Q&A

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Updated on December 26, 2023

  • What is the “contaminated water” being generated at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station?

     

    “Contaminated water” refers to water that contains highly concentrated radioactive substances that has been generated as a result of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station accident.
    Inside the reactor buildings of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Units 1~3, there is fuel that melted and solidified during the accident (fuel debris). This fuel debris is being kept cool by continuously spraying it with water, but when this water comes in contact with the fuel debris it is exposed to the highly concentrated radioactive substances and becomes “contaminated water”. This “contaminated water” that contains highly concentrated radioactive substances accumulates inside the reactor buildings and when it mixes with groundwater or rainwater flowing into the buildings even more “contaminated water” is produced.
    This “contaminated water” is being purified to reduce the concentrations of radioactive substances using multiple types of equipment. After risk has been sufficiently reduced in this manner, it is stored in tanks on site as “ALPS treated water, etc.”.

    Click here for information on contaminated water countermeasures

  • Isn’t “ALPS treated water” “contaminated water”? How is it different from “contaminated water”?

     

    “Contaminated water” and “ALPS treated water” are completely different. The water being discharged into the sea is “ALPS treated water that has been diluted with a large volume of seawater”. It is NOT “contaminated water”.
    At the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, water has been continually injected into the reactors since March 2011 in order to cool fuel debris that was produced during the accident. As this coolant water comes in contact with fuel debris, it becomes contaminated with high concentrations of radioactive substances and becomes “contaminated water”. This “contaminated water” is generated on a daily basis as a result.
    Furthermore, since this “contaminated water” that contains high concentrations of radioactive substances gradually accumulates inside the reactor buildings, any groundwater or rainwater that finds its way into the reactor building also becomes contaminated.
    Therefore, we use several types of purification equipment, such as multi-nuclide removal equipment that we refer to as “ALPS”, to reduce the concentrations of radioactive substances present in this “contaminated water”.
    Through ALPS treatment, the concentrations of radioactive substances, excluding tritium, are reduced to levels that fall well below ICRP* recommendations for discharge into the environment, and Japan’s regulatory standards, and the resulting purified water is referred to as “ALPS treated water”.
    Therefore the TEPCO makes a clear differentiation between “contaminated water” and “ALPS treated water”.

    *The International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) was established in 1982 as an international organization for giving recommendations on radiological protection from an expert point of view. ICRP recommendations serve as the foundation for laws and regulations all over the world.

  • What type of facility is the multi-nuclide removal equipment (ALPS)? How much radioactive substances is it capable of removing?

     

    There are Japanese laws that stipulate the standards for the discharge of radioactive substances into the environment from a nuclear facility, and there are approximately 1,000 radioactive substances that are covered.
    Multi-nuclide removal equipment (ALPS) has been designed to reduce the concentrations of 62 radioactive substances (excluding tritium) that are present in the “contaminated water” that accumulates in the reactor buildings and have been targeted for removal in order to reduce the risk that they pose to people and the environment in consideration of decay as of 2012, to levels that fulfill Government’s regulatory standards for discharge into the environment. The equipment employs treatment methods that take advantage of the chemical and physical attributes of radioactive substances, such as chemically-induced precipitation and filtration through various types of adsorbents.
    Recent operation performance has shown that only one treatment with ALPS can reduce the concentrations of radioactive substances to below Government’s regulatory standards that were stipulated in accordance with ICRP recommendations.
    The following graph shows a comparison of the concentrations of some of the 62 radionuclides found in “contaminated water” that are present at relatively high concentrations compared to “regulatory concentration limit” that have been measured at the inlet before the purification with ALPS, and at the outlet after purification.

    If you look at the concentrations after treatment, you can see that the concentrations have been reduced to below Government’s regulatory standards (regulatory concentration limits) for discharge into the environment.
    As for the radioactive substances other than the 62 nuclides and tritium, such as carbon-14, their concentrations have been evaluated as well below the standards.

  • Why is there water that has already been treated once with multi-nuclide removal equipment (ALPS) and is being stored in tanks that has concentrations of radioactive substances other than tritium that exceed the government’s regulatory standards for discharge into the environment?

     

    Approximately 70%* of the water being stored in tanks has concentrations of radioactive substances other than tritium that exceed the Government’s regulatory standards for discharge into the environment. This water is referred to as “Treated water to be re-purified”. (* As of August 2023. Most recent data can be found here)
    When multi-nuclide removal equipment (ALPS) was initially put into operation, priority was given to removing the majority of radioactive substances while purifying as much water as possible so as to reduce radiation levels on site, rather than purifying the water to the point where it meets the Government’s regulatory standards for discharge into the environment. As a result, radioactive substances other than tritium remain at levels that exceed the Government’s regulatory standards for discharge into the environment.
    ALPS is capable of reducing the concentrations of radioactive substances other than tritium in the “contaminated water” to levels that meet the Government’s regulatory standards for discharge into the environment, and since 2019, ALPS has been operated with the objective of purifying “contaminated water” so that these standards are met.
    We have confirmed that through re-purification with ALPS, the concentrations of radioactive substances, excluding tritium, in “treated water to be re-purified” that exceed the Government’s regulatory standards for discharge into the environment are being reduced to levels that meet these standards, and prior to the discharge into the sea, this water is purified repeatedly if necessary to ensure that discharge standards are met.

  • When you re-purify water that has concentrations of radioactive substances that exceed regulatory standards for discharge into the environment with multi-nuclide removal equipment (ALPS), does it then become ALPS treated water?

     

    Approximately 70%*1 of the water being stored in tanks has concentrations of radioactive substances other than tritium that exceed the Government’s regulatory standards for discharge into the environment. However, these radioactive substances can be removed to levels well below the Government’s regulatory standards through re-purification (secondary treatment) with multi-nuclide removal equipment (ALPS). Secondary treatment tests that we have performed have proven that the water can be purified without any problems.
    (*1 As of August 2023. Click here to see the most recent data).

    [Reference] Water is re-purified (secondary treatment) with ALPS to ensure that the sum of the ratios of the concentration of each radionuclide to the regulatory concentration limit*2, excluding tritium, falls below 1.

    *2 The sum of the ratios of the concentrations to the regulatory concentration limits, calculated for each radioactive substances.

    In 2020, we conducted performance confirmation tests for secondary treatment. During the tests approximately 1,000m³ of water was taken from two tank groups (approximately 2,000m³ in total) for which the sum of the ratios of the concentration of each radionuclide to the regulatory concentration limit differ (J1-C Group and J1-G Group) and subjected to secondary treatment, and we confirmed that it was possible to reduce the concentrations of radioactive substances (62 types of radioactive substances + Carbon-14), excluding tritium, to below Government’s regulatory standards (sum of the ratios of the concentration of each radionuclide to the regulatory concentration limit: 1). Furthermore, a third-party analysis of ALPS treated water subjected to secondary treatment with ALPS yielded the same results as TEPCO's analysis.
    [Sum of the ratios of the concentration of each radionuclide to the regulatory concentration limit of 62 radionuclides targeted for removal (62 radionuclides) + Carbon-14)]*3
    J1-C Group: [Prior to treatment] 2,406→ [After treatment] 0.35
    J1-G Group: [Prior to treatment] 387→ [After treatment] 0.22

    *3 For calculation purposes the detection limit was used for those radioactive substances for which concentrations were below detection limits.
    Of the radionuclides targeted for removal (62 radionuclides) + carbon-14, 12 types of radioactive substances were detected (Strontium-90, Yttrium-90, Ruthenium-106, Rhodium-106, Antimony-125, Tellurium-125m, Iodine-129, Cesium-135, Cesium-137, Barium-137m, Cobalt-60, Carbon-14).

  • Were any methods of disposal of ALPS treated water (“geosphere injection” or “underground burial”, etc.) other than discharge into the sea considered?

     

    The Japanese Government’s Subcommittee on Handling of the ALPS Treated Water (hereinafter referred to as the “ALPS Subcommittee” (November 2016 - February 2020)) and the Tritiated Water Task Force (December 2013 - June 2016) performed technical evaluations of five methods of disposal (“geosphere injection”, “underground burial (concrete solidification)”, “discharge into the sea”, “vapor release” and “hydrogen release”).
    In the case of “geosphere injection”, for example, which is a method by which ALPS treated water is injected into gaps in the geosphere layer and sealed, suitable geosphere layers (storage layer) are necessary and it is unknown whether suitable geosphere layers exist beneath or near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station site. If no suitable geosphere layer is found, geosphere injection cannot be carried out. Also, during meetings of the Government’s Task Force, the opinion was raised that "methods for long-term monitoring of the injected water have not been established, thereby making it difficult to confirm safety." It was also brought up that new regulations and standards related to disposal concentrations would have to be determined, which would be problematic.
    In the case of "underground burial", ALPS treated water is mixed with a cement-based solidifying agent and poured into a concrete pit for burial underground. In the report from the ALPS Subcommittee, it is noted that ① solidification involves heat and thus will evaporate the tritium present in the water, and ② therefore the establishment of new regulations may be necessary, not to mention that a suitable disposal site would need to be found.

  • Can’t you store the water long term in the tanks on site at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station?

     

    As we proceed with the decommissioning work to reduce risks, such as fuel removal from the spent fuel pools of Unit 1 and 2, and fuel debris (melted fuel that solidified as it cooled down) retrieval, it is essential to secure the space on site for the construction of facilities to safely storage retrieved fuel debris, etc.*, including the space where tanks as already located.
    Long-term on-site storage has been discussed by the Japanese Government’s “Subcommittee on Handling of the ALPS Treated Water (ALPS Subcommittee)”. ALPS Subcommittee concluded that “additional space for installing more tanks than currently planned is limited”, as a result of having assessed the efforts of expanding the capacity of existing tanks and improving the efficiency of placement of tanks. It also concluded that “expanding the size of tanks would have no merit as the marginal gain of capacity relative to surface area is limited, because longer period would be needed for installation and leak inspection, and also in the event of damage, the amount of leakage would be very large”.
    The handling of ALPS treated water is part of the decommissioning work of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, and is indispensable for completing decommissioning and enabling recovery in the region.

    *Examples of facilities that will be needed to move safely and steadily forward with decommissioning:
    - Spent fuel storage facility
    - Storage management and training facility for fuel debris retrieval
    - Fuel debris and radioactive waste storage/analysis facility

  • Have you considered storing of the ALPS treated water outside the premises of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station?

     

    TEPCO’s basic policy is to ensure that measures for decommissioning, contaminated water and treated water, etc. being implemented at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station are accomplished within the premises of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.
    To fulfill our responsibility of safely and steadily implementing decommissioning and contaminated water countermeasures as an implementing body, in accordance with our fundamental principle of "balancing recovery with decommissioning," we consider that storing of ALPS treated water off the premises is undesirable, as it would expand the area with risks and impose additional burden on the regional communities.
    The report from the Japanese Government’s “Subcommittee on Handling of the ALPS Treated Water (ALPS Subcommittee)” states that, "The decommissioning and contaminated water management are part of continuous risk reduction efforts, and as such, it is fundamental to proceed with the decommissioning works within the existing site area, as removing radioactive materials and placing them outside of the site area might entail increased risk."
    After years of discussion by the ALPS Subcommittee, the Government’s Basic Policy on handling of ALPS treated water at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (discharge into the sea) was announced in 2021.

    Click here to see the report from the ALPS Subcommittee.

  • What is “tritium”?

     

    Tritium is normal hydrogen with two extra neutrons (hydrogen-3) and its chemical properties are very similar to normal hydrogen. It mostly bonds with oxygen and exists in the form of water.
    Due to the instability of its atomic nucleus, one of the neutrons emits an electron and transforms into a proton. As a result, it becomes helium. The electron emitted during this process constitutes a type of radiation known as beta ray.

    There are various types of radiation, including alpha rays, beta rays, gamma rays, and X-rays. The ability of these radiations to penetrate matter varies according to their type.
    In the case of tritium, while it only emits beta rays, their energy is so weak that even a single sheet of paper can block them.

    Click here for detailed information on tritium (Special content from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry)(in Japanese only)
    Pamphlet "What is Tritium?“

  • How much tritium exists around us in our daily lives?

     

    Tritium is continuously produced in the natural environment when cosmic rays from space (cosmic radiation) interact with the atmosphere. The amount produced naturally is 4,500 times the annual discharge limit from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (22 trillion Bq). And, it is important to note that tritium is discharged into the oceans and atmosphere on a daily basis from nuclear facilities all over the world as part of normal operations. As a result of this natural production in the environment, tritium replaces hydrogen and combines with oxygen to form water and is present all around us, such as in water vapor in the atmosphere, rainwater, and the oceans. Rainwater, seawater and drinking water throughout Japan contain tritium in concentrations ranging from 0.1 to several becquerels per liter. Through the consumption of drinking water* etc., several tens of becquerels of tritium is always present in our bodies.

    * The World Health Organization (WHO)’s guidelines for drinking-water quality specifies a concentration index for tritium in drinking water at 10,000 becquerels per liter.

  • I understand that the energy of the radiation emitted from tritium is very weak, so how do you analyze it?

     

    Since the energy of the radiation (beta ray) emitted by tritium is extremely weak and cannot be directly measured, so special analysis methods are required for measuring tritium concentrations. The methods also differ depending on detection levels for the concentrations of tritium in the specimens to be analyzed, so it can take anywhere from several days to approximately one month to obtain measurement results from sample specimens. We refer to this method as “normal (precision) measurement.” However, if we want to obtain analysis results quickly, we can raise the concentration detection limit and perform measurements in less time, as a “quick measurement.”
    For liquid samples like water, before taking measurements, it’s essential to eliminate the effects of radiation from other radioactive substances and prevent attenuation caused by suspended particulate matter in the water. This is achieved by distillation. Furthermore, a reagent (scintillator) that emits light when irradiated is added to impurity-free distilled water and the mixture is left to stand in the dark for a full day among other necessary pre-treatments. Furthermore, when measuring samples with very low tritium concentrations, an electrolytic concentration process is added to increase the tritium concentration in the distilled water.
    In addition to the tritium contained in the water in their bodies (free water tritium: FWT), fish and seaweed also contain organically-bound tritium (OBT). For the analysis of organically-bound tritium (OBT), after freeze-drying the sample, the dried sample needs to be combusted to collect the moisture in the combustion gases. This process requires even more specialized preparatory steps than that for liquid samples, like seawater, or the water-based tritium (FWT) in fish and seaweed. Depending on the condition of the sample and the concentration detection level, the analysis can take anywhere from at least 1.5 weeks to up to a month.
    It's worth noting that the concentration of water-based tritium (FWT) in fish and seaweed is generally believed to be approximately the same* as the tritium concentration in the seawater from the collection site. Therefore, based on the analysis results of seawater, it's believed that the impact on fish and seaweed can be detected early.

    * Tritium is barely concentrated when taken up by aquatic life in its water state and is quickly excreted, so the concentration factor in aquatic life is considered to be “almost 1”.

  • How was the regulatory standard for tritium (60,000 becquerels per liter) determined?

     

    The government’s regulatory standard for tritium in the water to be discharged into the environment (60,000 becquerels per liter) is based on the concentration that, if someone were to drink approximately 2 liters of the water discharged from a nuclear facility's discharge outlet every day for 70 years, they would receive a radiation dose of 1 millisievert for a year.
    [Reference] The average annual radiation dose received from natural background radiation in Japan is approximately 2.1 millisieverts.

    The regulatory standard for tritium varies by government. This difference is due to the varying approaches taken by countries when determining these values.
    For instance, the World Health Organization (WHO)’s standard (10,000 becquerels per liter) is a reference for determining the need for radiological protection measures for drinking water so that annual exposure dose is 0.1mSv. On the other hand, the EU standard (100 becquerels per liter) is also for drinking water and is set as a screening value to decide if further investigation is necessary.
    In Japan, there are no standards for tritium in drinking water or food. Instead, the government has set a regulatory standard for the tritium concentration when it's discharged into the environment, ensuring its safety.

    [Reference] Regulatory standards for tritium in water across various country (tritium concentration limits for drinking water)

    EU 100 becquerels per liter
    The United States 740 becquerels per liter
    Canada 7,000 becquerels per liter
    Switzerland 10,000 becquerels per liter
    (Reference) WHO 10,000 becquerels per liter
    Finland 30,000 becquerels per liter
    Australia 76,103 becquerels per liter

  • How was the upper concentration limit of tritium (1,500 Becquerels per liter) determined for the dilution and discharge of ALPS treated water?

     

    The Government’s Basic Policy states that the tritium concentration to be the same as that in operational target (less than 1,500 Bq/liter) for the currently implemented discharge of water from the groundwater bypass and subdrains in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, not only to strictly comply with the regulatory standard for discharge into the environment but also to dispel concerns of consumers as much as possible.
    In order to achieve this standard, the ALPS treated water must be sufficiently diluted (more than 100 times) by sea water. In conjunction with dilution, the concentrations of radioactive substances other than tritium are also greatly diluted*.

    *By diluting ALPS treated water more than100 times, the post-dilution sum of the ratios of concentration of each radionuclide to the regulatory concentration limit other than tritium is less than 0.01. Furthermore, even with the inclusion of ratio of concentration of tritium, the value would still be less than 0.035.

  • How much tritium will be discharged into the sea annually?

     

    According to the Japanese Government’s Basic Policy on handling of ALPS treated water (announced in April 2021), the annual amount of tritium to be discharged will be less than 22 trillion Bq/year, which was the maximum amount discharged* by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station prior to the 2011 nuclear accident. This amount is within the scope of precedent for the discharge of tritium from nuclear power stations within Japan and overseas.
    In accordance with this Basic Policy, TEPCO has set the maximum annual tritium discharge amount at 22 trillion Bq, and will discharge tritium water in amounts that will prevent this maximum amount from being exceeded. The most recent data at the end of each fiscal year shall be used to revise tritium discharge plans so that the annual amount discharged falls below 22 trillion Bq.
    Furthermore, all countries that have nuclear power facilities, including China and Korea, discharge tritium on a daily basis. For example, in 2019, approximately 91 trillion Bq of tritium water (liquid waste) was discharged from the Wolseong Nuclear Power Plant in Korea, and in the same year approximately 124 trillion Bq of tritium water (liquid waste) was discharged from the Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant #3 in China. Despite this however, no impact attributable to tritium was seen in either of these countries.

    * Value set for each nuclear power station that serves as a reference for tritium discharged during normal operation.

  • Is the water discharged into the sea safe?

     

    The discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea shall be implemented while ensuring the safety of people and the environment, and in compliance with domestic laws and regulations.
    In particular, when discharging ALPS treated water into the sea, we shall make sure to comply with all domestic regulations and laws stipulated in accordance with ICRP recommendations, which are internationally accepted, just like when radioactive liquid waste is discharged from by other countries that have nuclear facilities, including China and Korea. These regulatory standards have been created based on scientific evidence to prevent the discharge of radioactive substances into the environment from impacting people or the environment. And, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have deemed these regulatory standards to be “in compliance with international practices.”
    Water being stored in tanks on site that have concentrations of radioactive substances, excluding tritium, that do not fulfill regulatory requirements for discharge into the environment shall be re-purified with ALPS, etc. until said concentrations are lower than regulatory standards prior to dilution and discharge.
    Thereafter, in order to reduce the concentration of tritium, the ALPS treated water shall be diluted with a volume of seawater more than 100 times the amount of water to be discharged. The radioactive substances for which concentrations have already been sufficiently reduced to meet regulatory standards for discharge into the environment, will be further diluted by a factor of 100 as a result of this process.
    The concentration of tritium in discharged water that has been diluted with seawater will be below 1,500Bq/liter, which is much lower than Japan’s standards (60,000Bq/liter) and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) water quality guidelines for drinking water (10,000 Bq/liter).
    Furthermore, in light of related international laws and practices, we have performed radiological impact assessments for people and the environment and have disclosed the results of these assessments. We shall also continuously monitor tritium in the environment after discharge and formulate measures to ascertain the state of tritium in the environment. We will also continue to have the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conduct objective and transparent reviews of this process based on international safety standards. Experts from third-party countries will also participate in these reviews.

  • What is the difference between “water discharged” from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and “water drained from other nuclear facilities”

     

    There is no difference between water discharged from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and water drained from other nuclear facilities in the respects that it fulfills government regulations pertaining to the discharge of radioactive substances into the environment and the radiological impact on people and the environment is negligible.
    When discharging radioactive substances from a nuclear facility into the environment, the types of radioactive substances to be regulated are stipulated for each facility (depending on operational details, reactor type, etc.).
    When discharging ALPS treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station into the environment, we confirm that the radioactive substances are at concentrations that fall below government regulations, just like other nuclear facilities.
    “Contaminated water yet to be purified” at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station contains radioactive materials not usually detected in drainage water* from a typical nuclear power station (for example, Strontium-90 and Cesium-137, etc.). However, when discharging of ALPS treated water that has been purified, we make sure that we comply with government regulations.

    * Radioactive substances such as Tritium, Cobalt-60, and Manganese-54 may be detected in drainage water from a typical nuclear facility.

    In addition, as a result of the tsunami, water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station may contain impurities such as salt originating from seawater that was brought in by the tsunami, as well as lubricating oil from machinery located in the buildings. When discharging water that contains these impurities into the environment, we confirm that the concentrations of impurities comply with regulations, such as the Water Pollution Control Act. And, the results of the tests are publicly disclosed.

    Click here for the Pre-discharge analysis results of the water in the measurement/confirmation tanks

  • What are the concentrations of radioactive carbon-14 (C-14) in ALPS treated water, and what is the Japanese Government’s regulatory standard for it?

     

    Concentration of carbon-14 in ALPS treated water meets Japanese Government’s regulatory standard that was stipulated in accordance with international standards of radioactive wastes.
    Ensuring safety of the public and surrounding environment is a precondition for discharging liquids or gases that contain radioactive substances into the environment from nuclear facilities, and utilities must comply with Government’s regulatory standards which have been stipulated in accordance with the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) recommendations.
    The concentration of carbon-14 in tanks used to store ALPS treated water, etc. (data obtained from a total of 80 tanks analyzed by the end of June 2020) is 42.4 Bq/liter* on average, while the Japanese Government’s regulatory standard (regulatory concentration limit) is 2,000 Bq/liter.
    Even if an adult were to drink approximately 2L of this water without dilution every day for an entire year until the age of 70, the annual dose would only be approximately 0.021mSv, which is well below 1 mSv, the upper limit of annual dose for the public.

    *Minimum: 2.53 Bq/liter; Maximum: 215 Bq/liter

  • Won’t there be an impact on public and the environment from the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea?

     

    Our radiological environmental impact assessment regarding the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea was performed in compliance with the international standards, which consider the potential accumulation in the environment and the bioaccumulation through the food chain. The results suggest that the impact on public and the environment is extremely small. Furthermore, these results have been verified by the Nuclear Regulation Authority and reviewed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
    In our radiological environmental impact assessment regarding the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea, we have considered the potential accumulation of radioactive substances discharged into the environment and bioaccumulation through the food chain. The result of the assessment, which was performed in compliance with internationally recognized scientific standards, shows that the impact on public and the environment is extremely small*.
    This radiological environmental impact assessment was implemented based on the "Basic Policy on handling of ALPS treated Water at the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings’ Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (Government decision of April 2021)". As part of the approval process for the application for approval to amend the implementation plan under the Act on the Regulation of Nuclear Source Material, Nuclear Fuel Material, and Reactors, the Nuclear Regulation Authority has confirmed the assessment result.
    Furthermore, we have explained our methodology and results of the assessment to the IAEA. In the IAEA's comprehensive report, they confirmed that our assessment method considers long-term releases without underestimating potential impacts, and the resulting impacts on public and the environment are negligible.

    * For example, the public impact assessment assumes that an individual is at sea for 120 days a year within a 10 kilometer radius of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, stays on the coast 3km north of the power station for 500 hours, swims in the sea for 96 hours, and consumes an average of 58 grams of Japanese fish daily. In this scenario, the evaluated radiation dose is less than 1/30,000 of the general public's dose limit (1 millisievert per year). Moreover, for marine organisms like flounder and brown algae, the evaluated impact result is less than 1/1,000,000 of the standard proposed by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). For crabs, it's evaluated to be less than 1/10,000,000 of the standard.

  • Can we know the types and total amount of radioactive substances contained in the water currently stored at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station?

     

    Currently, the water that was purified with multi-nuclide removal equipment (ALPS) and has had the concentrations of radionuclides reduced (“ALPS treated water” and “treated water to be re-purified”) is being stored in tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. The concentrations of major radionuclides in this stored water are analyzed and publicly disclosed on our website, but this data is not used to determine if the water is suitable for discharge.
    Click here for the analysis results of the major radionuclides in storage tanks (in Japanese only)

    Before discharging “treated water to be re-purified” we shall re-purify this water using multi-nuclide removal equipment (ALPS) to reduce the concentration of all radionuclides, excluding tritium. Treated water to be re-purified will not be discharged as is into the sea.
    For the water to be discharged into the sea, after being transferred to the “measurement/confirmation facility”, the concentrations of radionuclides in the water will be analyzed and assessed by our company and third-party agencies, to ensure that the water meets regulatory standards, excluding the standards for tritium. These results are publicly disclosed on our website.
    Click here for the Pre-discharge analysis results of the water in the measurement/confirmation tanks

    According to our discharge plan, each time before a discharge, we will circulate and agitate the water in the “measurement/confirmation facility” to make the water quality homogeneous. After that, we will take samples of the water to analyze and assess the concentrations of 69 nuclides. In this analysis and assessment, we ensure that the concentrations of 29 nuclides, which could be present in significant amounts even before ALPS treatment, fall well below the Government’s regulatory standards. We will also confirm the concentration of tritium, and check the concentrations of the remaining 39 nuclides (out of the 69 radionuclides, excluding tritium and the aforementioned 29 nuclides) that they are not present in significant amounts.
    This discharge plan was confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to be “consistent with relevant international safety standards” as stated in the IAEA’s comprehensive report, which also states that, “the discharge of the ALPS treated water will have a negligible radiological impact on people and the environment”.
    Additionally, to check the performance of ALPS, we analyze 64 major nuclides once a week and a total of 64 radionuclides, including the 62 targeted for removal by ALPS, once a year at the ALPS outlet. Based on the analysis results to date, we have confirmed that ALPS can purify the radionuclides to well below the Government’s regulatory standards in a single treatment. Furthermore, the analysis results also show that radionuclides other than the major ones are almost never detected. Thus, we believe that through future treatment with ALPS we can remove the radionuclides in the stored water that are present at concentrations that exceed the Government’s regulatory standards so that such concentration fall below these standards.

  • Doesn’t the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea violate the London Convention that prohibits the ocean dumping of waste?

     

    Drainage from nuclear facilities in Japan and overseas, including the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, does not violate the London Convention.
    The London Convention stipulates measures that should be implemented by member nations to internationally regulate the ocean disposal of waste, which is one of the causes of marine pollution.
    The London Convention applies only to “dumping” and defines “dumping” as, “(i) any deliberate disposal at sea of wastes, etc. from vessels, etc.; (ii) any deliberate disposal at sea of vessels, etc.”
    This definition has been interpreted to mean that, “drainage from land is not prohibited,” so the drainage from nuclear facilities in Japan and overseas, including the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, does not constitute a violation of the London Convention.

  • Why not more broadly accept measurements from overseas third parties such as Korea, China?

     

    During the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea, we fully comply with international safety standards and Government’s regulatory standards that were stipulated based on internationally accepted ICRP recommendations to ensure the safety of public health and the environment.
    In terms of measurement and assessment of the concentrations of radioactive substances in ALPS treated water and sea area monitoring, the results are not only disclosed each time, but also confirmed by third parties.
    In particular, from an international perspective, we accept monitoring of treated water and seawater, etc. by IAEA laboratories and third-party laboratories conducted in the framework of the ALPS treated water safety review by the IAEA, in which the international experts from around the world participate. Results of these measurements are being disclosed via IAEA reports.
    We will continue to have the IAEA reviews with the participation of international experts from around the world in order to ensure the transparency and objectivity during the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea.

    [Reference] In October 2023, the IAEA implemented a work to confirm the collection of marine samples in Japan*. In order to ensure transparency, experts from laboratories in Korea, China, and Canada that were selected by the IAEA visited Japan and participated in this project.

    *Since 2014, the IAEA has continually conducted interlaboratory comparisons (ILC). The samples jointly collected and divided have been analyzed individually by the IAEA laboratories and the laboratories from Japan and other countries, and the IAEA has compared and evaluated these analysis results.

    Click here for details on ILC (in Japanese only)

  • I would like to know the tritium analysis results for seawater as quickly as possible. Where can I find this information?

     

    Normal measurement of tritium (precision measurement) usually takes from several days to approximately one month to complete. However, in addition to this measurement, we have been conducting “quick tritium measurement”, after the starting the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea. In "quick tritium measurement”, we obtain analysis results of tritium concentration around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in one day, by setting the detection limit at 10Bq/liter.
    Furthermore, agencies other than TEPCO also perform “quick tritium measurement”, and the analysis results from these agencies are compiled by TEPCO and disclosed via the “Treated Water Portal Site” and the “Overarching Radiation-monitoring data Browsing System (ORBS)”.

    Click here for the Treated Water Portal Site “Sea area monitoring results”
    Click here for the “Overarching Radiation-monitoring data Browsing System”

  • I heard that radioactive substances will wash up on the shores of Asian countries, such as Korea and China, as a result of the discharge into the sea. Are you monitoring this process in a sound manner?

     

    ALPS treated water is the result of purification with multi-nuclide removal equipment (ALPS), etc. that reduces the concentrations of radioactive substances, excluding tritium, so that they fall well below Japan’s domestic regulatory standards that were created based on ICRP recommendations. This ALPS treated water is then diluted with a volume of seawater 100 times the amount to be discharged and then discharged into the sea. As a result, the impact of discharge into the sea on the surrounding environment will be negligible.
    The results of an ocean diffusion simulation conducted as part of our radiological environmental impact assessment show that areas in which the concentrations of tritium in the environment exceed the natural concentrations of tritium in seawater (0.1~1Bq/liter) are restricted to an area 2~3 km from the power station, and that tritium concentrations in the areas outside this 3km radius do not differ from those in the natural environment. Based on these results, the IAEA’s comprehensive report came to the conclusion that the discharge would have a negligible radiological impact on people and the environment.
    Furthermore, since April 2022, we have increased the quantity and frequency of sea area monitoring points used to monitor targeted nuclides, including tritium, and as a result have been able to continually confirm that the discharge of ALPS treated water is not having an impact on the surrounding sea area.

  • It seems that you are conducting fish and shellfish rearing tests in seawater mixed with ALPS treated water. Why are you doing this?

     

    The safety of the discharge of ALPS treated water has been confirmed through the scientific knowledge pertaining to tritium that exists today.
    On this basis, we are rearing marine organisms in a seawater environment that includes ALPS treated water in order to demonstrate in an easy-to-understand manner that the tritium concentrations in marine organisms are no different than the tritium concentrations in seawater, in line with existing scientific knowledge.
    Specifically, we are rearing marine organisms (flounder, abalone and seaweed) in both seawater and ALPS treated water diluted with seawater (with tritium concentration of about 1,500 becquerels per liter), and are then comparing their growth conditions.
    TEPCO’s aim is to deepen the understanding of the general public about the safety of the discharge of ALPS treated water by providing visual proof in the form of actual breeding experiments conducted in ALPS treated water.

  • Does the exhaust filter damage found in multi-nuclide removal equipment (ALPS) in September 2021 have an impact on the purification performance of the equipment?

     

    The multi-nuclide removal equipment (ALPS) is comprised of primary components used to remove radioactive substances, and auxiliary components used to dispose of waste generated in the course of operation. The damage that was discovered is to exhaust filters in auxiliary components, and therefore has no direct impact on purification performance or purification equipment operation.

  • Does the exhaust filter damage found in multi-nuclide removal equipment (ALPS) in September 2021 have any impact on the surrounding environment or workers?

     

    There have been no cases of workers ingesting radioactive substances in the building where multi-nuclide removal equipment (ALPS) is located, so this means there have been no radiological safety problems.
    The damage found to exhaust filters resulted only in the surface contamination of exhaust pipes in the equipment where the aforementioned exhaust filter damage was discovered, and we have not seen any spread of contamination to the surrounding area.
    Furthermore, since we have seen no significant increases in regular dust concentration measurements or smear measurements taken at the entrances and exits of the building, nor any significant increase in dust monitor readings on-site, we have determined that there is no impact on the surrounding environment.