Japan set to release Fukushima water on Thursday

The plan, approved by the Japanese government two years ago, is put into motion on Thursday.
Photo: Str
Photo: Str

Japan says Tuesday that it will begin releasing more than 1 million metric tonnes of radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean on Thursday, August 24, reports news agency Reuters.

This puts into action a plan that has been heavily criticized by China and local fishermen groups who fear it will damage their reputation and threaten their livelihoods.

The plan was approved two years ago by the Japanese government as crucial to decommissioning the power plant, which is operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco).

”I have asked Tepco to swiftly prepare for the water discharge in accordance with the plan approved by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, and expect the water release to start on August 24, weather conditions permitting,” said Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Tuesday morning local time.

Japan has said that the water discharge is safe. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) greenlighted in June. The IAEA says the plan complies with international standards and that the impact it will have on residents and the environment is ”negligible”.

Still, some neighboring countries have expressed skepticism about whether the plan is safe.

China is the biggest critic. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in July that Japan was being selfish and arrogant and that it had not consulted the international community enough on the water discharge.

China has banned seafood imports from ten Japanese prefectures, including Fukushima and the capital, Tokyo.

South Korean activists have also protested the plan, even though the South Korean government itself has concluded that the water discharge is in line with international standards.

Japan says the water will be filtered to remove most radioactive elements except for tritium, a hydrogen isotope that is difficult to separate from water.

The treated water will be diluted so that the level of tritium is below internationally approved levels.

The water has been used to cool the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which was badly damaged during an earthquake in 2011.

(Translated using DeepL with additional editing by Simon Øst Vejbæk)

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