Japan’s nuclear regulator approved a controversial plan that would release more than 1.3 million tonnes water from the Fukushima nuclear plant. This triggered a fierce response by China to potentially hazardous and unpredicted consequences for the environment.
“The disposal of nuclear-contaminated water in Fukushima could affect the global marine environment and the public health of Pacific-rim countries. It is by no means a private matter for Japan,”Wang Wenbin was the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson in response to Friday’s decision.
“If Japan insists on putting its own interests above the public interest of the international community and insists on taking the dangerous step, it will surely pay the price for its irresponsible behavior and leave a stain in history,”He concluded.
Fukushima Daiichi suffered its cooling systems destroyed in three meltdowns after it was hit by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake in 2011 and then a tsunami. At the time, large quantities of contaminated water flowed into the Pacific, prompting mass evacuations from areas along Japan’s east coast.
Water used in cooling the reactors after the event has been held in hundreds upon hundreds of tanks since then. It still has radioactive radioactive isotopes.
The disposal plan, officially approved by Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority on Friday, will see this wastewater released about one kilometer off the Fukushima prefecture coast through an underwater tunnel. Tokyo plans to start the process next spring. However, the release of tritium-contaminated wastewater may take many decades because it must be slowly released and diluted to Japanese standards.
Japanese authorities informed Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the operator of the plant on Friday that they should “try to reduce the amount of water contaminated with radioactive materials and streamline work toward the discharge.”
Japan has long considered the discharge plan to be the best option. This controversy continues in Japan. Fukushima Prefecture has seen protests by fishermen over the possibility that water contamination could harm wildlife and residents. South Korean activists and others in the region also oppose the plan. The Chinese government has repeatedly expressed concerns about the pollution.
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