The Government of Japan decided on Tuesday that the contaminated water stored in the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant will be dumped into the Pacific , after treating it to remove most of the radioactive elements.
This controversial measure is aimed at solving the accumulation of radioactive water in the nuclear facilities of the plant, one of the most pressing problems within the complex process of dismantling the facility that was damaged by the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011.
What to know about Fukushima water
The Prime Minister of Japan, Yoshihide Suga, made this decision in a meeting with his Government Cabinet, after submitting it to consultations with the operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power, with the Japanese nuclear regulator, the International Atomic Energy Agency. (IAEA) and with the local authorities of Fukushima, among other parties.
Suga described the measure as “inevitable” for the dismantling of the plant, as well as the “most realistic” option of those available, according to said in statements during the meeting collected by the state broadcaster NHK.
The controlled discharge of water from the plant was the solution that the Japanese authorities had opted for since the beginning of last year, considering it the most viable among a range of other technically more complex options, but the final decision had been delayed due to to the opposition of the Government of Fukushima and local fishermen’s associations , who consider that the spill could further damage their economic activities, among the worst hit by the 2011 nuclear accident .
The Japanese authorities maintain that the spill will not generate any risk to human health because the levels of tritium released into the sea will be below national sanitary standards -because it is mixed with seawater-, and they defend that this is a common practice in the nuclear industry of other countries.
Suga affirmed that the government “will make efforts” to clear up the concern generated by the spill, and affirmed that the government plan “has been studied by experts for more than 6 years” and has the approval of the IAEA.
This is the water stored in huge tanks and from the cooling of damaged nuclear reactor cores, as well as from underground aquifers and rain that seep and end up contaminated with radioactive isotopes.
The Fukushima Daiichi facilities have a water processing system that removes most of the radioactive materials considered dangerous, with the exception of tritium, an isotope present in nature although in low concentration. More than 1.25 million tonnes of processed water is stored at Daiichi’s facilities, and the capacity for its storage is expected to be exhausted in the autumn of next year at the current rate at which that liquid is generated.
The Japanese Executive plans to carry out the controlled dumping for two years from the decision taken today, Suga explained.
China “gravely concerned” by spill
In a statement posted on its website, the Chinese Foreign Ministry protested the Japanese decision, taken according to Beijing ” without full consultation with neighboring countries.and the international community “and” without having exhausted safe disposal methods. “” The ocean is a shared property of humanity.
The discharge of nuclear wastewater from the Fukushima plant is not only a national matter (of Japan), “the text said. China also urged Japan to” recognize its own responsibilities, maintain a scientific attitude, comply with its international obligations. and respond to the serious concerns of the international community, neighboring countries and their citizens. “” China will continue to work with the international community to follow up on events and reserves the right to make other responses, “the text added.
Seoul regrets the decision
South Korea urged Tokyo to be transparent about how the liquid is treated before disposing of it. “The government deeply regrets the Japanese government’s decision to release contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean,” Koo Yoon-cheol, director of the South Korean Executive’s political coordination office, told a news conference.
His appearance came after Koo chaired an emergency meeting with vice ministers from various portfolios following the announcement made today by Tokyo. “With regard to this decision, we will clearly convey the message of our people to the Government of Japan.
We will demand specific measures on the part of Japan to certify the safety of our population and prevent damage to the marine environment,” Koo added in statements collected by the agency Yonhap.
The official added that Seoul will strengthen radiation testing on products imported from Japan and other regions and will refer its concern to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and urge the international community to review the case.