As you likely remember, back in 2011, the east coast of Japan was clobbered by a tsunami that led to one of the worst nuclear disasters in history. The tsunami effectively wrecked the country’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, causing a meltdown and the release of radioactive materials into the ocean. Over the years, thousands of people have been working to decontaminate the area and curtail the leakage.
Now, 8 years post-disaster, the government has run into a massive storage problem. According to CNN, utility operator Tokyo Electric (TEPCO) has pumped in tens of thousands of water into the damaged plant in order to cool its fuel cores. Once the water is used, and contaminated with a sh*t-ton of radioactive material, it’s put into storage. Over a million tons of wastewater have been put away over the years.
Unfortunately, the utility company says it’ll run out of room to house the polluted water by 2022. According to Japan’s environment minister Yoshiaki Harada, their only small-space solution, at the moment, is to “release it into the ocean and dilute it.” Those were his exact words.
Understandably, some of Japan’s neighbors are worried about the possibility of a radioactive dump affecting ocean health. Last month, South Korea’s government minister for environmental affairs met with Japan’s head of economic affairs to discuss to the release of wastewater into the ocean, afterwards suggesting that the two countries work in conjunction to figure out a plan that doesn’t compromise the health of the ocean or countries’ residents.
In light of the Olympics coming to Tokyo in 2020, there’s been a lot of pressure put on Japan to deal with the issue before Olympians (your favorite surfers included) head to the country’s coastline.
Nothing has been officially decided by Japan’s government just yet. Info on where, when and how much of the tainted crud water could be spilled into the ocean remains unclear. Why there seems to be “no other options” to the predicament, according to Japan’s environment minister, also remains unclear.
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