Japan discharges Fukushima waste water into the Pacific

Despite criticism, the floodgates at the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant were opened on Thursday.
Photo: Jung Yeon-je
Photo: Jung Yeon-je

Japan has begun discharging radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean on Thursday morning, reports news agency Reuters.

The water has been distilled after it was contaminated when the nuclear power plant was destroyed during an earthquake and subsequent tsunami in 2011.

However, it is still considered radioactive.

In total, more than one million tonnes of water from the Fukushima plant will be discharged into the Pacific Ocean.

At the same time as the discharge has begun, 14 people have been arrested during a demonstration against the discharge. This happened outside the Japanese embassy in South Korea’s capital, Seoul.

The protesters tried to enter the embassy, which led to their arrest, a witness at the scene told Reuters.

Both the Chinese and South Korean governments have reacted to the release of water from Fukushima on Thursday morning.

According to Reuters, South Korea’s prime minister, Han Duck-soo, said that a ban on the import of fish from the sea around Fukushima will be maintained for the time being.

The Prime Minister also calls on Japan to be ”transparent” about the release of the radioactive water.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs writes in a statement that the discharge is ”extremely selfish and irresponsible”.

”The ocean belongs to all humanity. To forcibly start the ocean discharge is an extremely selfish and irresponsible act in disregard of the global public interest,” the statement reads, according to the AFP news agency.

The plan to discharge the water was approved two years ago by the Japanese government. It has since drawn criticism from China and local fishermen, who fear that the radioactive water is harmful to the environment.

However, according to Japan, the discharge of the water is crucial to decommissioning the power plant, which is operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco).

The water has been used to cool the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

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

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