September 30, 2023

Japan to Determine Fate of Fukushima Water Discharge on Tuesday

Japanese Government to Decide on Discharge of Treated Radioactive Water from Fukushima Plant

Tokyo, Japan – The Japanese government is set to make a crucial decision this week regarding the discharge of treated radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean. The plant has accumulated approximately 1.34 million tonnes of water since the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

Plant operator TEPCO has announced that the space to store the water has run out. With around 1,000 steel tanks already full, they propose gradually releasing the water into the Pacific through an underwater pipe. The timing of the water release will be decided in a ministerial meeting scheduled for Tuesday.

Over the past 12 years, the water has been collected from various sources at the Fukushima site, including water used to cool melted-down reactors, groundwater, and rain. According to TEPCO, the water has been treated to remove all radioactive substances except tritium, which is present below dangerous levels.

The United Nations atomic watchdog has supported TEPCO’s plan, stating that it would have minimal radiological impact on both people and the environment. Nevertheless, environmental organization Greenpeace opposes the plan, arguing that the filtration process is flawed and that a significant amount of radioactive material will be dispersed into the sea in the coming decades.

China has strongly criticized Japan’s decision, accusing the country of treating the ocean like a “sewer.” As a result, China has implemented a ban on food shipments from 10 Japanese prefectures. Hong Kong has also threatened to impose restrictions on Japanese seafood imports.

The concerns of Japan’s fisheries industry are prominent, as they fear the potential damage to the reputation of Japanese seafood abroad. In response, Prime Minister Kishida has promised a 30-billion-yen ($206m) fund to compensate local fishermen for any reputational harm caused.

To win over public opinion, the government has taken various measures, including livestreaming fish that live in the treated water and countering online disinformation. South Korea, despite initial concerns from the public, has found the plan to be in line with international standards.

It is important to note that the release of the treated water is only one aspect of the larger clean-up process at the Fukushima plant. The more dangerous tasks of removing radioactive debris and highly dangerous nuclear fuel from the three reactors still remain.

As Japan moves forward with its decision on discharging the treated radioactive water, the world will be closely watching the potential impact on the environment and food supply, as well as the efforts to ensure the safety and reputation of Japanese seafood.