In this era of global environmentalism, what do you do with contaminated water from an eight-year-old nuclear disaster? Nothing you can do will be right. On top of that, contamination may already be leaking out anyway.
Japan’s environmental minister, Yoshiaki Harada, claims the only solution for radioactive waste water will be to “release it into the ocean and dilute it. There are no other options.”
However, later that day, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga, announced that the government still wasn’t sure what direction to go in. The method to dispose of the contaminated water hasn’t been decided. “The government would like to make a decision after making thorough discussion,” he insists. Local residents are afraid it’s going to wake up Godzilla.
Eight years ago Japan had it’s worst nuclear disaster. Over the ensuing years, Tokyo Electric poured about one million tons of water over the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant core, to cool it and keep it from melting through the planet. All this contaminated water was put into storage. Now they’re running out of room.
Tokyo Electric Power Company will run out of space by 2022. TEPCO has managed to remove most of the radioactive materials using a filtration process, but the technology to remove tritium isn’t there. The Guardian describes tritium as “mostly harmless,” but government documents leaked to the Telegraph, in 2018, suggested there are still other radioactive elements which would remain above the legal level.
The nuclear power plant was hit by the worst earthquake Japan had ever seen March 11, 2011. Three reactors melted down resulting in over 100,000 people needing to be evacuated. Last year, the first death was reported from those who had been working in the cleanup.
The neighbors are worried that dumping will indeed happen. The government minister for South Korean environmental affairs, Kwon Se-jung met with Tomofumi Nishinaga, head of economic affairs at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul last month.
“The South Korean government is well aware of the impact of the treatment of the contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant on the health and safety of the people of both countries, and to the entire nation,” a South Korean press release stated.
The dumping scheme isn’t sitting well with local fishing groups either. Fishing is their livelihood. You contaminate the fish, you kill your people. One particular radionuclide, strontium, collects in bones and teeth and causes bone cancer and leukemia.
Objection to the minister’s comments came quickly. Tetsu Nozaki, head of the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations, characterized Harada’s comments as “thoughtless, in light of his position,” and suggested calm discussion was in order, reported the Japan Times. Also, a fishery representative said “safety measures we have taken and our sales promotion efforts would be shattered instantly, and our businesses will be destroyed.”
South Korea was also worried about their seafood as well. A senior Greenpeace nuclear representative emailed Reuters that the Japanese government “must commit to the only environmentally acceptable option for managing this water crisis which is long term storage and processing to remove radioactivity, including tritium.”
Fans of old movies are well aware that Godzilla is a giant amphibious reptile from the Permian period that feeds on Earth surface radiation then retreats deep underwater. If these aren’t the conditions to bring him out, nobody knows what will.
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