Tokyo: Tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will apply for the approval of a facility which will dump toxic groundwater into the Pacific Ocean after removing almost all radioactive materials from it, plant officials said today.
The application by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), is expected to be filed with the Secretariat of the Nuclear Regulation Authority soon after the regional utility briefs local government officials on the plan, the sources said.
Under the plan, TEPCO hopes to lay pipes at the crippled nuclear complex to transport the groundwater to a seaport within the premises after removing nearly all radioactive materials from the water.
But it says the water will not be dumped into the Pacific unless local consent is obtained.
It would be the first time the utility had released into the sea groundwater that is treated but had previously been tainted with radioactive materials near reactor buildings at the plant.
Local fishermen are yet to be formally briefed on the plan, but are likely to react sharply as the move may increase consumer concerns over marine products.
About 400 tons of groundwater are believed to be seeping into reactor buildings each day and mixing with toxic water generated in the process of cooling the reactors that suffered meltdowns in the nuclear disaster in 2011.
The amount of toxic water can be reduced to some 200 tons each day with the new facility, utility sources said, noting that TEPCO would dump the toxic water after removing almost all radioactive materials.
The number of wells at the power plant was 57 before the nuclear disaster on March 11, 2011, which was triggered when a powerful earthquake and following tsunami crippled the seaside plant in Fukushima Prefecture in Japan`s northeast.
Most of the wells were damaged by the disaster. But TEPCO restored 27 wells and dug 15 new wells to control the level of toxic water underground.
Radioactive substances, such as tritium and cesium, have been detected in some water samples from the wells.
TEPCO says it aims to clean the water to a level that would do no harm to the environment, but tritium will remain untreated as a water treatment facility at the plant is not capable of removing the substance. (Kyodo)