Tokyo Electric Power Co Incorporated (TYO:9501), or TEPCO, operator of the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, is planning to dump contaminated groundwater from the plant’s drainage wells directly into the ocean after decontaminating it, Agence France-Presse reported Thursday, citing company officials.
Currently, TEPCO is reportedly using another system called ground bypass, which pumps untainted groundwater into the ocean before it mixes with toxic water generated in the process of cooling the reactors. The toxic water is then stored in hundreds of on-site tanks. However, the company is reportedly running out of space to store the radioactive water and is also struggling to prevent it from seeping into the ocean.
The new plan aims to pump the contaminated water into a modernized purification system and release it back into the Pacific Ocean, a company spokesperson said Thursday, adding that this would drastically cut down the amount of toxic water flowing under the plant.
"But we know we have to get an agreement from the relevant government authorities, the prefecture and local fishing unions," the spokesperson reportedly said.
However, several environmental activists raised concerns over the plan, questioning the effectiveness of the proposed purification system.
"I also wonder if TEPCO has a backup plan for the worst case scenario, such as the purification facility not working effectively," Hisayo Takada from Greenpeace Japan told AFP.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant suffered extensive damage in an earthquake and ensuing tsunami in March 2011. Since then, workers at the plant have been fighting to control the leak of radioactive water from three of the plant’s six nuclear reactors that suffered meltdowns.