The operator of the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant has this week commenced test drilling for pipes to release more than 1.23 million tons of treated radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean, the work coinciding with a study by an environmental group accusing Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) of using “flawed” scientific analysis to justify the release. Tepco on Tuesday started a boring survey at the nuclear plant, which was destroyed in the March 2011 earthquake and the massive tsunami it triggered, causing the meltdown of three of the six reactors at the site and the second-worst nuclear disaster in history. With the backing of the government, Tepco intends to lay a pipeline to a location about 700 metres offshore and start to release treated water into the ocean from the spring of 2023. The company claims that virtually all trace of the 64 radionuclides will be eliminated before the release of the water, which is used to keep the damaged reactors cool, but critics point out that no independent organisations had been permitted to test radiation levels in the water in the more than 10 years since the disaster. Tepco on November 17 released a study that concluded the effects of the release of the water “on the public and the environment is minimal as calculated doses were significantly less than the dose limits, dose targets and the values specified by international organisations”. On Thursday, Greenpeace released a study that took issue with the findings in Tepco’s report, saying its own radiological impact assessment “found many flaws in the approach and with their conclusions”. How dangerous is Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant 10 years after meltdowns? The firm “does not apply the basic principles of radiation protection, which requires even low-level increases in radiation risks to be justified and demonstrate net benefits to society”, Greenpeace’s report said, while Tepco had also failed to take into account the existing radiation exposure of the local population as a result of the original disaster in its conclusions. Tepco also ignored cumulative effects of exposure to elevated levels of radiation, as well as the long-term effects on marine ecology, species and food chains, the Greenpeace study found. The Tepco report also failed to take into account future hazards at the plant due to “its fundamentally flawed decommissioning plan”, while the assessment of the impact of the radiation was “extremely limited” and failed to include the impact on the wider east coast of Japan or further afield in the Pacific. Tepco’s discharge plans can be stopped Shaun Burnie, Greenpeace East Asia The plan to discharge the water violates the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Greenpeace said, adding that Tepco continued to ignore alternative solutions to the problem of contaminated water at the site, including long-term storage. “The Tepco document is flawed in its scientific analysis and disregard for basic international norms of radiation protection,” said Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace East Asia. “It is wholly inadequate, legally takes no account of wider impacts, including to the Asia-Pacific region, and in no way provides justification to deliberately discharge radioactivity into the Pacific Ocean over at least 30 years,” he said. “Opposition, including by small Pacific island nations, continues. Tepco’s discharge plans can be stopped.” In a statement, a Tepco official declined to comment directly on the Greenpeace report, but said the company would continue to seek the approval of the Nuclear Regulation Authority for the planned release of the water. Tepco says an additional 210 tons of water builds up at the site every day and argues it is running out of space close to the reactors, and that another natural disaster could rupture the hundreds of tanks containing the contaminated water, causing a new environmental crisis. China warns of action if Japan dumps Fukushima water into the sea The plant operator is pushing ahead with the plan in spite of criticism from home and abroad. Fishermen and farmers in eastern Japan have expressed their anger, claiming it will further damage the reputation of their industries and ruin their livelihoods, while people living in coastal areas are similarly concerned at the possible impact on their health. The work is taking place at the same time the Japanese government is calling on countries around the world to lift restrictions on imports of foodstuffs from northeast Japan as there is no evidence they pose any danger to the health of consumers. A number of governments in the region, including Hong Kong, South Korea and China, have also expressed deep reservations about the proposal to dump the contaminated water into the Pacific. South Korea has already indicated it is planning to take legal action against the move and the case may be joined by other nations.