Facts to Know about Japan’s Release of the Radioactive Fukushima Water

Twelve years ago after Fukushima Japan used seawater to cool the plant’s nuclear reactors to prevent nuclear disaster, the Japanese government proceeded with the release of the radioactive water. The discharge of the highly contaminated water back to the Pacific Ocean was vetted by the United Nations (UN) Atomic Regulator. Still, the action was met with both local and international protests.

The Nuclear Plant is Running Out of Storage Space for Treated Water

According to the now government-owned Tesco, the seawater used to cool down the nuclear reactors after the 9.00 earthquake that hit Japan in 2011, is made safe through collection in tanks and daily treatment processes. The problem that they need to provide with a solution is the lack of storage spaces for the already treated water.

While daily treatment aims to remove all radioactive elements, an element called tritium is assertive by nature. It is very difficult to remove because it’s a rare earth element that  can be formed by the interaction of cosmic rays and gases.

Nevertheless, Fukushima’s radioactive water has been diluted to bring down contamination to 1,500 becquerels per litre (Bq/L), The UN atomic regulators consider the measure as within a safe level since the standard or operational limit for tritium is set at 10,000 Bq/L.

UN Atomic Regulator Confirms Below Standard Level of Tritium

The UN Atomic Regulator’s latest statement regarding the Fukushima water released by the Japanese government, confirmed that the tritium content of the water discharges is far below the operational limit. Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, which is present in titrated water found all over the world.

The independent on site analysis performed by the Fukushima-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stated that the limit is 40 times lower than the tritium level established as Japan’s national safety standard for drinking water. When compared to the limit set by the World Health Organization (WHO) for drinking water, the tritium level found in the radioactive Fukushima water is about seven times lower.

Amidst the widespread protest actions in Japan and neighboring countries like South Korea and China, the discharge of the radioactive Fukushima water is expected to last up to March 2024. Yet if in terms of discharges involving all the seawater still being collected and undergoing treatment in the plant, the entire process of releasing the water is estimated to last up to 30 years.