The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog approved a controversial plan that allows Japan to release treated radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean.
Approval of the plan comes 12 years after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown.
A 129-page report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) gives Japan the go-ahead for the controversial plan.
Release of the radioactive water reportedly will begin in weeks.
Japanese officials previously said dumping the wastewater into the ocean may be the ‘only choice.’
The plan will take decades to complete.
Reuters explained in this video report:
This summer, Japan will begin pumping Fukushima water into the ocean. The plan will see more than a million tons of treated radioactive water released and take decades to complete. So how will it work? Let’s take a look ⬇️ https://t.co/g8AhoGoxMp pic.twitter.com/2IlIv4gkHd
— Reuters (@Reuters) July 5, 2023
The plan to release treated wastewater has been in the works for years, with the environment minister declaring in 2019 there were “no other options” as space runs out to contain the contaminated material.
Rafael Grossi, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), arrived in Japan on Tuesday to visit Fukushima and present the UN body’s safety review to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
But the UN’s approval has done little to reassure rattled residents in neighboring countries, and local fishermen who still feel the impact of the 2011 disaster.
Some have cast doubt on the IAEA’s findings, with China recently arguing that the group’s assessment “is not proof of the legality and legitimacy” of Fukushima’s wastewater release.
According to The Straits Times, the entire release of Fukushima Daiichi is expected to last until 2051.
Critics continue to voice their concerns about the radioactive water.
The International Atomic Energy Agency declared the water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant safe, one of the last steps before Japan decides to release treated radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. Critics continue to demand more transparency. https://t.co/3HUHAQfxUD
— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 5, 2023
The Straits Times reports:
Despite Japan’s safety avowals, its plan has been lambasted by its neighbours including China, South Korea and some Pacific Island nations. Local fishermen, fearing damage to their livelihoods, have likewise opposed the discharge.
While the IAEA stressed that its report was “neither a recommendation nor an endorsement” of Japan’s water discharge decision, Tokyo regards it as a neutral approval to proceed.
Contaminated water is first treated to remove radioactive nuclides except tritium, a naturally occurring isotope of hydrogen that is a routine by-product of nuclear plants worldwide. It is then further diluted with seawater before ejection 1km from shore.
IAEA director-general Rafael Mariano Grossi told a news conference in Tokyo that his agency’s “comprehensive, neutral, objective and scientifically sound” evaluation showed that the planned discharge was consistent with global industry and safety standards.
He stressed that the discharge will have “negligible radiological impact to people and the environment”, including marine animals and plants.
“This process of dilution, and chemical and other filtering, is nothing new. It’s something that exists in the industry,” he said, adding that the method is also used by nuclear plants in countries such as China, South Korea, the United States and France.