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Releasing Water from Nuke Disaster
News Bytes 04/14/2021 35 Comments

Japan’s government announced yesterday that it would start discharging treated radioactive water from a wrecked nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean. Fishers, residents, and Japan’s neighbors fiercely oppose the move. Yet Cabinet ministers insist the ocean release is Japan’s best option.

In 2011, a massive earthquake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant reactors. (See Frozen in Japan for more on the disaster.) Broken equipment contaminated the reactors’ cooling water and began leaking. Since the accident, huge tanks at the Fukushima plant have stored the toxic water.

In the decade since the tsunami disaster, water meant to cool the nuclear material has constantly escaped the damaged main containment vessels into the basements of the reactor buildings. To make up for the loss, workers pump more water into the reactors. Water is also pumped out and treated. Part of that water is recycled for ongoing cooling. The remainder goes into 1,020 tanks now holding 1.25 million tons of radioactive water.

Those tanks occupy a large space at the plant. They interfere with the safe and steady progress of the clean-up.

But the plant’s storage capacity will be full late next year. So where will all the water go? The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), says some must be released into the ocean. The company calls the release necessary to improve the environment surrounding the plant so residents can live there safely.

A government panel has spent years discussing how to dispose of the contaminated water.

Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga says releasing the water into the ocean is the most realistic option. He says workers must dispose of the water to complete the clean-up so that the Fukushima plant can be retired. He asserts that his government will make sure the released water isn’t harmful.

Japan’s government calls the water “treated” not “radioactive”—even though certain radioactive elements can never be reduced to zero. The amount of radioactive material that would remain in the water is unknown, but the government stresses that the release will be safe.

TEPCO and government officials admit that tritium, which is not harmful in small amounts, can never be fully removed from the water. But they say hazardous elements can be reduced to releasable levels. However, some scientists point out that the long-term impact on marine life is unknown.

Under the basic plan, TEPCO will begin releasing the water in about two years. Experts say it could take nearly 40 years to deal with all the treated water.

Residents, fisheries officials, and environmental groups have issued statements condemning the decision. Protesters gathered outside the Prime Minister’s Office to demand the plan be scrapped. They claim the government is ignoring environmental safety and health—and further hurting Fukushima’s image and economy.

Japan Fisheries Cooperatives chairman Hiroshi Kishi insists the decision “trampled on” all Japanese fisheries operators. Local fisheries have just returned to full operation after a decade in which their catch was only for testing purposes. They are struggling because of dwindling demand.

China and South Korea reacted strongly to Tuesday’s decision.

Koo Yun-cheol, minister of South Korea’s Office for Government Policy Coordination, calls the plan “absolutely unacceptable.” South Korea has banned seafood imports from parts of Japan since 2013 and could increase those steps.

China criticized Japan’s decision as “extremely irresponsible,” saying it had not considered the health concerns of neighboring countries.

What are your best suggestions for dealing with millions of gallons of contaminated water? Should Japan be allowed to dump it into the ocean? Why or why not?

(People chant slogans against the government’s decision to start releasing treated radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea, during a rally in Tokyo on Tuesday, April 13, 2021. AP/Eugene Hoshiko)

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Most recent comments

I'm not sure what I would do.

I'm not sure what I would do. Both options seem to have the same amount of pros and cons.

Hmmm, that seems worrying, I

Hmmm, that seems worrying, I don't know if I would trust Japan or not.

3rd comment

I think it would really hurt the marine life in the ocean. No matter how long it sits you can't get rid of the radioactivity, period. But then again I don't know what to do with it. But dumping it into the ocean is really surprising for Japan, because then it comes in contact with the fish, but because Japan eats SOOOOO much fish, what if they eat one that has come in contact with that water? Could it do something to the people?

Tough situation

Wow that is a hard situation. You could send it to space but that would take time and trillions of dollars

I think That they should not

I think That they should not dump it into the ocean because it might contaminate their supply

Of fish

Of fish

@ Riley

I agree entirely.

Don't you dare

Don't you dare through that contaminated water into the ocean, there is already to much junk, more than we can handle. Japan just either live with it or make it into regular water, but DON"T through it into the ocean.

Yeah i am definitely of the

Yeah i am definitely of the opinion DON'T DO THIS YOU CRAZY PEOPLE YOU ARE GOING TO RUIN THE OCEAN. So i suppose for once i agree with china. I think japan should try to see if they can use for something else tho i don't know (doubt) if there is much you can do with radioactive water. I agree with Justin, it would be nice to send it to space, but then again that would be really expensive and then good grief pollution problems again. maybe it would be nice if people stopped building things that are radioactive or contain radioactive components. because they seem to cause more problems then they are worth. this is a hard question tho, what to do with the mess? rrgggg....

I don't even know what to

I don't even know what to think.

Treat it and Dump it

As long as they are able to do what they say they can do and reduce the radioactive components to a non-harmful level it should go in the ocean. To those of you saying that they should shut down nuclear plants, if they don't get rid of the water this plant has to stay operational indefinitely.
Also, China has no standing to say that when they are committing genocide against the Uighers.

This is London

They need to do something about the water. Rember the great molasses flood .

this is mylee

I dont think they should to this as someone said above the ocean already has enough junk in it. Also sea food and marine life live in the ocean :(.

Oh this is hard, I don't

Oh this is hard, I don't think hat they should dup it int the ocean because sooo many Japanese people eat a lot of fish and it would just be bad for everything that lives in that area that they are going to dump in. But it would also be bad if they kept in on land. Too bad they can't send it into space like Justin M said.

My Solution

Get a space ship and fill it with the water, and the either release the water into space, or put the water into an unmanned space craft and hurtle it into a black hole! (Okay, maybe this isn't that realistic but...:)
My biggest concern is what the effect will be on people who go into the ocean.

I Agree with Asher E. And if

I Agree with Asher E. And if we send the water to space then we will have permanently lost all that water. We already have small amounts of radiation in the atmosphere and it doesn't semm to hurt us. So if they can do what they say they can then it should be fine.

17th Comment! XP

Wow, this is hard! I wish they wouldn't dump that toxic waste into the ocean, but what else can they do?

@Brownies

By the time they put it into the ocean it won't be toxic anymore.

This is London

In the great molasses flood they had a tank with molasses they they kept feeling up and then it bursted and killed ppl and injured many we wouldn’t want this to happen to japan

@ London

There was a flood of molasses? Do you know when it happened?

@ Caleb A

Sorry, I don't understand. Do you think it is a good idea to send it to space or not?

@ Above

Yeah, I've heard of the molasses flood before. Tragic and terrible, I tell you. :(
I don't know what they should do. I definitely don't want it in the water! Imagine how many people could die from the poison! My, my, hard decision... like someone above said I for once agree with China.

@ Bethy

January 15, 1919 was the date it happened

I would not dump it in the

I would not dump it in the ocean. Think of all the wildlife that would be destroyed. I'm not sure what I would do, but I would DEFINITELY not dump in the ocean.

@ All

Does anyone know why the number of comments on Trial of a Police Officer went down by a lot?

It's kind of funny to think

It's kind of funny to think that there was an actual flood of molasses. Not funny that people died, but still.

@ Bethy

No clue, I never commented on there

@ Stefan

Yes, I know! It's like how Absolom, King David's son from 2 Samuel, got killed from getting his hair caught in the branches of a tree and then being run through with a sword.

@ Abigail and Stephen

Stephen: That's what I thought!
Abigail: Oh good analogy! (Or thought, since I don't know if analogy applies to it.)

@Bethy S

They deleted a bunch for some reason. I have no idea why they would do that though.

@ Asher E

Okay.

Huh i went to the link on

Huh i went to the link on this article (the Frozen in Japan one) and i recognize nobody in the comments. NOBODY from the past few months is on there.

@ Micah

(I think I got your name right.)
Huh is right.
(I am using right too much...)

@Bethy S

I think I know why. They took out the debate and the nastiness, didn't they. All the bad words and insults? It's about time.

@ Addie

Oohh, okay. Thanks for telling me.

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