Watchdog says Fukushima water release unavoidable
By Shingo Ito, AFPTOKYO -- Japan's nuclear watchdog chief said Monday that contaminated water from the ruined Fukushima nuclear plant must be released into the ocean eventually, warning the plant remains fragile with many risks.
September 3, 2013, 12:05 am TWN
Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, said operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) cannot store huge amounts of coolant water at the plant indefinitely.
“I'm afraid that dumping or releasing the water into the sea is unavoidable” after it is purified to levels recognized as safe under international standards, Tanaka told a news conference.
TEPCO has long struggled to deal with the massive amounts of water used to cool reactors that went into meltdown after being struck by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
Neighboring countries and local fishermen have expressed concern at the mooted release from the plant, where contaminated water was already believed to have escaped into sea.
“The situation at Fukushima is changing everyday,” Tanaka said.
“Fukushima Daiichi has various risks,” he added. “The accident has yet to be settled down.”
The clean-up at the plant has been hit by a series of mishaps that have cast doubt on the utility's ability to contain the world's worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.
On Sunday the company said it had found highly radioactive water dripping from a pipe connecting two coolant tanks at one of four radiation hotspots.
Denouncing the firm's “careless management” of contaminated water, Tanaka said: “We need to give them very strict instructions.”
The Sankei Shimbun reported on Monday that prosecutors had decided to drop criminal charges against former prime minister Naoto Kan, government officials and TEPCO executives over their roles in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.
Prosecutors had examined the case after local residents filed criminal complaints, but could not find enough evidence to show negligence of duty, the daily said, adding that the decision may be announced later this week.