Nuclear regulator approves Fukushima Daiichi's treated water release plan

NHK -- May 19
Japan's nuclear regulator has approved a plan to release treated water from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the ocean.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company drew up the plan in line with a decision by the government.

At a meeting on Wednesday, members of the authority concluded they could find no problems in the submitted document. Their review included how to check the levels of tritium and other substances before releasing treated water into the sea. They also discussed effects on the surrounding environment and people.

The authority will invite opinions from the public for about a month before it gives the operator official permission.

Reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant suffered meltdowns in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

Water used to cool the molten nuclear fuel mixes with rain and groundwater. It is treated to remove most of the radioactive materials, but the filtered water still contains tritium.

The government plans to dilute treated water to levels below national regulations and start releasing it from around next spring, saying the plant no longer can store the treated water accumulating in tanks.

TEPCO began work last December on construction of an undersea tunnel to be used for the release of treated water.

It also plans to build a facility to dilute treated water after winning approval from Fukushima Prefecture and the plant's host municipalities. The utility hopes all the work will be completed around April, next year.

But concerns persist among those in the local fishing industry about potential reputational damage for products from the region.