The head company responsible for cleaning up the Fukushima disaster plans on dumping 580 barrels of water tainted with tritium — a radioactive form of hydrogen — into the Pacific Ocean.
Though it is well-established that the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster is a detriment to human health, wildlife and the environment, the head company responsible for the Fukushima clean-operation, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), is intent on dumping water tainted with tritium — a radioactive form of hydrogen — into the Pacific Ocean. Presently, there are about 580 barrels of the radiative water which were used to cool the nuclear plant’s damaged reactors.
According to The Independent, the company’s decision to dump tainted water from Fukushima’s triple meltdown has outraged locals and citizens around the globe. Despite the fierce outcry, Takashi Kawamura, chairman of TEPCO, declared: “The decision has already been made.” However, TEPCO is not legally allowed to release the nearly 777,000 tons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean until the government gives the final approval. “We cannot keep going if we do not have the support of the state,” said Mr. Kawamura.
Among those infuriated by the proposal to dump tritium-tainted water into the ocean are fishermen, who say the decision will affect their livelihoods. Kanji Tachiya, head of a local fishermen’s cooperative, for instance, told the press: “Releasing (tritium) into the sea will create a new wave of unfounded rumors, making our efforts all for naught.”
TEPCO claims tritium is of little danger to humans unless exposed to high quantities. Said NRA chairman Tanaka, the chemical is “so weak in its radioactivity it won’t penetrate plastic wrapping.” Oceanagrapher Simon Boxall, who works at the University of Southhampton, agreed. He told The Guardian, “In the broad scale of things, if they do end up putting the material in the Pacific, it will have minimal effect on an ocean basin scale.”
Whether or not the water harms wildlife is questionable, but of more concern, it seems, to environmental activists is the potential that similar practices may become more common. “They say that it will be safe because the ocean is large so it will be diluted, but that sets a precedent that can be copied, essentially permitting anyone to dump nuclear waste into our seas,” said Aileen Mioko-Smith of Green Action Japan. Considering radiation from Fukushima crippled two robots in the past, some believe there is cause for concern.
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