Japan has announced plans to dump 790,000 tons of deadly Fukushima nuclear waste into the Pacific ocean, saying that they can no longer contain the waste on land.
Following the major tsunami in 2011 that resulted the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant shutting down, the constant leaking of radiation that has occurred in the aftermath has been dubbed one of the worst nuclear disasters since Chernobyl.
Six years after the disaster, the three crippled reactors are still leaking water with high levels of radiation into the Pacific Ocean.
According to The Independent, the company’s decision to dump tainted water from Fukushima’s triple meltdown has outraged locals and citizens around the globe. Despite the fierce outcry, Takashi Kawamura, chairman of TEPCO, declared: “The decision has already been made.” However, TEPCO is not legally allowed to release the nearly 790,000 tons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean until the government gives the final approval. “We cannot keep going if we do not have the support of the state,” said Mr. Kawamura.
Among those infuriated by the proposal to dump tritium-tainted water into the ocean are fishermen, who say the decision will affect their livelihoods.
Kanji Tachiya, head of a local fishermen’s cooperative, for instance, told the press: “Releasing (tritium) into the sea will create a new wave of unfounded rumors, making our efforts all for naught.”
TEPCO claims tritium is of little danger to humans unless exposed to high quantities. Said NRA chairman Tanaka, the chemical is “so weak in its radioactivity it won’t penetrate plastic wrapping.” Oceanagrapher Simon Boxall, who works at the University of Southhampton, agreed.
He told The Guardian, “In the broad scale of things, if they do end up putting the material in the Pacific, it will have minimal effect on an ocean basin scale.”
Whether or not the water harms wildlife is questionable, but of more concern, it seems, to environmental activists is the potential that similar practices may become more common.
“They say that it will be safe because the ocean is large so it will be diluted, but that sets a precedent that can be copied, essentially permitting anyone to dump nuclear waste into our seas,” said Aileen Mioko-Smith of Green Action Japan.
Considering radiation from Fukushima crippled two robots in the past, some believe there is cause for concern.