Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – The Land of Sakura aka Japan is currently implementing a policy of disposing of Nuclear Power Plant (PLTN) waste into the sea which has been implemented since August 2023.
More specifically, Japan has discharged wastewater from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant which was destroyed last Thursday (24/8/2023).
More than one million metric tons of treated radioactive water from nuclear power plants is discharged into the Pacific Ocean. This is said to be a process that will take decades to complete.
The water was distilled after it became contaminated by contact with fuel rods in the reactor, which was destroyed by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The tanks at the site hold about 1.3 million tons of water, enough to fill 500 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
According to a BBC report, since the 2011 tsunami disaster the utility company in charge of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), has been pumping water to cool the fuel rods of the Fukushima nuclear reactor. This means that every day the factory produces contaminated water, which is stored in large tanks.
More than 1,000 tanks have been filled, and Japan says it needs the land occupied by the tanks to build a new facility to safely deactivate the power plant. They also expressed fear that the tanks could collapse in the event of a natural disaster.
Discharging treated wastewater into the sea is a routine practice for nuclear power plants, although critics point out that the amount of waste generated from Fukushima is on a much larger scale and is unprecedented.
Tepco filters Fukushima’s water through an Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS), which reduces most radioactive substances to acceptable safety standards, apart from tritium and carbon-14. They filtered the contaminated water to remove the isotopes, leaving only tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that is difficult to separate.
Tritium and carbon-14 are radioactive forms of hydrogen and carbon, respectively, and are difficult to separate from water. They are abundant in the natural environment, water and even in humans, because they form in the Earth’s atmosphere and can enter the water cycle.
Both emit very low levels of radiation, but can pose a risk if consumed in large quantities. Tepco will also dilute the water until tritium levels fall below regulatory limits before pumping it into the sea from a site on Tokyo’s north coast.
Water containing tritium is routinely removed from nuclear power plants around the world, and authorities support treating Fukushima’s water in this way.
According to a 2014 Scientific American article, tritium is considered relatively harmless because its radiation is not energetic enough to penetrate human skin. If ingested in levels above the water content released, this can increase the risk of cancer.
Tepco and the Japanese government have conducted studies showing that discharged water poses little risk to humans and marine life. Many scientists also support the plan.
The water removal will take decades to complete along with the planned closure of the factory.
The Japanese government says the final level of tritium – about 1,500 becquerel per liter – is much safer than the levels required by regulators for the disposal of nuclear waste, or by the World Health Organization for drinking water. Tepco says the carbon-14 grade will also meet the standard.
Well, the United Nations Allows Japan to Dispose of Nuclear Waste into the Sea