At one time the author wrote about the fate of the radioactive water accumulated at Fukushima-1 and that sooner or later the Japanese government would decide to drain it. Finally, it happened. On April 13, 2021, the Japanese government decided to allow a significant amount of water from the damaged nuclear power plant’s storage tanks to be discharged into the ocean. A government statement released by Japanese media claims that the water is generally clean of radioactive substances, so the discharge needed to dispose of the damaged reactors will be done safely.
There was a “well-orchestrated hysteria” about it in South Korea, and it came to accusations of nuclear terrorism. But before describing the details, let us recall the situation and examine the extent to which Tokyo’s actions actually pose an environmental threat.
The Fukushima accident occurred in March 2011, when the plant’s power supply and cooling systems failed as a result of the tsunami. To cool the reactors, water is continuously pumped into them, which is stored on the territory of the plant, but already now the storage tanks for contaminated water are almost full, and there is no way to build new ones. The volume of treated water exceeded 1.2 million tons and in February 2020, a government commission presented a plan to dispose of the water by discharging it into the sea or evaporating it into the atmosphere after the concentration of radioactive substances has been reduced to levels acceptable under environmental and other regulations.
The Korean media like to mention the “highly contaminated” or “radioactive” water, but through using adsorbing equipment, the power plant operator TEPCO is freeing the water from cesium and strontium, which make up the largest portion of radioactive materials. The ALPS treatment plant then removes the rest of the radioactive substances. Water is then stored in tanks more than ten meters high, which are densely packed in the NPP area. As the Japanese media wrote, the forest of these containers as tall as a three-story house is a depressing sight.
Even in the immediate vicinity of the cisterns, the radiation level is no different from the normal background on the streets and in the houses of the Japanese capital. Although the water is not completely cleaned of radioactive substances,