Energy & Environment

Contaminated water from Fukushima nuclear power plant could affect human DNA if released: Greenpeace

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Environmental rights organization Greenpeace warned that if contaminated water stored at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan was released into the ocean, the hazardous material could potentially harm human DNA. 

Greenpeace said that the 1.23 metric tons of water stored at the plant contain high levels of radioactive carbon, known as carbon-14, and tritium, which could disturb human DNA and have lasting consequences on the environment if released into the Pacific Ocean, according to CNN

Greenpeace released a new report Friday noting carbon-14 presents a “major contributor to collective human radiation dose and has the potential to damage human DNA.”

“These, together with other radionuclides in the water will remain hazardous for thousands of years with the potential to cause genetic damage. It’s one more reason why these plans have to be abandoned,” said Shaun Burnie, author of the report.

The nuclear power plant was the site of a disaster in 2011, after the Japan endured an earthquake and subsequent tsunami that disabled the power supply at Fukushima.

During the tsunami, the plant lost its ability to cool three reactors and later, the facility used water to cool them. Once the water served its purpose, it was contaminated and stored at the plant.  

But the facility is running out of space for the tons of hazardous water, and the Japanese government is under pressure to make a decision about its disposal, according to the outlet.  

The Japanese government delayed making a decision Friday handling the water after several environmental organizations came out against the proposed plan to release the water into the ocean.


Japan’s environment minister has said releasing the water into the ocean is the only solution to the problem.

While many environmental activists share concerns about the water’s radioactive materials, officials handling the matter are running out of time to decide on water disposal methods.

“In order to avoid the delay in decommission process of Fukushima Daiichi, we need to make a decision on how to deal with the processed water that increases every day,” said Industry Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama, adding that authorities should still address “voices of concern.”

Ryounosuke Takanori, a spokesperson for Tokyo Electric Power Company told CNN the concentration of carbon-14 contained in the treated water is around 2 to 220 becquerels per liter, as measured in the water tanks.

He added, “even if the water is continuously drunk by 2 liters every day, the annual exposure is about 0.001 to 0.11 millisieverts, which is not a level that affects health.”

Tags Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster Japan Nuclear and radiation accidents and incidents Radioactivity
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