Japan to start releasing treated water from Fukushima this year

Japan plans to start releasing more than a million tonnes of treated water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean this year, a top government spokesman said Friday.

The plan has been endorsed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), but the government will wait for “a comprehensive report” by the UN watchdog before the release, chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.

Cooling systems at the plant were overwhelmed when a massive undersea earthquake triggered a tsunami in 2011, causing the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

Decommissioning work is under way and expected to take around four decades.

The site produced 100 cubic metres (3,500 cubic feet) of contaminated water each day on average in the April-November period last year — a combination of groundwater, seawater and rainwater that seeps into the area, and water used for cooling.