Fukushima Nuclear Plant to Release Wastewater into Pacific Ocean

Jun 29, 2023

In spite of protests from local and international groups, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO) is getting ready to release large amounts of radioactive wastewater into the Pacific Ocean. This water comes from Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant . If the plan is approved, TEPCO will start as early as next week.  

An earthquake and a tsunami damaged the plant in 2011. It resulted in one of the worst meltdowns in history. Radioactive particles contaminated the cooling water of three reactors. That water has leaked over the past twelve years. TEPCO has collected it in more than a thousand tanks on site. Those tanks will be full in early 2024.  

TEPCO has said that the water has been treated. Now their plan is to let it out slowly over time. This means it will be so diluted that it will not be harmful, they stated. Local fishermen do not like this idea. They argue that their business will be hurt. China’s Foreign Ministry released a statement telling Japan to “stop forcibly promoting the ocean discharge plan." They want them to get rid of the water in a safe way. They also want them to let other countries observe. 

Some support TEPCO’s plan. Jim Smith is an environmental scientist. He thinks letting the water out is not risky. “I always hesitate to say (the risk is) zero, but close to zero,” he told Scientific American.  He believes that another earthquake would be more dangerous.    

Photo from Reuters.

Reflect: What are some different ways we can safely manage and dispose of hazardous waste?

Inspectors from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings would most likely _______ that the risk of releasing the wastewater is small compared to the risk of another earthquake or a typhoon causing a leak of a tank. (Common Core RI.5.9; RI.6.9)
a. strongly disagree
b. disagree
c. neither agree nor disagree
d. agree
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