Japan releases polluted water from the Fukushima nuclear power station into the sea

Japan plans to release more than 1 million tonnes of polluted water into the sea from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power station, the government said on Tuesday, a decision that is likely to anger South Korean neighbors.

The move, more than a decade after the nuclear disaster, will give another blow to the fishing industry in Fukushima, which has opposed such a move for several years.

Work on discharging the water will begin in about two years, the government said, and the whole process is expected to take decades. “Based on strict compliance with regulatory standards that have been established, we are choosing to be released from the sea,” the government said in a statement after relevant ministers formalized the decision.

The water must be filtered again to remove harmful isotopes and will be diluted to meet international standards before being released.

The decision comes about three months before the postponed Olympic Games to be held by Tokyo, with some events planned as close as 60 km from the destroyed facility.

The disposal of polluted water from the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which is operated by Tokyo Electric Power, has proved to be a thorny issue for Japan as it is conducting a decades-long decommissioning project.