Treated water is safer than world standards, essential for decommissioning
Washington, D.C. – The American Nuclear Society (ANS) supports the start of Japan’s controlled release of re-treated, diluted tritium wastewater into the sea from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), which sustained damage in the aftermath of a 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The discharge of water treated by the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) and stored at the Fukushima Daiichi NPP follows the recommendations of a 2020 report by an independent subcommittee of technical experts advising the Government of Japan. The report recommended Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) re-treat ALPS-treated wastewater before dilution and release into the ocean over an extended period.
The ALPS pumping and filtration system removes nuclides from the water. Once processed, ALPS-treated water still contains a low concentration of tritium, a naturally occurring radioactive isotope of hydrogen, which is found in all water. The tritium levels in the ALPS-treated water are less than 1/40th of Japan’s regulatory standards and less than 1/7th of the World Health Organization’s drinking water quality guidelines.
After a two-year comprehensive review, the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued on July 4 a favorable independent assessment of TEPCO’s water release strategy. The IAEA concluded that Japan’s plan is consistent with international safety standards and that the water release will have a negligible radiological impact on people and the environment.
Statement from Ken Petersen, 2023-24 President of ANS:
“As the voice for over 10,000 nuclear scientists and technologists around the world, the American Nuclear Society supports the decision to release the Fukushima Daiichi wastewater. Extensive analysis by the science and safety community confirms that release poses no radiological threat to public health or the environment. The IAEA-endorsed water release into the sea is safe and essential for the cleanup and decommissioning of Japan’s tsunami-damaged nuclear power plant.
Limited storage capacity at Fukushima Daiichi necessitated today’s planned water release. The discharge frees up much-needed space at Fukushima Daiichi and makes room for decommissioning activities to finally begin. Without the water release, Fukushima Daiichi’s treated water storage tanks would have reached full capacity in early 2024 and decommissioning activities would have been further delayed.
All nuclear power plants emit tritium every day into rivers and oceans, including the nuclear power plants of Japan’s neighbors. Tritium in the discharged water has been treated and diluted to levels safer than international standards. The concentration levels of tritium are now so diluted in Fukushima Daichi’s treated water that the radioactivity of the discharged water will be barely detectable above the natural background levels of the ocean. The amounts of other nuclides remaining in the re-treated water are well within regulatory standards. The slow release of the treated water into the ocean will further dilute these concentrations.”
About: Established in 1954, the American Nuclear Society (ANS) is an international professional organization of engineers and scientists devoted to the peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology. Its more than 10,000 members represent government, academia, research laboratories, medical facilities, and private industry. ANS’s mission is to advance, foster, and spur the development and application of nuclear science, engineering, and technology to benefit society.
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