Inside a nuclear power plant, toxic water flows from damaged reactors. Workers in hazmat suits monitor radioactive waste. Nine years after a major disaster, this Japanese plant is still a cause for concern.
On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and the resulting tsunami struck Fukushima, Japan. The city’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant took a hit. Radioactive water spilled from reactors and destroyed key cooling functions at the plant. Three reactors melted. They released massive amounts of radiation and forced 160,000 nearby residents to evacuate.
Today, radioactive water still leaks from the melted reactors. It mixes with groundwater in and around the plant. Workers must pump the toxic water—to keep it from flowing into the sea and elsewhere.
Radiation involves the discharge of high-energy particles. These particles can harm human cells. Medium levels of radiation make people sick; high levels damage internal organs—and can cause death.
At the abandoned Fukushima facility, three lines of equipment connected to pipes snake around the sprawling plant. The lines process 750 tons of contaminated water each day. They carry water to about 1,000 temporary storage tanks on the plant’s grounds.
After that, a complex decontamination (cleaning) process takes place. A high-tech filter system removes all but one radioactive contaminant. Titium can’t be removed. But it’s almost harmless when consumed in small amounts—at least that’s what Japan’s industry ministry and nuclear officials say.
Despite such statements, people are debating what to do with nearly 1.2 million tons of still-radioactive water.
Radiology expert Katsumi Shozugawa has been analyzing groundwater near the plant. He says the long-term effects of low-dose exposure in food haven’t been fully studied.
A government panel narrowed water disposal options. One remaining option is diluting the treated water to allowable levels and then releasing it into the sea. Another is allowing the water to evaporate. That process would take years.
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) official Akira Ono says the water must go somewhere. The plant needs to use the tank area for clearing tons of melted reactor debris.
Japan’s government will allow TEPCO to release the water into the ocean. But local residents, especially fishermen, oppose that plan. They believe the water will harm their already struggling fisheries. People still worry about eating fish possibly affected by contaminated water—despite the government’s repeated promises.
God is not man, that He should lie. . . . Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not fulfill it? — Numbers 23:19