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Thursday, 13 August 2015

Fukushima fishermen give nod to TEPCO’s plan to release treated water into sea

Fisherman operating in waters close to the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant formally approved a plan by plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. to discharge radioactive groundwater into the ocean after decontamination treatment.

The Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations gave the green light to TEPCO's “subdrain plan” at an extraordinary meeting on Aug. 11.

TEPCO is expected to start discharging treated water as early as next month.

It will pump contaminated groundwater accumulating in areas around reactors damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster for processing and then release it into the sea.

The fishermen's federation submitted a written request to the central government and TEPCO setting certain conditions for giving its approval to the subdrain plan. It warned the utility against discharging highly radioactive water inside the reactor buildings even after decontamination treatment and called for strict monitoring of standards for the release of water. It also insisted on compensation in the event the local fishing industry suffers losses as a result of groundless rumors.

Many fishermen initially opposed the TEPCO plan as processed radioactive water had never been discharged into the ocean.

TEPCO’s delay in disclosing the leakage of radioactive water into the sea each time it rained heavily also hampered its negotiations with local fishermen as it undermined their confidence in the company. The matter only came to light in February.

TEPCO then made an intensive effort to explain the subdrain plan would help reduce the flow of contaminated underground water into the ocean. This convinced the prefectural fishermen's federation that the work could drastically decrease radiation levels in nearby waters, prompting it sign off on the plan.

Source: Asahi Shimbun

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