Please stop pouring the wrong radioactive water into the sea, Fukushima operator told

Government takes TEPCO to task for caesium absorption tower incident

Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry minister has called on the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) to improve its management of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant after a leak was discovered earlier this month.

Minister Ken Saito this week revealed that the ministry had received concerns about the power plant's safety.

"Even a single mistake could cause us to lose the trust of the local community and society, so I would like TEPCO to take into account the concerns and worries of the local community and work with the utmost sense of urgency," pleaded Saito.

"TEPCO has indicated measures to prevent recurrence, but tomorrow I will call on TEPCO President Kobayakawa to take all possible measures to ensure further safety, including thorough implementation of preventive measures, as a management priority," he added.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on February 7, 5.5 cubic metres of water containing radioactive materials leaked from a caesium absorption tower at the plant. The root cause of the leak was a valve that was left open during cleaning work at the absorption tower.

"The leaked water was from the system filtering water as part of the ongoing decommissioning activities at the site. The event is not related to the discharge of the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) treated water," explained the IAEA.

TEPCO told the org that there were no significant fluctuations in radiation measurements recorded at the site, but the leak may have resulted in minor contamination to the soil around the absorption tower.

Hong Kong, which expressed concern over the leak, has banned certain products originating from Japan in protest over the release of Fukushima wastewater, and regularly monitors the radiation levels in food samples and local waters. On Tuesday the territory government stated that no anomaly had been detected to date.

The release of wastewaters from the Fukushima plant into the ocean began in August 2023. The Fukushima plant requires about 100 cubic metres of water per day to keep the installation cool. In cooling a reactor, water is exposed to 64 radioactive elements with a half life ranging from negligible amounts of time to 5,000 years.

The ALPS is said to remove 62 of the 64 radionuclides in the water, leaving just carbon-14 and tritium behind. The treated water is then discharged into the ocean.

TEPCO has claimed the amount of tritium equates to 1,500 becquerels per liter – the amount set as a maximum concentration for discharge by the Japanese government. It equates to one-seventh of the amount designated as suitable for drinking by the World Health Organization. ®

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