Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will meet the head of the national fisheries group this week over a plan to release treated radioactive water accumulating at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea, government sources said Tuesday.
Getting consent for the disposal from Hiroshi Kishi, head of the national federation of fisheries cooperatives JF Zengyoren, would be a significant step for the government toward resolving the issue of the Fukushima complex's water storage capacity, which is close to running out.
The fisheries group, however, has so far strongly opposed the disposal option.
The government is in the final process of officially deciding which disposal method to use and will hold a meeting of related ministers later this month, the sources said.
In February last year, a government panel proposed various options for disposing of the water -- which has been treated to remove most radioactive contaminants -- including releasing it into the ocean as well as evaporating it. The plant's operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc (TEPCO) drafted a plan to dilute the water before dumping it in the sea.
The government had originally hoped to make a decision in October this year but later decided it would need more time for discussions with the parties involved to gain their understanding.
Suga said during a parliamentary session in March that the government could not keep postponing a decision on the disposal issue as storage space for water tanks at the Fukushima complex is expected to run out in the not-so-distant future.
That period could occur after the fall of 2022, TEPCO said in January after accounting for last year's amount of precipitation.
The Fukushima Daiichi power plant, which suffered core meltdowns due to the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011, continues to generate massive amounts of radiation-tainted water, which is used to cool melted fuels.
The contaminated water has been treated using an advanced liquid processing system, or ALPS, to remove radioactive materials and is stored in tanks on the plant's premises. The process, however, cannot remove tritium, a radioactive byproduct of nuclear reactors.© KYODO