To dump or not to dump a little-discussed substance is the question brewing in Japan as it grapples with the aftermath of the nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima five years ago. The substance is tritium. The radioactive material is nearly impossible to remove from the huge quantities of water used to cool melted-down reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, which was wrecked by the massive tsunami in northeastern Japan in March 2011. The water is still accumulating since 300 tons are needed every day to keep the reactors chilled. Some is leaking into the ocean. Huge tanks lined up around the plant, at last count 1,000 of them, each hold hundreds of tons of water that have been cleansed of radioactive cesium and strontium but not of tritium. Ridding water of tritium has been carried out in laboratories. But it’s an effort that would be extremely costly at the scale required for the Fukushima plant, which sits on the Pacific coast. Many scientists argue it isn’t worth it and say the risks of dumping the tritium-laced water into the sea are minimal. Their calls to simply release the water into the Pacific Ocean are alarming many in Japan and elsewhere. Children are more susceptible to radiation-linked illness. Tritium goes directly into soft tissues and organs of the human body, potentially increasing the risks of cancer and other sicknesses. “Any exposure to tritium radiation could pose some health risk. This risk increases with prolonged exposure, and health risks include increased occurrence of cancer,” said Robert Daguillard, a spokesman for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
New York Times 12th April 2016 read more »
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Express 13th April 2016 read more »