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Japan: Fukushima water to be released starting ‘spring or summer’


Japan’s government gave its latest estimate regarding when it planned to release treated but still radioactive water at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. At a cabinet meeting Friday, Japan’s government said it would happen “around this spring or summer.” The estimate appeared to be a slight delay from the original plan, which had the Fukushima water release set firmly for the spring.

That original plan, announced in April 2021, allowed for the release of more than 1 million tons of wastewater into the sea. Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO), the plant’s operator, said the water is hampering the plant’s decommissioning and is at risk of leaking in the event of a major earthquake or tsunami.

The water is currently being stored in about 1,000 tanks at the plant. The current plan is for TEPCO to transport the treated water through a pipeline from the tanks to a coastal facility, where it will be diluted with seawater and sent through an undersea tunnel to an offshore outlet.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters Friday the government has adopted a revised action plan, which includes enhanced efforts to ensure safety and measures to financially support the local fishing industry. TEPCO has also acknowledged the possibility of rough winter weather and sea conditions delaying the tunnel construction progress.

“As the party responsible for the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Accident, TEPCO will strive to rebuild trust — which is the foundation of our business — and fulfill our responsibility to ‘balance recovery with decommissioning’ by ensuring the safety and quality of treated water countermeasures and decommissioning at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station,” TEPCO said in a statement Friday.

The plan has met stiff resistance from local fishing unions over the impact the water release may have on their livelihoods. Countries including South Korea and China have voiced concerns as well.

“The discharge of nuclear-contaminated water is not a private matter for Japan,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said last week. “We once again urge Japan to pay attention to the legitimate and reasonable demands of the international community, fully consult with its neighboring countries, Pacific island countries and other stakeholders and relevant international agencies, and effectively dispose of the water in an open, transparent, scientific and safe manner.”

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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