Fukushima nuclear disaster

Tepco plans to dump toxic Fukushima groundwater in ocean after treatment

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 August, 2014, 2:12pm
UPDATED : Friday, 08 August, 2014, 3:41am

The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant unveiled a plan to dump scrubbed water into the ocean, sparking concerns about whether it would be fully decontaminated.

The plan revealed yesterday, which still needs approval from the nuclear agency and local residents, comes as workers struggle to safely store radioactive water used to cool reactors that went into meltdown in Japan's 2011 quake-tsunami disaster.

The tainted water is stored in hundreds of on-site tanks but operator Tokyo Electric Power has admitted that it's running out of space.

It is also fighting to keep contaminated groundwater from seeping into the ocean, more than three years after the worst atomic crisis in a generation.

The vast utility said it now wants to start pumping out the underground water, purify it with a state-of-the-art cleaning system and then release it.

"But we know we have to get an agreement from the relevant government authorities, the prefecture and local fishing unions," a company spokesman said.

The firm says it would significantly cut down on the amount of tainted groundwater flowing under the plant, after announcing earlier this year that it was building an "ice wall" - freezing the ground around the plant - to staunch the flow.

But the firm has long faced criticism over delays in disclosing key information and for continued safety problems at the crippled facility.

"We've not been told about details of this plan ... but I think most of the fishermen will be against it," said Kenji Nakada, an official at the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations.