According to media reports, Japan will soon start discharging treated cooling water from the Fukushima nuclear reactor into the sea.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will meet with relevant cabinet ministers on August 20 following a visit to the United States, the country’s highest-circulation newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun and other media, citing those in the know, will discuss the exact timing of the water discharge decide to go to sea. According to the reports, dumping is expected to begin between the end of this month and early next month.

Kishida first wants to inform US President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol about the plan to dump the huge amounts of contaminated water. They will meet on August 18 for a summit at Camp David, Maryland, near the capital Washington.

In 2011, an earthquake and tsunami caused a core meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The destroyed reactors still have to be cooled with water stored in tanks. There are now more than 1.3 million tons stored there.

These are the reasons for the introduction

According to the operating company Tepco, there is now insufficient space for more tanks on the site. In addition, long-term storage on the site threatens to impede the decommissioning work on the nuclear ruins. There is also a risk of leaks. The government therefore decided that the contaminated water would be discharged into the sea via a one-kilometer tunnel built in the Pacific Ocean. It is estimated that dumping will take around 30 years. Before dumping, the water is first treated. The filter system can filter out 62 radionuclides – except for the radioactive isotope tritium.

Tepco therefore wants to dilute the water to such an extent that the tritium concentration drops to around 1,500 becquerels per liter, which corresponds to less than a fortieth of the national safety standard. Japan’s nuclear regulatory agency recently gave the green light. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had previously approved the dumping plans. Japan meets international safety standards. According to the Atomic Energy Agency, the effects on humans and the environment are “negligible”.

Experts point out that nuclear power plants all over the world have routinely discharged contaminated cooling water into the sea for decades. Local fishermen are still opposed to their own government’s plan. They fear reputational damage and loss of sales. China also rejects the plan and is tightening import controls for Japanese food.