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  • 1440 Daily Digest

Fukushima Water Release

Japan will begin releasing over a million tons of treated wastewater today from the compromised Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean. The plant was destroyed by the tsunami caused by the Tōhoku earthquake in March 2011, the country's strongest recorded seismic event (watch overview), which claimed nearly 20,000 lives.

Although the plant withstood the magnitude 9.0 quake, the 100-foot waves destroyed its cooling systems, prompting a meltdown in its three active reactors. The enormous volume of water used to cool the reactors—roughly 170 tons per day—undergoes radioactive filtration and is then stored; over 1,000 tanks now crowd the site (how it works). Starting today, roughly 130,000 gallons of water will be piped into the sea daily for decades.

International regulators have approved the government's plan, claiming the water contains safe levels of radioactive elements. However, environmental groups, fishing lobbyists, as well as neighbor China have criticized the initiative. See the enduring impact of the nuclear accident on the region here.

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