The operator of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant said Wednesday it plans to build an undersea tunnel so that massive amounts of treated but still radioactive water can be released into the ocean about 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) away from the plant to avoid interference with local fishing. The operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, said it hopes to start releasing the water in spring 2023. TEPCO says hundreds of storage tanks at the plant need to be removed to make room for facilities necessary for the plant’s decommissioning. An official in charge of the water discharge project, Junichi Matsumoto, said TEPCO will construct the undersea tunnel by drilling through bedrock in the seabed near its No. 5 reactor, which survived the meltdowns at the plant, to minimize possible underground contamination or leakage of radioactive ground water into the tunnel. Increasing amounts of radioactive water have been stored in about 1,000 tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi plant since 2011, when a massive earthquake and tsunami damaged three reactors and their cooling water became contaminated and began leaking. The plant says the tanks will reach their capacity late next year.
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