Updated | Toxic waste produced by one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters will be dumped into the sea, according to the head of the Japanese company tasked with cleaning up the radioactive mess, despite protests from local fishermen.
Takashi Kawamura, chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), told foreign media that nearly 777,000 tons of water tainted with tritium, a byproduct of the nuclear process that is notoriously difficult to filter out of water, will be dumped into the Pacific Ocean as part of a multibillion-dollar recovery effort following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. That year, an earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, killing more than 15,000 people and leading to a series of meltdowns at the TEPCO-owned Fukushima No. 1, or Daiichi, nuclear power plant, causing it to spew radiation that has plagued the region ever since.
While much progress has been made to clean the area, the company has yet to deal with the water that was used to cool the plant’s damaged reactors, causing it to become tainted with tritium.
“The decision has already been made,” Kawamura claimed, according to The Japan Times.
Tepco wants to release the contaminated water that is being stored in hundreds of tanks at the plant into the ocean. According to Reuters, this is a common practice at functioning nuclear plants.
Kawamura said that he would urge a government task force responsible for the cleanup of the Fukushima site to disclose when its decision on what to do with the water will be made.
“We could have decided much earlier, and that is TEPCO’s responsibility,” he added, according to Reuters.