Japan and Fukushima treated water into the sea despite concerns

Japan and Fukushima treated water into the sea despite concerns

Kanako Mita and Sawako Utsumi

Modern Tokyo Times

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida promised that Japan would help to solve water-related issues that threaten the environment throughout the Asia-Pacific. He said this at the Fourth Asia-Pacific Water Summit. However, Japan is in the process of releasing treated water from the stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the sea.

The nuclear regulator of Japan formally sanctioned a plan to release treated water into the sea. This relates to the 1.3 million tons of treated water. 

Reuters reports, “Tepco plans to filter the contaminated water to remove harmful isotopes apart from tritium, which is hard to remove. Then it will be diluted and released to free up plant space and allow decommissioning to continue.”

Voice of America says, “Each day, the site produces 140 cubic meters of contaminated water — a combination of groundwater, seawater and rainwater that seeps into the area, and water used for cooling.”

Treated water – radionuclides are filtered to meet national guidelines – is then moved to storage tanks. However, with 1.3 million tons already stored, space is running out. TEPCO acknowledges that tritium remains. Yet experts claim that only large doses of tritium are harmful to humans. 

Naturally, the local fishing industry in Fukushima isn’t pleased with the proposed plans. Similarly, China and South Korea – and other nations – are skeptical. The fear is that the amount of treated water released will impact the environment and marine life. 

Hiroshi Kishi, the leader of Japan’s national fisheries cooperatives, notified Kishida earlier this year that he opposes the plan to release treated water into the sea. 

Kishi said, “I told (Prime Minister Fumio) Kishida our position to oppose the discharge remains exactly the same… We just hope people in the fisheries industry will be able to continue fishing with peace of mind.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) backs the plan of the nuclear regulator of Japan – and endorsed by the Kishida administration – concerning the release of treated water. Thus, the IAEA said it “will not cause any harm to the environment.” However, many people in Japan are skeptical because of the tarnished reputation of TEPCO. 

China says that Japan is “extremely irresponsible” and should listen to regional nations opposed to the plan. Spokesperson Wang Wenbin for the Foreign Ministry of China expressed his displeasure and the lack of Japan’s sincerity to regional countries that oppose the plan. 

NHK reports, “Wang told reporters that treated water is not an issue for Japan only, but it concerns the global marine environment and people’s health in the countries that border the Pacific Ocean.”

The Guardian reports, “Neighbouring South Korea, which still bans seafood imports from the region, has repeatedly voiced concern, claiming that discharging the water represented a “grave threat” to the marine environment.”

Lee Jay Walker says, “Yet similar to Kishida (and other past leaders of Japan) ignoring the voices of the people of Okinawa (Ryukyu) concerning the heavy concentration of the armed forces of America – it appears that he also seeks to bypass regional fears among the fishing sector in Fukushima.”

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