Fukushima localities speak out against dumping radioactive water in sea
Seventeen out of 59 municipal assemblies in Fukushima Prefecture have either passed a resolution or issued a statement opposing the discharge into the Pacific Ocean of treated radioactive water currently stored at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, a Fukushima Minpo survey has shown. The resolutions and statements also described measures taken by the central government as inadequate to combat reputational damage to food and fishery goods produced in Fukushima Prefecture, and the hope that local voices will be reflected in Tokyo’s decision on whether to release the tritium-tainted water into the sea. Fukushima Minpo conducted a survey of assemblies in the prefecture’s 59 cities, towns and villages from June 18 to June 24. The assembly for the town of Namie, close to where the nuclear power plant is located, adopted a resolution that opposed the release of the radioactive water into the sea, while assemblies from the town of Miharu and village of Nishigo both issued statements opposing both sea discharge and evaporation as methods for disposing of the water. Many municipal assemblies have urged the central government to instead come up with measures involving long-term storage of the contaminated water in tanks and to fight rumors related to Fukushima produce. Some assemblies said deliberations over issuing similar resolutions or statements were ongoing. Assemblies in the cities of Minamisoma and Date are still deliberating on the topic, while 11 others said they were planning to discuss it in the future, indicating a strong possibility that more than half of authorities either had already or were likely to adopt some kind of statement on the matter. In February, a government panel tasked with assessing how to deal with the tanks endlessly being filled with radioactive water said releasing the liquid into the sea or evaporating it were “realistic options.” It also recommended that dumping the contaminated water into the sea was technically more feasible. Resolutions and statements have been issued by local assemblies since that time, during their regular assembly sessions in March and June. Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc., the plant operator, projects that the tanks at the Fukushima No. 1 plant will reach capacity in the summer of 2022. The Nuclear Regulation Authority has said it needs about two years to prepare for the water to be released into the sea, fueling speculation that the central government will make a final decision this summer. Ministers with responsibility for the issue have repeatedly said they cannot shelve the decision. In its recommendation, the panel said the government needed to “listen thoroughly to the diverse opinions of relevant parties” before making the decision. Government sources have said it will look into doing so, but it is unclear how those opinions would affect the decision.