Japan to evaporate contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear plant

8 April 2015 (Last Updated April 8th, 2015 18:30)

Japan is planning to evaporate or store underground tritium-laced water from the Fukushima nuclear plant instead of releasing into the ocean.

Japan is planning to evaporate or store underground tritium-laced water from the Fukushima nuclear plant instead of releasing into the ocean.

Japanese electric utility Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (TEPCO) plans to release the tritium-laced water into the ocean have been opposed by local fishermen as they are concerned about the impact on their livelihood.

The water, which is used to keep the reactors cool to prevent further radioactive releases, is contaminated with radioactive material and has since been leaking and mixing with groundwater that is seeping through the facility.

However, there is no available technology to remove tritium, which is a relatively harmless radioactive isotope left behind in treated water.

"Japan is planning to evaporate or store underground tritium-laced water from the Fukushima nuclear plant instead of releasing into the ocean."

TEPCO outside adviser Dale Klein was quoted by Reuters as saying that evaporation method was used after the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster in the US but the amounts were much smaller.

"They have huge volumes of water so they cannot evaporate it like they did at Three Mile Island," added Klein.

The Reuters quoted Fukushima nuclear plant chief decommissioning officer Naohiro Masuda as saying that he is not clear when a final decision about evaporation will be made.

TEPCO is being forced to build hundreds of tanks to store contaminated and treated water.

Last week, the plant’s operator announced plans to reveal all data on radiation levels recorded at the site in response to criticism over its lack of transparency.

TEPCO had also announced that it will not be able to process the radioactive water stored at the Fukushima plant by March as promised earlier, due to technical problems.