Japan will pour water from the nuclear plant into the sea

William Johnson

-Eulien Ryall

Nuclear Plant Water : Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) claims to have filtered the contaminated water from the nuclear plant to the point where it can be discharged into the sea. Common people and neighboring countries are among those who oppose this plan.

The process of removing contaminated water from the 2011 accident at Fukushima’s Daiichi nuclear plant will take decades. About 1.3 million tons of radioactive water are filled in the tanks at the accident site. This is enough water to fill 500 Olympic swimming pools.

The way forward for Japan’s plan to drain water was cleared on Tuesday when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a report that Japan’s plan met international safety standards. The IAEA has given a green flag saying that the radioactivity of water discharged into the sea will have negligible impact on the environment.

Even though the Japanese people have been assured that the radioactivity of Fukushima’s water has been completely cleaned and the best solution is to dump it into the sea, it is difficult for Japan’s neighboring countries to accept it so easily. There is a political movement in South Korea on this issue. The parties are raising their voices against it.

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What is the plan to pour water into the sea?

Tepco, which runs the Fukushima plant, has been filtering radioactive water so that only tritium remains in it. The company will dilute the water until it reaches a tritium neutralization level. Tritium is an element that is very difficult to separate from water.

Tritium-rich water from nuclear plants around the world is released into the ocean, so regulators decided to do the same with Fukushima’s water. Tritium is relatively less harmful because it cannot penetrate the human skin. However, according to an article published in Scientific America in 2014, if it enters the human body, the risk of cancer may increase. The process of filtering and diluting the water through rolling filters and discarding it will take decades, along with the complete decommissioning of the plant.

Angry China

China’s foreign ministry said on Thursday that Japan has not openly discussed the plan with the international community and that China is closely monitoring it to assess its impact. Chinese ambassador to Japan, Wu Jianghao, supported Beijing in a press conference and said, “It has never happened before that water has been dumped into the sea after a nuclear accident.”

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Jianghao said that after the Fukushima accident, China stopped buying food from the areas of north-eastern Japan that were most affected by the accident. It was hinted that by applying this ban to the entire country, the import of Japanese seafood could be completely banned.

Environmental issues

Organizations working for the environment have also raised their voices against it. Demonstrations took place in Seoul, the capital of South Korea, demanding the withdrawal of the IAEA report approving the Japanese government’s plan. The Greenpeace organization has alleged that Japan is violating the United Nations Law of the Sea.

Hajime Matsukubo, secretary general of the Nuclear Information Center, a Tokyo-based non-governmental organization, is also concerned about the government’s plan. Speaking to DW, Matsekubo said, “We don’t agree with the decision at all and we think the government had other options. There is no reason why more tanks cannot be built at the accident site. The water is collected underground. Reservoirs could be dug and better methods of removing radioactivity from the water could be used”.

Criticism of the IAEA

Matsukubo also says that the Japanese government is moving too fast to move forward with the government’s plan to start water extraction before the end of the summer, relying on the IAEA report, but there is no roadmap that the government can use to get the water off the ground. How will the plant finally be shut down? They raise the question, TEPCO has been saying that removing water is very important to close the plant, but no detailed timetable has been put forward as to how the power station will be closed, then why is it so important?

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In early June, TEPCO itself released a report which said that despite being treated, more than 70 percent of the discharged water does not meet the legal standards for radioactivity. The company downplayed the concerns, saying the water would be modified until it met standards.

However, the Japanese hope that the release of water from the tanks, 12 years after the world’s second-biggest nuclear disaster, will be a milestone towards shutting down the Fukushima plant. However, this will take about 40 years and will require technology that can handle the collection and disposal of nuclear waste. Such technology is yet to be developed.

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-Eulien Ryall

Nuclear Plant Water : Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) claims to have filtered the contaminated water from the nuclear plant to the point where it can be discharged into the sea. Common people and neighboring countries are among those who oppose this plan.

The process of removing contaminated water from the 2011 accident at Fukushima’s Daiichi nuclear plant will take decades. About 1.3 million tons of radioactive water are filled in the tanks at the accident site. This is enough water to fill 500 Olympic swimming pools.

The way forward for Japan’s plan to drain water was cleared on Tuesday when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a report that Japan’s plan met international safety standards. The IAEA has given a green flag saying that the radioactivity of water discharged into the sea will have negligible impact on the environment.

Even though the Japanese people have been assured that the radioactivity of Fukushima’s water has been completely cleaned and the best solution is to dump it into the sea, it is difficult for Japan’s neighboring countries to accept it so easily. There is a political movement in South Korea on this issue. The parties are raising their voices against it.

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What is the plan to pour water into the sea?

Tepco, which runs the Fukushima plant, has been filtering radioactive water so that only tritium remains in it. The company will dilute the water until it reaches a tritium neutralization level. Tritium is an element that is very difficult to separate from water.

Tritium-rich water from nuclear plants around the world is released into the ocean, so regulators decided to do the same with Fukushima’s water. Tritium is relatively less harmful because it cannot penetrate the human skin. However, according to an article published in Scientific America in 2014, if it enters the human body, the risk of cancer may increase. The process of filtering and diluting the water through rolling filters and discarding it will take decades, along with the complete decommissioning of the plant.

Angry China

China’s foreign ministry said on Thursday that Japan has not openly discussed the plan with the international community and that China is closely monitoring it to assess its impact. Chinese ambassador to Japan, Wu Jianghao, supported Beijing in a press conference and said, “It has never happened before that water has been dumped into the sea after a nuclear accident.”

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Jianghao said that after the Fukushima accident, China stopped buying food from the areas of north-eastern Japan that were most affected by the accident. It was hinted that by applying this ban to the entire country, the import of Japanese seafood could be completely banned.

Environmental issues

Organizations working for the environment have also raised their voices against it. Demonstrations took place in Seoul, the capital of South Korea, demanding the withdrawal of the IAEA report approving the Japanese government’s plan. The Greenpeace organization has alleged that Japan is violating the United Nations Law of the Sea.

Hajime Matsukubo, secretary general of the Nuclear Information Center, a Tokyo-based non-governmental organization, is also concerned about the government’s plan. Speaking to DW, Matsekubo said, “We don’t agree with the decision at all and we think the government had other options. There is no reason why more tanks cannot be built at the accident site. The water is collected underground. Reservoirs could be dug and better methods of removing radioactivity from the water could be used”.

Criticism of the IAEA

Matsukubo also says that the Japanese government is moving too fast to move forward with the government’s plan to start water extraction before the end of the summer, relying on the IAEA report, but there is no roadmap that the government can use to get the water off the ground. How will the plant finally be shut down? They raise the question, TEPCO has been saying that removing water is very important to close the plant, but no detailed timetable has been put forward as to how the power station will be closed, then why is it so important?

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In early June, TEPCO itself released a report which said that despite being treated, more than 70 percent of the discharged water does not meet the legal standards for radioactivity. The company downplayed the concerns, saying the water would be modified until it met standards.

However, the Japanese hope that the release of water from the tanks, 12 years after the world’s second-biggest nuclear disaster, will be a milestone towards shutting down the Fukushima plant. However, this will take about 40 years and will require technology that can handle the collection and disposal of nuclear waste. Such technology is yet to be developed.

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