News Release

The Case Against Fukushima Releasing Over One Million Metric Tons of Radioactive Wastewater

Folkers is radiation and health hazard specialist with Beyond Nuclear. Kamps is the radioactive waste specialist for the group.

Folkers stated: “On Tuesday, the government of Japan announced its decision to intentionally discharge, directly into the Pacific Ocean, 1.25 million metric tons (330 million U.S. gallons) of radioactively contaminated wastewater, enough volume to fill 500 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The contaminated wastewater has accumulated over the past decade at the triple-reactor meltdown site of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. It is currently contained in more than a thousand giant storage tanks onsite. The dumping will begin in a couple of years, and continue for decades.

“Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) data show that even twice-through filtration leaves the water 13.7 times more concentrated with hazardous tritium — radioactive hydrogen — than Japan’s allowable standard for ocean dumping, and about one million times higher than the concentration of natural tritium in Earth’s surface waters.

“TEPCO wants us to believe that the radioactive contamination in this water will be diluted in the ocean waters. But some of the radioactive isotopes will concentrate up the food chain in ocean life. And some of the contamination may not travel out to sea and can double back on itself. Dilution doesn’t work for radioactive isotopes, particularly tritium, which research shows can travel upstream.

“Tritium has a persistent hazardous life of about 123 to 246 years. Organically-bound tritium, can bio-accumulate in food, including seafood, and reside in our bodies for a decade, causing cancer, genetic damage, birth defects, and reproductive harm. Radioactive carbon-14, also present in the wastewater to be dumped, remains hazardous for 55,000 to 110,000 years. Women, children, and fetuses are significantly more susceptible to the hazards of radioactivity than are men.” See Folkers’ factsheet: “Tritium: a universal health threat released by every nuclear reactor.” See Folkers’ full press statement, as well as a list of relevant Beyond Nuclear and other backgrounders.

Kamps said today: “Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO), the Japanese government, and the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are trying to justify the oceanic releases as being of ‘allowable’ or ‘permissible’ radioactive concentrations, that will then further dilute in the Pacific. But ‘allowable’ or ‘permissible’ does not mean ‘safe.’ The U.S. National Academy of Sciences have long held that any exposure to ionizing radioactivity carries a health risk, no matter how small the dose, and that such harm accumulates over a lifetime of exposure. Thus, ‘dilution is not the solution to radioactive pollution,’ as Dr. Rosalie Bertell of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health warned decades ago. Dilution is a delusion, when bio-accumulation, concentration, and magnification in the seafood supply is taken into consideration. Humans are at the top of that food chain, at risk of the most concentrated, hazardous internal exposures to ingested ionizing radiation.

“American spokesmen — such as former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman Dale Klein, and former U.S. Department of Energy official Lake Barrett — tapped by TEPCO to advocate for this tritiated wastewater ocean dumping, should be ashamed of themselves. So too should the Biden administration State Department, which has expressed support for this ocean dumping scheme in order to advance its own irresponsible pro-nuclear power agenda, which it shares in common with the Japanese government and the IAEA.

“The claim is made that there is no more room for storing ever accumulating quantities of radioactive wastewater. So arbitrary property lines are taking precedence over what is an ongoing radioactive emergency? The nuclear power plant host towns of Futaba and Okuma are already largely uninhabitable due to extensive radioactive contamination, and in fact are being used to store very large quantities of bagged radioactively contaminated soil, leaves, and other materials gathered from across a broad region. The radioactive wastewater should be stored in robust containers on solid ground for as long as it remains hazardous, even if this means beyond the arbitrary confines of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant property line.” See Kamps’s full press statement, as well as additional factual background information.