Water from wrecked nuclear plant exceeding storage capacity . . .
The Japanese government announced its decision on Tuesday to release 1.25 million tonnes of radiation-contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean. The water would be released in two years, pending final approval from the Nuclear Regulation Authority. The contaminated water has been accumulating in storage tanks since 2011 when a tsunami struck the region and has been used to cool the overheated reactors at the destroyed Daiichi nuclear power plant ever since. According to the Japanese government, the amount of wastewater at the site will soon exceed the facility’s storage capacity and is stalling the decommissioning of the ruined reactors.
Environmentalists, neighbours in an uproar . . .
Despite Japan’s assurance it will filter and dilute the contaminated water before discharging it, the announcement has sparked outrage among environmentalists, fisheries, and neighbouring countries. South Korea has called for more transparency, consultation, and safety verifications, with President Moon Jae-in reportedly exploring the possibility of international litigation. The Chinese government has slammed the plan as an “extremely irresponsible” decision that will have serious implications for the Pacific maritime environment, food safety, and the health of people living in the region. Meanwhile, the U.S. government has voiced support for the Japanese government’s approach, saying it is “in accordance with globally accepted nuclear safety standards.”
A cartoon spin falls flat . . .
As part of its effort to boost domestic support for the wastewater discharge, the Japanese government introduced a cartoon character named ‘Little Mr. Tritium’ for the main radionuclide that would not be successfully eliminated given the current purifying technology. The cartoon was shelved one day after its first appearance, facing criticism in the Diet and among many Japanese for its inappropriate levity. Although the International Atomic Energy Agency regards the release of a small amount of Tritium as a common practice by nuclear facilities around the world, the reputational damage is becoming a serious concern to Japan’s fishery and agricultural sectors, which have faced a decade-long struggle to rebuild and resume business following the nuclear disaster.
- Nikkei: Japan approves release of Fukushima plant water into sea
- South China Morning Post: Why is Japan dumping radioactive water at sea?
- The Asahi Shimbun: Fishermen: Water decision ruins 10 years of rebuilding efforts