Japan Data

Expected Date for Fukushima Daiichi Treated Water Release Approaches

Society Environment

After an International Atomic Energy Agency report approved the planned release of treated water into the sea from TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the release is expected to take place later this summer.

A report submitted by the International Atomic Energy Agency to Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio on July 4 concluded that the planned release of treated water into the sea from TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is “consistent with international safety standards.” The report also stated that the impact of the release on people and the environment will be “negligible.”

Water contaminated by radiation at Fukushima Daiichi is purified through the multi-nuclide removal Advanced Liquid Processing System to remove radioactive elements. However, tritium, which has similar properties to hydrogen, cannot be removed, so TEPCO has been storing the treated water in tanks at the plant. As the tanks are nearing their maximum capacity in April 2021 the government decided on a policy to release the water into the sea. The plan is to dilute the concentration of tritium in the treated water to less than one-fortieth, which meets the national standard, and then release that water around one kilometer offshore from the nuclear power plant. Prime Minister Kishida will make a final decision later on the exact start of release, which has long been planned for around summer this year. There is however strong opposition not only from those in the domestic fishing industry but also from China, Hong Kong, and elsewhere in Asia.

Fukushima Daiichi Treated Water Timeline

Around February 2024 Treated water tanks forecast to reach capacity.
Summer 2023? Planned start of release.
July 7, 2023 South Korean government announces results of its own review regarding the release of treated water into the sea, stating “it meets IAEA and other international standards and the release is expected to have almost no impact.”
July 4, 2023 IAEA comprehensive report finds the release is “consistent with safety standards.”
June 28, 2023 TEPCO announces construction of release facilities complete. Nuclear Regulation Authority conducts pre-service inspection.
June 22, 2023 Japan Fisheries Cooperatives passes special resolution strongly urging the government to take full responsibility and deal with any issues that arise.
May 23, 2023 South Korean team of experts visits the site.
August 2022 TEPCO begins construction of release facilities after receiving approval from Fukushima prefectural government and municipal governments of Ōkuma and Futaba.
July 2022 Nuclear Regulation Authority approves TEPCO’s release plan.
September 2021 IAEA begins its safety review.
August 2021 TEPCO announces it will release the treated water approximately 1 kilometer offshore.
April 2021 Administration of Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide decides on controlled release into the sea.
February 2020 Government subcommittee publishes report identifying “controlled release into the sea” and “controlled vapor release” as viable options.
May 2016 Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry expert group report states that “disposal of treated water into the sea takes the shortest duration and incurs the lowest costs.”
August 2015 Japanese government and TEPCO promise Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations that “there will be no disposal without the understanding of all involved parties.”
March 2013 Trial operations begin of multi-nuclide removal Advanced Liquid Processing System to remove majority of radioactive elements from Fukushima Daiichi’s contaminated water.
March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami cause nuclear accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: Prime Minister Kishida Fumio at the Kantei on July 4, 2023, receiving a comprehensive report from IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi regarding the plans to release treated water from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the sea. © Reuters.)

Fukushima TEPCO Great East Japan Earthquake nuclear power