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article imageDumping of groundwater from Fukushima plant starts in May

By Karen Graham     Apr 5, 2014 in Environment
The Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) announced plans on Friday to start dumping groundwater from the crippled Fukushima Daichii power plant into the ocean, beginning as early as May 1, 2014.
Toshimitsu Motegi, the Economy, Trade and Industry Minister said the operation would begin after the catching season for young sand lance is over, which is usually around the end of April. TEPCO however, has not revealed whether they have a system in place or are still in the process of implementing a plan to solve the groundwater problem.
TEPCO has a very big problem with contaminated water storage on their hands. Over 90 percent of the thousands of tanks that were installed for storage of 431,000 metric tons of radioactive contaminated water have been used. The power company wants to pump up and divert incoming groundwater before it reaches the contaminated water coming from the damaged reactor.
The plan involves pumping up hundreds of tons of groundwater before it mixes with the contaminated water still in the basements of the buildings where the reactors are housed. TEPCO plans to discharge approximately 100 metric tons of this uncontaminated water daily into the sea using a bypass system.
There had been widespread opposition from the surrounding municipalities and the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Association. After meeting with local government officials and the fisheries association members in Iwaki, TEPCO announced on March 25 they had finally been given permission to use the proposed plan.
After explaining the water diversion plan to those in attendance, and then getting approval, officials said they would begin next month. Toshihide Kasutani, a senior official at the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, assured everyone, “The groundwater to be released at the very beginning will be analyzed thoroughly, for as long as about a month.”
The decision to let TEPCO go ahead with the groundwater diversion plan was agonizing to the fisheries federation. If nothing is done, within a year, there will be no more room for storage of contaminated water at the site. The inflow of contaminated water to this point has created a great deal of economic stress to fisherman. It is expected that there will be compensation from the government and TEPCO if fisheries continue to suffer losses, despite the bypass.
More about fukushima nuclear plant, Groundwater, TEPCO officials, radiation levels, fisheries industry
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