Tepco to Begin Piping Groundwater Into Sea to Avoid Irradiation

Tokyo Electric Power Co. will begin releasing groundwater from its Fukushima site into the sea as soon as next week, a diversion aimed at stopping the water from becoming contaminated by the plant’s wrecked nuclear reactors.

Tests conducted May 14 showed that the water’s radioactivity falls within government safety guidelines, Mayumi Yoshida, a spokeswoman for the company known as Tepco, said today by phone. The discharge of about 560 metric tons will occur after the company shares those results with local government officials and fishermen’s groups, she said.

Levels of toxic water at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant are rising at a rate of 400 tons a day as groundwater seeping into basements mixes with the water used to cool highly radioactive reactor cores. The bypass system would cut the amount of contaminated water stored by 100 tons a day, Tepco has said.

The Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations approved the water diversion last month, having previously opposed the plan, citing Tepco’s history of faked safety reports and cover ups.

Tepco has struggled with contaminated water storage since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami caused meltdowns at three Fukushima reactors. The site had more than 458,600 tons of radioactive water stored in about 1,000 tanks as of April 22.

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