Fukushima: Contaminated water could damage human DNA, Greenpeace says

Contaminated water from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant contains a radioactive substance that has the potential to damage human DNA, a report by Greenpeace says.

The claim from the environmental campaign group follows media reports suggesting the government plans to release the water into the ocean.

In its report Stemming the tide 2020: The reality of the Fukushima radioactive water crisis released on Friday, Greenpeace claimed the contaminated water contained “dangerous levels of carbon-14”, a radioactive substance that it says has the “potential to damage human DNA”.

Environmental groups have long expressed their opposition to releasing the water into the ocean. And fishing groups have argued against it, saying consumers will refuse to buy produce from the region.

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Many scientists say the risk is low but environmentalists oppose the idea.

The government has not yet responded to the Greenpeace report.

For years Japan has debated over what to do with the more than a million tonnes of water used to cool the power station, which went into meltdown in 2011 after being hit by a massive tsunami.

Space to store the liquid – which includes groundwater and rain that seeps daily into the plant – will fill up by 2022.

The government says most of the radioactive isotopes have been removed using a complex filtration process but one isotope, tritium, cannot be removed.

Last week Japanese media reported that the government had decided to start releasing the water into the sea from 2022. Under the reported plans, the water would be diluted inside the plant first in a process that would take several decades.

The group accused the government of suggesting the water was “treated” giving the impression it “only contains tritium”.

However some scientists say the water would quickly be diluted in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, and that tritium poses a low risk to human and animal health.

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