Fukushima’s radioactive repositories are full: what will happen next?

The tanks for storing radioactive water at the infamous Fukushima nuclear power plant will soon be filled to capacity. The government commission decides what to do with it.

The accident at Fukushima-1 station became the largest technological disaster of the 21st century. The earthquake and the ensuing tsunami led to the melting of the reactor core and hydrogen explosions at power units. A 20-kilometer exclusion zone was created around the plant, from which 150,000 people were evacuated.

According to estimates by Japanese nuclear scientists, bringing the facility to a safe condition will take at least 40 years. However, already in 2022, Fukushima-1 could cause a new man-made disaster. It’s all about radioactive water, which constantly accumulates in the tanks of the station. Despite the fact that modern purification technologies allow most radionuclides to be removed from the water, they cannot cope with tritium. Namely, this element is abundant at the Japanese nuclear power plant.

The most common way to dispose of tritiated water is to gradually discharge it into the sea. However, local residents, fishermen and environmentalists are protesting against such methods. As a “quick” solution to the problem, expansion of the plant’s territory and the construction of new tanks for contaminated liquid there are considered. But this, in fact, will only delay the inevitable.

Officials are also considering options for pumping contaminated water deep underground or the method of “solidification” (freezing and subsequent underground burial). However, such methods require a huge amount of preparatory work, and you also need to find a place where it will be safe to carry out such procedures.