Tokyo removes the last obstacle to the discharge of Fukushima treated water

World News
2023-07-07 | 08:58
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Tokyo removes the last obstacle to the discharge of Fukushima treated water
Tokyo removes the last obstacle to the discharge of Fukushima treated water

Tokyo has cleared the last hurdle on the path to implementing its plan to discharge treated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, while China announced that it will ban the import of food products from several regions in Japan for this reason.

Meanwhile, Seoul confirmed that Japan's plan to release water into the ocean from the Fukushima plant would have an "insignificant" impact on South Korea, aiming to alleviate the concerns of its growing population.

The approved measure, which was endorsed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, caused panic due to fears that water from Fukushima would contaminate the ocean and sea salt extracted from it.

The Japanese government's plan involves disposing of approximately 1.33 million tons of contaminated water stored at the plant site, which will soon reach its maximum capacity. The water will be treated and diluted before being discharged into the ocean.

The Fukushima plant suffered severe damage after a powerful earthquake followed by a tsunami led to a nuclear accident on March 11, 2011.

However, the plan has faced local and regional opposition.

IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi stated on Tuesday that this project "meets international safety standards" and would have a "negligible radiological impact on human health and the environment."

Japan announced that the discharge would begin this summer.

On Friday, Japan's nuclear regulator confirmed that the equipment and facilities for water disposal had successfully passed inspections.

The Japanese government spent months trying to win over public opinion domestically and internationally. They organized tours for researchers at the plant and conducted live-streamed experiments to demonstrate the preservation of marine life in the treated water.

However, these efforts did not convince Beijing, which accused Japan of treating the Pacific Ocean as a "sewer."

China's customs agency announced on Friday that it would prohibit the import of food products from ten Japanese regions following Tokyo's plan. They also stated that strict radiation tests would be conducted on food products from other parts of Japan.

In a statement on the messaging platform WeChat, the Chinese customs agency asserted that they would maintain a high level of vigilance without revealing the list of Japanese regions affected by the ban.

Meanwhile, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated to Agence France-Presse that they are "considering" potential response measures. An official from the ministry, who requested anonymity, said, "We will continue to urge the Chinese side to discuss (the issue) based on scientific viewpoints."

On the other hand, South Korea announced on Friday that it had conducted its own study of Tokyo's plan and concluded that it adheres to major international standards.

Bang Moon-kyu, the Minister of Policy Coordination in South Korea, stated in a press conference that their study, which focused on the potential impact of the water discharge on South Korean waters, revealed "insignificant consequences."

Bang added that it would take ten years for the treated water to reach the Korean Peninsula. Once it arrives, "the expected radiation level will be about 1/100,000 of the average level during normal times."

The Japanese government plans to discharge the water from the Fukushima plant into the ocean after treatment, removing all radioactive elements except for tritium. The process of decontamination and decommissioning the plant is expected to take several decades.

However, public concern over the plan remains high in South Korea. Some opposition lawmakers have initiated a hunger strike in protest, and residents rushed to purchase salt amid fears of ocean contamination.

In an interview with Agence France-Presse, Woo Won-shik, the opposition lawmaker on hunger strike since June 26, stated, "Japan wants to discharge wastewater into the sea because it is the easiest and cheapest way to do so."

In the Noryangjin Fish Market near Seoul, many vendors believe that opposition to Tokyo's plan is harming their businesses.

An 80-year-old vendor named Moon told Agence France-Presse, "Media coverage never helps us because it drives away customers."

International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi is expected to arrive in Seoul on Friday.

Grossi stated, "As the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it is my responsibility to appear and have a direct conversation with all stakeholders and try to answer the questions that arise in the best and most truthful way possible."


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