Fukushima plant groundwater dumping in sea to begin in May or later

The planned dumping in the sea of groundwater at the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex will start in May or later, the industry minister said Sunday.

Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the plant crippled by the March 2011 quake and tsunamis, has not said when a system to move groundwater to the nearby sea will start operating.

Under the plan, the groundwater, several hundred tons of which is flowing into the plant's premises a day, is to be pumped up before it gets mixed with highly radioactive water in the basement of crippled reactor buildings.

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said in a meeting with local fishermen the release of groundwater into the sea will not take place before the season for catching young sand lance ends at the end of April.

Motegi also said the government and TEPCO will reply on April 4 in writing to the request made by Fukushima fishermen's group for steps to ensure that radiation levels of water to be released into the sea will not exceed stringent levels specifically set for the groundwater bypass plan.