Typhoon Etau made landfall after forming south of Japan — in the midst of Japan’s recent progress to overcome devastation from the historic nuclear disaster that occurred when a massive earthquake and a following tsunami hit the country in March 2011. Etau became a new security threat to residents of Japan — and the world — as the Fukushima nuclear plant’s drainage pump system became deluged by unprecedented torrential downpours — and dumped contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean.
Tokyo Electric Power Company, TEPCO, is responsible for the storage of massive quantities of contaminated water that cooled fuel as it melted in the reactors that were crippled by the 2011 tragedy. TEPCO also released another bulk of 850 tons of filtered radioactive groundwater on September 14 – days after Etau, as agreed in the “subdrain plan” – and has the approval to release more when radioactive content is below measurable limits, says The Japan Times. The plan will “allow one Becquerel of radioactive cesium per liter of decontaminated groundwater, three becquerels for elements that emit beta rays and up to 1,500 becquerels for tritium, which cannot be removed with existing technology.”
TEPCO plans to release 100 to 200 tons daily, and then increase to 500 — by dumping treated water into the ground — in hopes of reducing approximately 300 tons of contaminated water, which is still being produced daily, by 50%. Questions are unanswered as to how to dispose of 680,000 tons that initially cooled the reactors in the 2011 tragedy.
During the height of Etau, the representative for TEPCO exposed the crippling truth, saying “The torrential downpour is also threatening safety at the Fukushima nuclear plant, closed since a 2011 disaster, as it has overwhelmed drainage pumps at the site’s contaminated water treatment facility.” Hundreds of tonnes of water, contaminated from the Fukushima nuclear plant are pouring into the Pacific Ocean,” – this followed an announcement made in early September that warned the storm posed a risk to the site.
Ironically, residents of Nahara – only 20 kilometers from the Fukushima plant – were recently allowed to return to what is left of their community 4 years after being evacuated due to radiation contamination in 2011. Of the 7,400 residents who left following the disaster, 53 percent say they are undecided or not ready to return, citing radiation health concerns, as well as the lack of public housing, transportation, hospitals, stores, and other facilities. They worry about radiation levels in the municipal water supply as well as radiation hot spots, although the government states radiation levels have decreased to safe levels. And, with this continuous outpour of contaminated waste, they have a good reason to be concerned.