After the tsunami that devastated the Fukushima nuclear power plant on March 11, 2011, Japan is working on the treatment of wastewater within that plant. Fukushima’s water is contaminated with radiation, so in order to eliminate it, it must first be decontaminated.
Fukushima wastewater receives special treatment.
Initially, the water was used to cool the molten fuel during the disaster. However, water continues to enter the plant from subway springs and also from rainfall. ALPS, a laboratory that was specially designed for Fukushima, treats the accumulated wastewater.
This unit removes almost all radioactive substances present in the water inside the power plant. Once treated, the liquid accumulates in a tank farm, there are about a thousand tanks. Although, these tanks are already almost full, so Japan is planning to discharge the treated water into the sea from 2024.
However, there is a big problem that is of great concern; the technology they currently use, does not eliminate one of the radioactive substances present in the water, it is tritium. The laboratory analyzes 90,000 water samples every year. This is how they can confirm that tritium cannot be separated from water, although it is present in small quantities.
They are preparing to discharge the treated water into the Pacific.
The discharge of the water into the sea will be done through a tunnel specially built for this purpose, one kilometer long. The tunnel is 16 meters deep. It is a long process, which will take 30 to 40 years to complete.
At ALPS, the wastewater receives two stages of treatment. However, before discharging it into the Pacific, they will conduct a new analysis in specially designed pools where they mix treated water with seawater. In these pools, Japan will analyze whether this procedure can affect marine life. To this end, they are raising fish in these pools to determine whether or not the decontaminated water will harm them. They plan to start discharging the treated wastewater into the Pacific in the spring of 2024.
Fukushima water worries people in the area.
The big concern there is that it will hurt the Fukushima fishing community. They had a big drop in the reputation of their products after the incident at the nuclear plant.
The port of Onahama is located 60 kilometers from the stricken power plant. The fishermen’s business has suffered great apprehension from consumers ever since. Before the nuclear disaster, they fished 25,000 tons of fish per year. After the incident, that figure dropped to 5,000 tons. For this reason, the fishing community is against the dumping of the water into the sea. However, they recognize that the Japanese government is doing things right and there is good communication between both parties.
For the population’s peace of mind, permanent controls are carried out. Every day they analyze a specimen of each species captured in a laboratory set up in the port. So far, none of the 63 species caught in these waters showed traces of radioactivity. They plan to continue with these analyses after the discharge of the waters into the sea begins.