Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior sailing past the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, five years after the plant's accident. (Photo: Christian Åslund/Greenpeace)

Plan to Release Radioactive Fukushima Wastewater Into Pacific Ocean Panned by Critics

"Another reason to not build nuclear power plants."

Julia Conley

The far-reaching dangers of nuclear power were on full display Tuesday as Japan's environmental minister recommended releasing more than one million tons of radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi plant into the Pacific Ocean nearly a decade after a tsunami caused a meltdown at the coastal facility.

"There are no other options" other than dumping the water into the ocean and diluting it, Yoshiaki Harada said at a news conference in Tokyo.

Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga disputed Harada's claim, saying the government has not settled on a method of disposing of the wastewater. Other options include vaporizing the water and storing it on land.

But critics on social media said the suggestion of pouring contaminated water into the Pacific is more than enough evidence that the risks associated with nuclear power are too great to continue running plants like Fukushima.

The wastewater has been stored in tanks at Fukushima since the 2011 tsunami, when a meltdown at the plant forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.

For years since the disaster, the plant has pumped tens of thousands of tons of water to help cool its damaged reactor cores and keep them from melting. After the water is used and contaminated with radionuclides and radioactive isotopes, it is stored in the tanks, but the plant expects to run out of room in 2022. 

The Atomic Energy Society of Japan said recently that it could take 17 years for water to meet safety standards after it is diluted.

Greenpeace, which has long called on the Japanese government to invest in technology to remove radioactivity from the water, said the environmental minister's proposal is unacceptable.

"The government must commit to the only environmentally acceptable option for managing this water crisis which is long-term storage and processing to remove radioactivity, including tritium," Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist the group's German office, told France 24.

The government of neighboring South Korea expressed grave concerns over the potential plan to dump the water into the Pacific, saying it planned to work closely with Japan to come up with an alternative.

"The South Korean government is well aware of the impact of the treatment of the contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant on the health and safety of the people of both countries, and to the entire nation," the government said.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Colin Powell, Who Helped George W. Bush Lie Nation Into Iraq War, Dead at 84

"It's crucial to remember just how important Colin Powell was to selling the Iraq War, and how deliberately he used his public credibility to boost the lies that pushed us into the war. That is his biggest legacy."

Jon Queally ·


'Indefensible': US Billionaires Became $2.1 Trillion Richer in 19 Months of Pandemic

New analysis shows that just 745 individuals have combined $5 trillion in wealth—most of which will never be taxed—as nations reels from pain inflicted by Covid-19.

Jon Queally ·


Coalition Urges Biden to Make 'Transformative Change' in Approach to Global Food and Agriculture

"This pro-corporate agriculture agenda must change under your watch."

Andrea Germanos ·


Mondaire Jones Warns Against Watering Down Human Infrastructure Proposals

The New York Democrat is advocating universal programs, not means-tested ones, for programs in the Build Back Better plan.

Andrea Germanos ·


Manchin Threatening Key Climate Provision: Reports

"To take it out is to decide that climate change isn't a problem."

Andrea Germanos ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo