Japan may decide when to release Fukushima water on Aug. 22

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will meet with his ministers Tuesday to discuss when to release treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea, a government source said Saturday, amid opposition from local fishermen and some neighboring countries.

Kishida will visit Fukushima Prefecture on Sunday to inspect the complex, he said Friday in Washington after holding a trilateral summit with the United States and South Korea.

“I believe we have reached the final stage where the government should make a decision based on comprehensive consideration” of issues such as minimizing the impact on fisheries as much as possible, he told reporters.

Japan is considering beginning the release of water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant between late August and early September, government sources said earlier.

Massive amounts of contaminated water have been generated in the process of cooling melted reactor fuel after the plant was devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The water has been kept in tanks after going through the advanced liquid processing system that removes most radionuclides except tritium, but the storage vessels are nearing capacity. Tritium is known to be less harmful than other radioactive materials, such as cesium and strontium.

Local fishermen and some neighboring countries remain opposed to the plan, with China introducing blanket radiation testing on Japanese seafood.

As of late July, about 1.34 million tons of treated water was stored in tanks at the Fukushima nuclear complex, reaching 98 percent of storage capacity, according to the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

The treated water with trace amounts of tritium will be diluted to one-40th of the concentration permitted under Japanese safety standards before being released via an underwater tunnel 1 kilometer off the power plant.

During his visit to Fukushima, Kishida will inspect the facilities and is also likely to meet with representatives of fisheries associations that have expressed concerns about the potential reputational damage to their seafood products.

The government has been considering when to release the water since the International Atomic Energy Agency said in its final report last month that the planned discharge would comply with global safety standards.

Source KYODO