Tepco seeks approval for sea release of tainted water from Fukushima nuclear plant

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (Tepco) filed Tuesday for regulatory approval of its plan to release treated radioactive water from its stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The company will begin preparations in earnest if the Nuclear Regulation Authority approves the plan.

Tepco needs to obtain NRA approvals for designs and operational policies for equipment needed to dismantle the plant, where an unprecedented triple meltdown occurred after the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

In August this year, Tepco announced a plan to release the treated water into the sea about 1 kilometer offshore from the Fukushima No. 1 plant, through a newly built undersea tunnel, after diluting it over 100 times with seawater.

The dilution is designed to lower the concentration of tritium in the water, which cannot be removed with available technology, to less than one-fortieth of the state-set safety standard. The exit of the tunnel will be created in an area where fishing is not conducted.

Regarding the NRA’s examination of the water release plan, Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa last week said, “We don’t think there will be significant technical difficulties, so it will not take a long time.”

The volume of water contaminated with radioactive substances at the plant is increasing as Tepco continues to cool nuclear fuel debris at the damaged reactors.

The water is processed before being stored in tanks, but the equipment used to treat it cannot remove tritium, a radioactive substance.

In April, the government decided to release the water into the sea. But local parties, including fishers and local governments, are strongly opposed.

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