TOKYO -(MarketWatch)- Tokyo Electric Power Co. said it is considering releasing into the Pacific Ocean low-level radioactive water now stored in tanks at the premises of its crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant as the storage capacity may run short by March next year, Kyodo News reported Thursday.
The plant operator known as Tepco said that the water would be released only after it clears the country’s legal concentration limit of radioactive substances, including cesium and strontium, but a fisheries group immediately expressed strong concerns about the idea.
The plant has been plagued with highly radioactive water accumulating inside reactor turbine buildings as a result of the continuing injection of water to cool the stricken Nos. 1 to 3 reactors.
The water is currently recycled as a coolant after reducing its radioactive level through a water processing facility, installed after the plant was hit by the March 11 megaquake and tsunami.
But as about 200 to 500 tons of groundwater a day flows into the reactor turbine buildings, the amount of water that is processed has exceeded that needed for injection into the reactors, according to Tepco spokesman Junichi Matsumoto.
He said that the capacity of tanks installed at the plant’s premises is expected to total 15.5 tons, but there is a possibility that the capacity would fall short possibly by early March.
“We cannot keep on increasing the number of tanks in the next year or two. So we are considering the possibility of releasing water into the sea,” Matsumoto told a press conference.
The water processing facility reduces the amount of radioactive cesium, but does not remove radioactive strontium, which tends to accumulate in bones and is feared to cause bone cancer and leukemia.
Tepco has not only accidentally released highly radioactive water into the sea after the nuclear crisis, but also intentionally dumped low level radioactive water as an emergency measure in April, drawing concerns from neighboring countries.
As another accidental case, Tepco said Tuesday that around 150 liters of processed water has flowed into the sea, saying that the water is estimated to contain strontium.