Japan's economy industry ministry has reportedly proposed a gradual release or evaporation of massive amounts of treated but still radioactive water at the Fukushima nuclear plant. According to international media reports. The proposal was made on December 23 to a body of experts. It is also the first time that the ministry has narrowed down the options available to just releasing the water as it is still accumulating and as the water is needed to keep the cores cooled and minimize leaks from the damaged reactors.
The draft proposal reportedly suggests a controlled release of the radioactive water into the Pacific, allowing the water to evaporate, or a combination of the two methods. The ministry has also said that a controlled release into the sea was the best option because it would 'stably dilute and disperse' the water from the plant using a method endorsed by the United Nations' Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation. They further said that it would also facilitate the monitoring of radiation levels in the environment. The ministry also noted that the evaporation has been tested and proven method following the 1979 meltdown at Three Mile Island, where it took two years to get rid of 87,000 tons of tritium water.
The proposal comes after the government and the plant operator said that they have been unable to get rid of more than one million tons of radioactive water that has been treated and stored due to opposition from local fishermen and residents fearing further damage to Fukushima's reputation and recovery. Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) also said that the plant has space to store only up to 1.37 million tons and only until the summer of 2022. The 2011 disaster is considered to be the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl and the meltdown at the plant was triggered by a 9.0-magnitude undersea earthquake which impacted Japan's northeast coast.
The earthquake triggered an enormous tsunami which led to the destruction of the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on March 11, 2011. Experts believe that the tanks get in the way of decommissioning work and that they need to free up the space to build storage for debris removed and other radioactive materials as the tanks could spill out of their contents in a major earthquake, tsunami or flood.