In a world where the UN is pressuring the west (but oddly not China) to drastically lower emissions to save the world from global warming, where ESG investing is the hottest new trend in the investment universe, it's remarkable that the government of Japan would do something so retrograde as to dump treated wastewater from the ruined Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant off shore.
TEPCO has finally settled on a plan to get rid of the nuclear wastewater that has been building up in the ruined reactors of the nuclear power plant at Fukushima Daiichi. The utility will construct an underwater pipeline 1 kilometer long to dump the water directly from the ruins of reactor No. 1 into the Pacific Ocean, where experts believe currents will quickly dilute it and carry it away.
The undersea tunnel will be constructed by hollowing out bedrock on the seabed near the No. 5 reactor at the Fukushima plant, and will stretch 1km east to the sea, according to the Japan Times.
The news, which was reported Tuesday, isn't exactly a surprise. TEPCO, the Japanese utility tasked with overseeing the cleanup of the plant, which became the epicenter of a major nuclear disaster when an earthquake and ensuing tsunami struck the plant, causing three reactors to melt down. Aside from Chernobyl, Fukushima is the only nuclear incident to earn a Level 7 designation on the International Nuclear Event Scale.
According to Nikkei, TEPCO is planning to officially announce the decision Wednesday. The final plan will then be presented to Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority next month for review. The fishing industry in the area is understandably opposed to the measure, but few analysts expect their resistance to scuttle the plan, given the lack of alternatives for disposing of the radioactive wastewater.
Since the Japanese government first approved the plan in April, TEPCO has explored whether it should release the water along the shore, or further out at sea.
The plan to dump it further from shore eventually won out, as experts decided that this strategy had a better chance of seeing the wastewater flushed away by Ocean currents (apparently, the flow of the currents can greatly complicate the dumping).
Innkeepers and other business operators in Fukushima were also in favor of discharging the wastewater far enough away to prevent reputational damage (or any potential blowback). Before releasing the wastewater, TEPCO plans to remove as much radioactive material as it can, then dilute what remains with at least 100 parts of seawater.
Before dumping the water, TEPCO says it will remove as much radioactive material as it can, then dilute whatever is left with 100 parts of seawater.
To be sure, Japan's fishermen aren't the only party opposed to the plan. Back in April, China slammed Japan's plans to dump the wastewater in the Pacific, even going so far as to threaten retaliation.
Pumping the water out of (at least one) the rectors is an important step toward cleaning up Fukushima Daiichi, but the effort remains a long way from finished. Last year, TEPCO outlined a 44-year plan to decommission reactor No. 2.
It all but guarantees that Japan will be dealing with the cleanup of the disaster at Fukushima for some time. It might not even be finished by the time Japan hosts its next Olympics.