Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Japanese officials said Monday it is safe to dispose in the Pacific Ocean contaminated water that's been trapped inside the Fukushima nuclear power plant since its core meltdowns eight years ago.
The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry said water used to cool the fuel rods and groundwater from near the damaged plant was collected and stored at the plant site since 2011. Officials said the amount of radiation on the water's release in the ocean would be small compared to what humans are normally exposed to.
The Japanese government has stored one million tons of the contaminated water, but space is running out.
Tokyo Electric Power estimates the total amount of tritium in the water will be 860 trillion becquerels by January. The company said the starting dates of the disposal process have been set for 2020, 2025, 2030 and 2035. The amount of tritium in the water is expected to decay naturally over time.
Nearby countries have already expressed concern over the plan to dump in the ocean. South Korea announced last month it's regularly monitoring dozens of coastal areas and offshore zones near the peninsula to assess radiation levels. Seoul has already placed a ban on Japanese seafood from the disaster zone.
The 2011 disaster was triggered by an earthquake and led to the release of radioactive contamination in Fukishima Prefecture. The nuclear cores in units 1, 2 and 3 melted down, as a result. It was classified a Level 7 nuclear event -- the most serious rating -- and caused one cancer-related death. The only other Level 7 event in history was the 1986 meltdown at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station in Ukraine.