TOKYO – A plan to release radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station into the Pacific Ocean has been approved by Japan's nuclear authority.
Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) said on Wednesday that the plan will be officially approved once public opinions on the topic are heard.
The operator of the stricken plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO), will need permission from the communities that host the nuclear power complex before building of the discharge facilities can commence.
A major earthquake and ensuing tsunami knocked off the Fukushima Daiichi plant's key cooling operations in 2011, triggering a nuclear crisis not seen since Chernobyl in 1988.
Water piped in to cool melted reactor fuel has accumulated at the complex since then, combining with precipitation and groundwater. The polluted water contains radioactive tritium, and the besieged site's water supply will soon be exhausted.
The government intends to dump the radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean through a tunnel under the seabed, around 1 kilometre from the crippled facility. Local fisheries and the international community are concerned about the contentious proposal, which is set to begin in the spring of 2023.
The Japanese fishing industry has spoken out against the initiative, claiming that it will almost surely tarnish the industry's already tarnished reputation.