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Japan: Radioactive Fukushima water to be released into sea

Christian Fernsby |
A Japanese government panel today accepted a draft proposal for releasing into the sea massive amounts of radioactive water from Fukushima nuclear plant.

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The economy and industry ministry's draft proposal said releasing the water gradually into the sea was the safer, more feasible method, though evaporation was also a proven method used after the 1979 Three Mile Island accident.

The proposal in coming weeks will be submitted to the government for further discussion to decide when and how the water should be released.

Fishermen and residents fear possible health effects from releasing the radioactive water as well as harm to the region's image and fishing and farm industry.

The water has been treated, and the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., says all 62 radioactive elements it contains can be removed to levels not harmful to humans, except for tritium.

Experts say there is no established method to fully separate tritium from water, but it is not a problem in small amounts.

Government officials also say tritium is routinely released from existing nuclear power plants around the world.

In Friday's proposal, the ministry said the controlled release to the sea is superior because its traveling route is predictable and easier to sample and monitor.

The method, however, could immensely impact Fukushima's still struggling fishing industry.

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