Japan is still dealing with the effects of the devastating Fukushima meltdown in 2011, triggered when a tsunami struck the nuclear power plant.
Over one million tons of contaminated water is stored at the site and it’s believed that there won’t be any space for it soon. To remedy the issue, Japan’s government has decided that the operator of the plant should dump it directly into the Pacific Ocean. A formal announcement is set to be made next week.
Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) has struggled to manage the buildup of groundwater, which becomes contaminated when mixed with water used to prevent the damaged reactor cores from melting.
The release itself is expected to take around two years to prepare, since the site’s radioactive water needs to first pass through a filtration process before being diluted with seawater and released into the ocean. Tokyo Electric plans to remove all radioactive particles from the water before dumping it.
The fishing industry in Fukushima Prefecture, already struggling since the nuclear meltdown in 2011, is expected to suffer from the release of the contaminated water.
A version of this article was previously published on September 10, 2019, and was updated on October 16, 2020, with more information.