03 August 2022
The Fukushima prefectural government and the municipal governments of the towns of Futaba and Okuma, which host the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, have given their consent for the construction of facilities for the planned discharge of treated water from the damaged plant into the sea.
Water storage tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi plant site (Image: Tepco)
In December 2021, Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) submitted a request for prior consent to Fukushima Prefecture, Okuma Town and Futaba Town for the installation of facilities for the dilution and discharge of water that has been treated by the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS ).
This request was based on an agreement signed between Tepco, Fukushima Prefecture, Okuma and Futaba in January 2015 in order to secure the safety of local residents and to restore the living environment through the reduction of the site boundary dose by safely and steadily working towards the containment of the accident and decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
On August 2, Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori, Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa and Okuma Mayor Jun Yoshida handed to Tepco President Tomoaki Kobayakawa documents approving the construction of the facilities for the release of the treated water, including a 1-kilometer-long undersea tunnel.
In a 3 August statement, Tepco said: “While construction of ALPS-treated water dilution/discharge facilities, etc. will begin on 4 August 2022, with safety as the top priority, we will also work to build trust of people inside and outside Japan, by responding sincerely to safety confirmation by municipalities and reviews by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and disclosing the construction status as appropriate to secure objectivity and transparency.”
Tepco is still required to gain the understanding of “interested parties”, including the local fishing industry, before any water can be released.
Uchibori, Izawa and Yoshida have called on the central government to take measures to prevent reputational damage to marine products from the area, the Kyodo news agency reported. On August 3, they met with Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda in Tokyo to discuss the issue.
“The plan has not earned enough understanding from Japanese people and residents of the prefecture, as there are still various opinions including concerns over renewed reputational damage,” Uchibori was quoted as saying.
At the Fukushima Daiichi site, contaminated water – in part used to cool melted nuclear fuel – is treated by the ALPS system, which removes most of the radioactive contamination, with the exception of tritium. This treated water is currently stored in about 1000 tanks on site. The total tank storage capacity amounts to about 1.37 million cubic meters and all the tanks were originally expected to be full around mid-2022. However, in June, Tepco said it now expects the tanks to reach full capacity in mid to late-2023.
Japan announced in April 2021 it planned to discharge treated water stored at the Fukushima Daiichi plant into the sea over a period of about 30 years, and asked the IAEA to review its plans against IAEA safety standards.
Tepco submitted its application for the basic design of the ALPS-treated water dilution/discharge facility and related facilities to Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) on 21 December 2021. Under the plan, the treated water will be diluted with seawater so that the amount of tritium contained will be smaller than one-fortieth of state-set standards. The diluted water will then travel through an undersea tunnel and be discharged about 1 kilometer off the coast.
The NRA last month formally approved Tepco’s plan to discharge the water into the sea.
Researched and written by World Nuclear News