Fukushima Begins Dumping Groundwater into Ocean Waters in May

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | March 31, 2014 5:05 PM EST

Tokyo Electric Power Co's dumping of groundwater from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant, already approved by local fishermen on Tuesday, will begin in May, Japan's industry minister said on Sunday.

A banner that reads "Fuku
A banner that reads "Fukushima" is placed in front of a giant symbolic Japan's national flag to mark the third year anniversary of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, March 11, 2014. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

Kyodo News said Toshimitsu Motegi, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister, assured fishermen in a meeting the release of the groundwater will not start until the season for catching young sand lance ends by end of April.

The Fukushima fisheries federation on Tuesday approved a proposal by Tepco to create a bypass flowing towards the devastated plant and then funnel it to the sea way before it reaches the reactor buildings, according to Reuters.

"The final consideration was based on the fact that we cannot allow them to release contaminated water. We realized that if the situation continued as it was, the whole system will fall down," Kenji Nakada, an official at the Fukushima fisheries federation, told Reuters.

"In such a case, the fisheries industry in Fukushima would be completely finished."

Read: Worker Dies at Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant

Tepco's bypass was approved to release 100 tonnes of groundwater daily.

Tepco's bypass proposal had the support of both Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority and the International Atomic Energy Agency, noting the controlled release of low-level water will enable the operator gain more storage space at the facility for irradiated water.

Part of the fishermen's conditions for approval mandated the hiring of a third party to monitor radiation levels of groundwater before it is released. Any groundwater up for release should have only less than 1 becquerels per liter of Cesium-134.

Read: Fukushima 3 Years After: Thyroid Cancer Cases Among Children Rising

In March, Tepco had to suspend the decontamination process at the plant after workers discovered one of the water filtering systems was not purifying contaminated water as designed.

Read: Fukushima Suspends Decontamination Process, Water Filtering System Malfunctions Yet Again

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(Photo: A banner that reads "Fuku / )
A banner that reads "Fukushima" is placed in front of a giant symbolic Japan's national flag to mark the third year anniversary of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, March 11, 2014. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler
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