Japan will start releasing more than 1 million metric tons of treated radioactive water from its destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean in two years, the government said Tuesday — a plan that faces opposition at home and has raised “grave concern” in neighboring countries. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said dealing with the treated water is “an unavoidable issue” in order to decommission the nuclear plant. “We have decided that guaranteeing safety far above the accepted standard, and ensuring the entire government’s best efforts to prevent reputational damage, means releasing it to the ocean is a realistic option,” he said.
In 2011, a powerful earthquake and tsunami cut off power supply and cooling systems for the Fukushima plant. To prevent its three damaged reactor cores from melting, cooling water was pumped in continuously, and was thus contaminated by uranium fuel rods. The water then leaked into damaged basements and tunnels, and mixed with groundwater. The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., has built massive tanks on the site to store the accumulating water after treatment. The tanks have a storage capacity of 1.37 million metric tons, and are expected to be filled up late next year, according to the company.
Japan’s safety assurances have failed to assuage the fears of its neighbors South Korea and China. On Tuesday, South Korea voiced “grave concerns” at Japan’s water release plan, saying the decision could “directly or indirectly affect the safety of the Korean people and the surrounding environment in the future.” China has also expressed “grave concern,” calling on Japan to handle the wastewater release “in a responsible manner.” In a statement Tuesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Japan had not exhausted safe disposal methods and did not conduct full consultation with neighboring countries and the international community. The United States, meanwhile, showed support for its ally’s decision.” We look forward to the (Japanese government’s) continued coordination and communication as it monitors the effectiveness of this approach.”
Post time: May-10-2021