Publication Laka-library:
The reality of the Fukushima radioactive water crisis

AuthorShaun Burnie, Greenpeace Germany
DateOctober 2020

From the publication:

Stemming the tide 2020
The reality of the Fukushima radioactive water crisis
Shaun Burnie
Greenpeace Germany

Two years after our first report on the crisis,1 more than a million tons
of radioactive water is still sitting in tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi
nuclear power plant in Japan, site of the catastrophic meltdown in March
2011. The Japanese government has decided that it will discharge the
contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean, releasing strontium-90,
carbon-14 and other hazardous radionuclides. It is a move that will have
serious, long-term consequences for communities and the environment,
locally and much further afield. Currently, discharges are planned to
begin in late 2022 or early 2023, and these will continue until the mid-
The Japanese government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)
have constructed a series of myths to support their plan: that by 2022,
there will be no further space for storage of the water; the water is not
contaminated – radioactive tritium is the only radionuclide in the water
and it is harmless; and there are no alternatives to discharging the water
into the ocean.
This report, as did our 2019 analysis, demonstrates that these statements
are untrue. The Japanese government’s narrative has been created
for both financial and political reasons. Not only is ocean discharge
the cheapest option, it helps the government create the impression
that substantial progress is being made in the early decommissioning
of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors. But long after the Suga and Abe
administrations are historical footnotes, the consequences of the nuclear
disaster will remain a constant threat, most immediately to the people
and environment of Fukushima, but also more widely in Japan and
Any government or industry confronted by the scale and range of
challenges would have struggled to manage the disaster. However, time
after time, TEPCO and Japanese government bodies appear to have
conspired to make the crisis worse. TEPCO’s recent admission that their
processing technology is flawed, and the acknowledgement, almost 10
years after the disaster, that the water contains radioactive carbon-14 are
just the latest in a long history of misreporting and cover-ups.2
There has been sustained opposition to the discharge of the
contaminated water from citizens in Fukushima, commercial bodies such
as Japan's national federation of fisheries cooperatives, JF Zengyoren,3
the majority of municipal assemblies in Fukushima Prefecture, and wider
Japanese society. There has also been opposition from Japan’s nearest
geographical neighbours, especially the Republic of Korea. However, the
Japanese government continues to ignore the views of all who seek to
protect the world’s oceans.
After a detailed examination of the evidence, Greenpeace has concluded
that the only acceptable solution is continued long-term storage and
processing of the contaminated water. This is logistically possible, and it
will allow time for more efficient processing technology to be deployed as
well as allowing the threat from radioactive tritium to diminish naturally.
It is the only way to safeguard the human rights, health and environment
of the people of Fukushima, the rest of Japan and the wider international