Fukushima water to be released into ocean in next few months, says Japan | Fukushima
The controversial release of more than a million tonnes of water from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will begin in spring or northern summer, the Japanese government has said – a move that has sparked outrage among local fishing communities and countries in the region.
The decision comes more than two years after the government approved the release of the water, which will be treated to remove most of the radioactive material but will still contain tritium, a naturally occurring radioactive form of hydrogen that is technically difficult to separate from water. .
Japanese officials insist the “treated” water will not pose a threat to human health or the marine environment, but the plans face opposition from fishermen who say it risks destroying their livelihoods, almost 12 years after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake caused a great tsunami killed more than 18,000 people along the northeast coast of Japan.
Tsunami waves crashed into Fukushima Daiichi, knocking out its backup power supply, causing meltdowns in three of its reactors and sending huge amounts of radiation into the atmosphere in the worst nuclear accident since Chornobyl a quarter of a century ago. seen.
Sewage at Fukushima is being stored in more than 1,000 tanks that officials say must be removed so the plant can be dismantled — a process expected to take 30 to 40 years.
Japan’s Foreign Ministry said in July that regulators had deemed it safe to release the water, which will be gradually discharged into the Pacific Ocean via a tunnel after being treated and diluted.
The operator of the plan, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), has said its water treatment technology – known as Alpe – can remove all radioactive material from the water except tritium, which it says is harmless in small amounts. small.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has also noted that nuclear power plants around the world use a similar process to dispose of wastewater containing low concentrations of tritium and other radionuclides.
South Korea and China have expressed concern over the release, while the Pacific Islands Forum recently said it had “serious concerns” about the proposed release.
Writing in the Guardian, the forum’s secretary-general, Henry Puna, said Japan “must halt any such publication until we are certain of the implications of this proposal on the environment and human health, especially recognizing that most of our peoples of the Pacific are coastal peoples and that the ocean continues to be an integral part of their survival lifestyle”.
The South Korean government, which has yet to lift its ban on seafood in Fukushima, has said the release of water would pose a “major threat” to marine life. Fishing unions in the area oppose the release, warning it would cause alarm among consumers and undermine more than a decade of efforts to assure the public that Fukushima’s seafood is safe to eat.
Under the plan approved by Japan’s cabinet on Friday, fishermen who fear the release will affect their livelihoods will be able to access a new fund of ¥50 billion ($385 million), the agency said. Kyodo news.
“We would like to fully explain these measures to fishing communities and other relevant parties by listening to their concerns,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at the meeting, according to Kyodo.
The liquid, which Japanese officials claim is “treated” rather than “contaminated,” includes water used to cool damaged reactors and rain and groundwater seeping into the area.
Kyodo said the IAEA had conducted several safety reviews of the plan and would issue a report based on its findings, as well as provide support before, during and after the download.