Here we go. TEPCO plans to discharge water from the wells that they have dug to intercept part of the groundwater before it leaks into the reactor buildings, into the Pacific Ocean.
400 tonnes of groundwater go into the basements of the reactor buildings every day. The 14 wells to intercept that water can only divert about one-quarter of it. It is better than no diversion, but not by much.
TEPCO has been laying the pipes to transport the water from the wells to the ocean.
As a measure to decrease the amount of groundwater going into the reactor building, this is not much of a help, but it is precedent-making. Discharge of groundwater into the Pacific Ocean, albeit supposedly uncontaminated water for now, may start as soon as this month, with the local fishing industry set to approve the plan.
The TEPCO's true desire is no secret: to discharge water treated by ALPS (multi-nuclide removal system), clean of almost all radionuclides except for tritium, which there is no effective way to remove.
From Kahoku Shinpo (5/8/2013):
Groundwater at Fukushima I Nuke Plant to be discharged to the ocean this month, TEPCO says "No safety problem"
TEPCO plans to release the groundwater drawn from the wells inside the plant compound into the ocean, as part of the measures to deal with water contaminated with radioactive materials at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. According to TEPCO, the groundwater is not contaminated as the water is drawn before it gets contaminated, and there is no problem of safety. After obtaining the approval from the local municipalities and fishing industry, the company will start [releasing the water] before May is over.
A large amount of groundwater leaks into the reactor buildings of Reactors 1-4, which then mixes with the reactor cooling water to generate about 400 tonnes of contaminated water per day. The water to be released into the ocean is the groundwater that is drawn by pumps [into the wells] before it reaches the reactor buildings, and according to TEPCO, "Density of cesium-137 is less than 1 Bq/liter, and it is no different from normal groundwater."
TEPCO will announce the plan on May 13 at a meeting of the heads of the Federations of Fishery Cooperatives in Fukushima Prefecture, and try to win their understanding. The Federations' president (Tetsu Nozaki) is set to approve the plan, as he says "We would like [TEPCO] to proceed by carefully testing the water [for radioactive materials]."
Takao Watanabe, Mayor of Iwaki City, says "Will consumers accept TEPCO's word that "it is not contaminated"? I cannot approve [the plan] at this point."
"At this point" is the key for Mayor Watanabe. He is free to change his opinion on May 13, or any other day. He can also join other mayors and farmers and fishermen in Fukushima Prefecture in crying "baseless rumors" by ignorant consumers.