Activists protest against the planned release of wastewater from Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean Activists protest against the planned release of wastewater from Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean  (AFP or licensors)

Japan to discharge treated Fukushima water into ocean

Japan announces it will implement its decision to release more than 1 million metric tonnes of treated radioactive water into the sea this week with assurances the impact on people and the environment will be "negligible", but the plan is causing alarm across Asia and the Pacific.

By Linda Bordoni

Tokyo on Tuesday reaffirmed its intention to go ahead with its plan and start to discharge 1.34 million tonnes of accumulated treated radioactive wastewater into the Pacific Ocean on August 24, weather conditions permitting.

The Japanese government describes it as a crucial step to decommission the plant as space runs out for the storage of contaminated water that has been collected in tanks for over a decade.

Fishing groups say they fear the reputational damage would ruin their livelihood and the plan has caused a ripple of alarm across Asia and the Pacific, and environmental activists have described the act as "no different from crime".

Worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl

The disaster, caused by the 2011 tsunami that flooded three reactors of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, is regarded as the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

Experts say the water will initially be released in small portions and with extra checks and will contain levels of tritium per litre that are well below the World Health Organisation's drinking water limit.

The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, greenlighted the plan in July, saying that it met international standards and that the impact it would have on people and the environment was "negligible".

Some neighbouring governments said they would "immediately activate" import controls on Japanese seafood. Some also threaten to impose a ban on live, frozen, refrigerated and dried seafood, as well as sea salt and seaweed.

Japanese officials – on their part - say the first test results of the seawater after the discharge may be available at the start of September and that fish will also be tested in the waters near the plant, with results available and visible to all on the agriculture ministry's website. (Source: Reuters and other agencies)

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22 August 2023, 17:51