Okuma (Japan), Sep 10: Contaminated water from Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant may have to be released into the ocean because storage space will run out in 2022, Minister of Environment Kankyo Daijin said on Tuesday.
More than a million tonnes of water that has been used to cool the melted reactors is kept in giant tanks.
Fisherman's groups are strongly opposed to the idea but many scientists say it would pose a low risk.
The government said a final decision had not yet been taken.
More than 1 million tonnes of contaminated water has accumulated at the plant since it was struck by a tsunami in March 2011, triggering a triple meltdown that forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents.
Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) has struggled to deal with the buildup of groundwater, which becomes contaminated when it mixes with water used to prevent the three damaged reactor cores from melting.
Tepco has attempted to remove most radionuclides from the excess water, but the technology does not exist to rid the water of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. Coastal nuclear plants commonly dump water that contains tritium into the ocean. It occurs in minute amounts in nature.
Tepco admitted last year that the water in its tanks still contained contaminants beside tritium.
Currently, more than 1m tonnes of contaminated water is held in almost 1,000 tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi site, but the utility has warned that it will run out of tank space by the summer of 2022.
"The only option will be to drain it into the sea and dilute it," Yoshiaki Harada told a news briefing in Tokyo on Tuesday. "The whole of the government will discuss this, but I would like to offer my simple opinion." (UNI)