Fukushima Reactor Water Could Damage Human DNA If Released - Greenpeace
By Staff, Agencies
Contaminated water that will reportedly be released into the sea from the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant contains a radioactive substance that has the potential to damage human DNA, a Greenpeace investigation has said.
The environmental group claims the 1.23m tons of water stored in more than 1,000 tanks at the plant contains “dangerous” levels of the radioactive isotope carbon-14, in addition to quantities of tritium that have already been widely reported.
The publication of the report “Stemming the Tide 2020: The reality of the Fukushima radioactive water crisis” comes days after Japanese media reported that the government was close to giving its approval to release the water into the Pacific Ocean, despite objections from local fishermen who say the move will destroy their livelihoods.
“We cannot postpone the issue forever,” Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, said this week. “We would like to make a decision responsibly as soon as possible.”
While most attention has been focused on tritium – which cannot be removed by the on-site filtration system used by the plant’s operator Tokyo Electric Power [Tepco] – Greenpeace Japan and Greenpeace East Asia said that radioactive carbon contained in the stored water would also be discharged.
Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5,370 years and becomes “incorporated into all living matter”, the report said.
“It concentrates in fish at a level thousands of times higher than tritium. Carbon-14 is especially important as a major contributor to collective human radiation dose and has the potential to damage human DNA.”
The Japanese government and Tepco refer to the water – which becomes tainted when it is used to cool the plant’s tsunami-damaged reactors – as “treated water” and give the impression that it contains only tritium, it added.
Tepco’s advanced liquid processing system removes highly radioactive substances from the water but is unable to filter out tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that nuclear power plants routinely dilute and dump along with water into the ocean.
Greenpeace said it had confirmed with Tepco that the system was not designed to remove carbon-14.
“Nearly 10 years after the start of the disaster, Tepco and the Japanese government are still covering up the scale of the crisis at Fukushima Daiichi,” said Shaun Burnie, author of the report and senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany.