause cancer of the thyroid; ruthenium 106 is produced by nuclear fission and high doses can be toxic and carcinogenic when ingested,” the report stated.

In March, The Japan Times published an update on radioactive material connected to the site.

“More than seven years after the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis, radioactive water is continuing to flow into the Pacific Ocean from the crippled No. 1 plant at a rate of around 2 billion becquerels a day, a study has found,” the report stated.

“The amount of leaking cesium 137 has decreased from some 30 billion becquerels in 2013,” the report continued, citing Michio Aoyama, the study author and a professor at the Institute of Environmental Radioactivity at Fukushima University.

The Guardian provided a different perspective this month when it pointed out fears of contamination have made people afraid of visiting the area.

Nevertheless, The Guardian reported, “in some decontaminated parts of Fukushima, radiation levels have fallen to the government target of 0.23 microsieverts an hour, or 1 millisievert a year assuming that an individual spends eight hours outdoors and 16 hours indoors each day. By comparison, the global average exposure of humans to ionizing radiation is between 2.4 and 3 millisieverts a year.”