Fukushima water to be released into ocean in next few months, says Japan

The controversial release of more than a million tonnes of water from the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant will begin in the northern spring or summer, Japan’s government has said – a move that has sparked anger among local fishing communities and countries in the region.

The decision comes more than two years after the government approved the release of the water, which will be treated to remove most radioactive materials but will still contain tritium, a naturally occurring radioactive form of hydrogen that is technically difficult to separate from water.

Japanese officials insist the “treated” water will not pose a threat to human health or the marine environment, but the plans face opposition from fishermen who say it risks destroying their livelihoods, almost 12 years after a magnitude-9.0 earthquake triggered a huge tsunami that killed more than 18,000 people along Japan’s north-east coast.

Tsunami waves crashed into Fukushima Daiichi, knocking out its backup electricity supply, triggering meltdowns in three of its reactors and sending large quantities of radiation into the atmosphere in the most serious nuclear accident since Chornobyl a quarter of a century earlier.

The wastewater in Fukushima is being stored in more than 1,000 tanks that officials say need to be removed so the plant can be decommissioned – a process expected to take 30 to 40 years.

Japan’s foreign ministry said in July that regulators had deemed it safe to release the water, which will be