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Japan Releases Radioactive Wastewater Into Pacific Ocean

Japan on Thursday started the controversial release of radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The release has heightened tensions in the region, with China calling the move a “selfish and irresponsible act.”

China announced they would ban seafood from Japan.

“Japanese fisher groups had opposed the plan fearing damage to their livelihoods,” the Associated Press writes.

“The discharge began 1 p.m. local time (midnight ET), according to state-owned electricity firm Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO),” CNN reports.

More from AP:

People inside and outside the country protested the wastewater release, with Japanese fishing groups fearing it will further damage the reputation of their seafood and groups in China and South Korea raising concerns, making it a political and diplomatic issue.

In response to the wastewater release, Chinese customs authorities banned seafood from Japan, customs authorities announced Thursday. The ban started immediately and will affect all imports of “aquatic products” including seafood, according to the notice. Authorities said they will “dynamically adjust relevant regulatory measures as appropriate to prevent the risks of nuclear-contaminated water discharge to the health and food safety of our country.”

Shortly after China’s announcement, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings President Tomoaki Kobayakawa said the utility was preparing to compensate Japanese business owners appropriately for damages suffered by export bans from “the foreign government.” He said China is a key trading partner and he will do his utmost to provide scientific explanations of the release so the ban will be dropped as soon as possible.

The release of the radioactive wastewater is expected to take several decades.


CNN added:

The company said it expects to discharge only around 200 or 210 cubic meters of treated wastewater. From Friday, it plans to then continuously release 456 cubic meters of treated wastewater over a 24-hour period and a total of 7,800 cubic meters over a 17-day period.

TEPCO said that the operation would be suspended immediately and an investigation conducted if any abnormalities are detected in the discharge equipment or the dilution levels of the treated wastewater.

It will send a boat later Thursday into the harbor to collect samples to monitor and ensure the discharged treated wastewater meets international safety standards.

Japan’s devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami caused water within the Fukushima nuclear plant to be contaminated with highly radioactive material. Since then, new water has been pumped in to cool fuel debris in the reactors, while ground and rainwater have leaked in, creating more radioactive wastewater.

The plan to release the water has been in the works for years, with authorities warning in 2019 that space was running out to store the material and they had “no other options” but to release it in a treated and highly diluted form.


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