Fukushima nuclear plant may dump radioactive water into Pacific

Storage tanks for radioactive water are seen at Tokyo Electric Power Co's tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant

Storage tanks for radioactive water are seen at Tokyo Electric Power Co's tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant

Tokyo Electric Power, or Tepco, has collected more than one million tonnes of contaminated water from the cooling pipes used to keep fuel cores from melting since the plant was crippled by an quake and tsunami in 2011.

The International Atomic Energy Agency says Japan has to make a decision about what is going to happen to the contaminated water urgently. According to TEPCO, that proverbial tipping point will come in 2022, so naturally, the Japanese government is reviewing ideas and plans for just what to do with it all.

Harada, who is expected to leave the cabinet in a reshuffle Wednesday, said "there is no other option than to release it (into the sea) and dilute it". Other options include vaporizing the liquid or storing it on land for an extended period.

There have been attempts to remove most radionuclides from the excess water, but the technology does not exist to rid the water of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen.

"I understand that Harada's comment means that the government should fully discuss the matter, and it was his personal opinion". Tepco is not in a position to decide what to do but will follow the policy once the government has made a decision, a spokesman for the utility said.

In 2011, three reactors at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant suffered meltdowns when an quake and tsunami devastated the area.

Earlier this month, government officials told a meeting with embassy officials in Tokyo that they were still considering options for handling contaminated water at the Fukushima plant. Radioactive water from the damaged reactors has leaked and mixed with groundwater and rainwater from the plant.

Since 2015, Tepco has emptied out hundreds of tonnes of processed water with a volume of tritium of between 330-600 becquerels per litre, under the 1,500-becquerel limit under Japanese law.

Tepco has collected more than one million tonnes of contaminated water from the cooling pipes used to keep fuel cores from melting since the plant was crippled in 2011.

Tanks containing contaminated water that has been treated at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The Japanese government only previous year acknowledged that a worker at Fukushima, who died of lung cancer in 2016, contracted the illness from his exposure to high levels of radiation at the plant, making him the first and only official radiation-related fatality there.