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Japan’s nuclear regulator approves release of treated Fukushima water into sea

The planned discharge will be monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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Tokyo: Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has officially approved the plan to discharge the water accumulated at the Fukushima nuclear plant and treated against radioactive contamination after the 2011 meltdown, into the sea next year, Japanese media reported on Friday.

The NRA approved the plan of the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO), to release the water about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) off the Pacific coast in Fukushima Prefecture around next spring, according to the Kyodo news agency.

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The treated water still contains hard-to-remove tritium, a radioactive material, but its level is below the nationally-set maximum and will be diluted further before release. TEPCO plans to start the construction of discharge facilities after it gains permission from localities hosting the plant, Okuma and Futaba. The completion of the discharge of treated water is expected to take several decades, according to the report.

Fishing communities in Japan oppose the plan out of fear it may potentially cause damage to the seafood industry. South Korea has also expressed its concerns with Japan’s plan. China and Russia submitted to Tokyo a joint list of questions concerning potential technical problems but are yet to receive feedback.

The planned discharge will be monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The nuclear disaster at Fukushima occurred on March 11, 2011, when the plant was heavily damaged in a magnitude 9 earthquake in the Pacific Ocean. It triggered a massive tsunami that hit the plant and caused three nuclear reactors to melt down. The accident is regarded as the worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl accident, resulting in a large-scale contamination of local soil and water.

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