Crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant still raises concerns

Fishers in Fukushima are concerned about reputational damage as the release of treated and diluted water from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is scheduled to begin this spring or summer.

Locals are still struggling to overcome negative rumors even though 12 years have passed since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.

Yotsuguri Hisamitsu lost his home to the tsunami and his livelihood to the nuclear crisis. He and his colleagues stopped shipping their catches after radioactive substances were detected in some of them.

He resumed fishing four years later, but the region's fishing industry has not yet recovered to its pre-disaster level. Yotsuguri is worried that the treated water release may worsen the reputational damage.

He said, "We fishers catch and sell fish. That's it. I just want them to be safe."

Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, operates the nuclear plant. Water pumped in to cool the plant's molten fuel mixes with rain and groundwater. TEPCO has been treating it by filtering out most of the radioactive substances, but it can't remove the hydrogen isotope tritium.

The water will be diluted with seawater before it is discharged. The government says the level of radioactive tritium will be lowered to one-seventh of World Health Organization standards for drinking water.