Tuesday marks three years since an earthquake and tsunami in Japan led to the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. After a year in which leaks of contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant made headlines, here are some questions and answers on where the issue stands:
Q: Is the water problem fixed?
A: Not yet. A large amount of groundwater keeps flowing under reactors that suffered meltdowns, creating about 400 metric tons a day of highly contaminated water. The existing water cleaning system removes almost all radioactive cesium from it, but other radioactive materials remain. A new water cleaning system called ALPS has been proved in a laboratory to remove all radioactive materials except tritium, which is less harmful, but ALPS has not yet worked fully at the site. Getting it to do so is a top priority for Tepco.
Q: Even if the new water cleanser works, is it safe to dump water with tritium?
A: Tritium exists naturally, and nuclear power facilities across the world discharge tritium water into the environment. The International Atomic Energy Agency recommended late last year that Tepco consider discharging tritium water in a controlled way as an option so it can focus on other issues that pose bigger risks. However, local fishermen are adamantly opposed. They have already suffered huge damage to their business and fear a further hit to the reputation of Fukushima fish.
To read more: http://savethewater.org/2014/03/21/fukushima-watch-qa-contaminated-water/