Fukushima cleanup continues over six years after the 2011 disaster – and the country hasn’t yet decided what to do with one million metric tons of radioactive water currently stored at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in 900 big tanks. Some nuclear experts advising the government have said the water should be slowly released into the Pacific Ocean. But local fishermen are afraid consumers won’t purchase fish caught in the region if that happens – and their industry is still struggling to rebuild after the tsunami.


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Multiple tests have shown most kinds of fish caught near Fukushima are safe to consume. But diners are still hesitant to eat it, and fishermen fear if radioactive water is released, people won’t buy the fish at all. But the radioactive water isn’t really that safe in the tanks – if another tsunami or major earthquake hit, all that water could spill.

Related: Fukushima radiation levels at highest since 2011 disaster

The water has been treated, and all radioactive elements but tritium have been removed. Experts say tritium is safe in small quantities, but if disaster should strike again, the spill of water would likely be uncontrolled.

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And the amount of radioactive water at Fukushima increases daily by 150 metric tons. Cooling water must be pumped into the reactors to prevent them from overheating, and that water picks up radioactivity. It then seeps out of damaged containment chambers and collects in the basements, where it mixes with groundwater that comes in via reactor building cracks. 210 metric tons of this water can be treated and reused as cooling water. But 150 metric tons is put in tanks.

Other nuclear plants have been allowed to release radioactive tritium water, according to The Independent. But the process can take years. Last year, a government panel recommended Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), which owns the Fukushima plant, dilute the water to around 50 times and release around 400 metric tons into the sea every day – that process would likely take nearly a decade. Other people have said Tepco should wait to release the radioactive water until 2023, when half the tritium present when disaster struck will have naturally disappeared.

Via The Independent

Images via IAEA Imagebank on Flickr (1,2)