TOKYO (Kyodo) — The Japanese government has decided to release treated radioactive water accumulated at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea despite opposition from fishermen, a source familiar with the matter said Friday.
It will hold a meeting of related ministers as early as Tuesday to formally decide on the plan, a major development following over seven years of discussions on how to discharge the water used to cool down melted fuel at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
The release into the sea of the treated water containing radioactive tritium, which is said to pose little risk to human health, is likely to provoke concern among consumers and neighboring countries such as China and South Korea. The government had initially hoped to make a decision on the discharge of the treated water in October last year but later decided it would need more time for discussions amid staunch concern about reputational damage to marine products.
But Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday his government will decide “in a few days” whether to release the water after meeting with Hiroshi Kishi, head of the national federation of fisheries cooperatives, who conveyed his organization’s unwavering opposition to the plan.
In February last year, a government panel proposed various options for disposing of the water, including releasing it into the ocean as well as evaporating it.
The following month, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant, drafted a plan to dilute the water to below the legal limit for concentration of radioactive materials before releasing it in the sea.