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Japan to continue releasing Fukushima radioactive water into ocean for next 30 years

Radioactive wastewater in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant.  Credit: Arirang News.

Japan started to release some of the wastewater from the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean.

The devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011 caused water within the plant to be contaminated, and the discharge of more than one million metric tonnes of wastewater, is expected to take decades.

The first batch of around 1-point-3 million tons of stored wastewater was discharged into the Pacific Ocean on Thursday.

A first step toward decommissioning the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company held a press conference on Thursday and said 200 to 210 tons of wastewater will be released by Thursday midnight.

From Friday, the company plans to release around 460 tons in a 24-hour window. Ahead of the release, Japan uses a filtering system called Multi-nuclide Removal Facility, also known as ALPS.

The Japanese government says ALPS can bring down all radioactive substances to below government standards except tritium. Ahead of the release, TEPCO officials also announced the tritium concentration levels to the public. They conducted a check on Tuesday by mixing a liter of contaminated water with 12-hundred tons of seawater.

Japanese officials said the tritium concentration level was 43 to 63 becquerels per liter, far below a self-designated standard of 1,500 becquerels per liter. With the help of ALPS, Japanese officials hope to complete the discharge over the next 30 years. Three decades is still a long time, so securing safety will be a challenge. Another big hurdle is getting rid of the fuel debris inside some of the reactors.

The highly radioactive debris is a mixture of melted nuclear fuel and structures surrounding it. They were found on the floors of reactors number one to three after the 2011 disaster.

Even experts in Japan are saying that getting rid of those , will be a challenge. There are around 880 known tons of radioactive debris.

Japan's Asahi Shimbun said not a gram of it has been taken out as of this March. Japan is working on developing robots that can do the job, but it hasn't been easy.

Even with the release of the first batch of wastewater, Japan still has many tough challenges to overcome.

Source: Kim Jung-sil, Arirang News.

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