Japan To Release Fukushima Water From Thursday 24 August

Japan said today it will start releasing more than one million tonnes of treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant on Thursday, executing a plan that has drawn strong criticism from China.

The plan, approved two years ago by the Japanese government as crucial to further decommissioning efforts at the plant, has also been opposed by local fishing groups, who fear reputational damage and a threat to their livelihood.

Japan has maintained the water release is safe. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, also greenlighted the plan in July, saying it meets international standards and the impact it would have on people and the environment is “negligible”.

Still, some neighbouring countries have expressed scepticism over the safety of the plan, with Beijing emerging the biggest critic. China Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in July that Japan had shown selfishness and arrogance, and did not fully consult the international community about the release.

China bans seafood imports from 10 prefectures in Japan, including Fukushima and the capital, Tokyo. Seafood imports from other prefectures are allowed but must pass radioactivity tests and have proof of being produced outside the 10 banned prefectures.

South Korean activists have also protested against the plan, although Seoul has concluded from its own study that the water release meets international standards and said it respects the IAEA’s assessment.

Japan says the water will be filtered to remove most radioactive elements except for tritium, an isotope of hydrogen that is difficult to separate from water. The treated water will be diluted to well below internationally approved levels of tritium before being released into the Pacific.

The water was originally used to cool the fuel rods of Fukushima Daiichi after the reactor melted down in an accident caused by a huge tsunami in 2011 that battered Japan’s eastern coast.


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