The effort to safely decommission Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant just got hit by a looming deadline.
In about three years, the plant will run out of space for the massive quantities of treated but still-radioactive water that officials have been storing there, according to The Associated Press. While a government panel came up with a few possible courses of action, the most feasible one at the moment is to simply dump the water into the Pacific — a bleak sign for nuclear disasters in the future.
At the moment, Fukushima has over 1 million tons of water stored in almost 1,000 on-site tanks, the AP reports. Plans are in place to build enough to store nearly 1.4 million more tons, but that even those will reach capacity by mid-2022.
Local fishers and residents of the area say that dumping the water would devastate the area’s fishing and agriculture industry, per the AP. Other options considered by the panel include vaporizing the radioactive water or injecting it deep underground.
“When we talk about Fukushima’s reconstruction, the question is if we should prioritize the decommissioning at the expense of Fukushima people’s lives,” University of Tokyo professor of disaster social science Naoya Sekiya told the AP. “The issue is not just about science.”
READ MORE: Fukushima nuclear plant out of space for radioactive water [The Associated Press]
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