Japan to release radioactive Fukushima wastewater into the Pacific Ocean after IAEA’s approval

Critics say that more studies are required to show how this discharge would affect aquatic life

By DTE Staff
Published: Friday 07 July 2023

As a result of the Tohoku earthquake which was followed by a 15-metre tsunami, the power supply and cooling of three Fukushima Daiichi reactors were disabled.

This nuclear accident began on March 11, 2011, where all three cores largely melted in the first three days, classifying the disaster as level 7 along with the Chernobyl Tragedy, according to the International Nuclear Event Scale.

Twelve years later, more than a million tonnes of wastewater lies in the plant and Japan wants to start releasing it into the Pacific Ocean.

While releasing contaminated water is part of the usual operating procedure for nuclear power plants, things are different when it comes to a nuclear tragedy.

After a two-year safety review, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and several scientists have endorsed the plan saying that the release “would have a negligible radiological impact to people and the environment.”

With this approval, Japan could start releasing the water this year which would continue over the next 30 years.

For the last two years, fishing communities and the seafood industry have vehemently raised concerns that consumers might avoid buying seafood fearing contamination.

Critics say that more studies are required to show how this discharge would affect aquatic life. Since Tepco, the power plant company failed to avert the 2011 disaster, there will be no recourse if contaminated water is accidentally released.

So, human rights experts are advising Tepco to keep the wastewater in tanks till better processing technologies are released.

As a result of this decision, China, South Korea and people of several island nations have expressed concerns. To assuage the angered public of his country, South Korean PM Han Duck-Soo even proposed to drink the Fukushima water.

Tepco plans to treat this wastewater through its Advanced Liquid Processing System which reduces most radioactive substances to acceptable standards except Carbon-14 and Tritium.

While the company suggests that the concentration of tritium will drop to background ocean levels within a few kilometers of the discharge site, scientists on a panel comprising 18 Pacific nations urge that there are several questions that are still left unanswered about the DNA altering Tritium and Carbon-14.

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