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Radioactive water to end up in the Pacific. Chinese officials criticise Japan

Radioactive water to end up in the Pacific. Chinese officials criticise Japan

Image source: © canva
Natalia Witulska,
22.08.2023 13:00

More than one million tonnes of treated radioactive water will be released into the Pacific Ocean. The whole procedure will start as early as Thursday 24 August. The plan is heavily criticised by Chinese authorities.

The dangerous liquid comes from the Fukushima nuclear power plant destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan back in 2011.

The Japanese government met with a lot of criticism mainly from China, but also from local fishing groups who fear reputational damage that can ruin their livelihood, Reuters reports.

Japan will dispose of radioactive water

The decision to pour radioactive water into the Pacific was approved in 2021. At the time, Japanese authorities stressed that this was a key plan to help decommission the damaged nuclear power plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).

"I have asked Tepco to swiftly prepare for the water discharge in accordance with the plan approved by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, and expect the water release to start on August 24, weather conditions permitting," Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Tuesday 22 August.

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The first portion of infected water is expected to be more than 7,000 cubic metres and it will take 17 days to fully discharge it. According to reuters.com, this water will contain about 190 becquerels of tritium per litre, which is below the WHO safe limit for drinking water.

Japanese authorities maintain that the release of water from the nuclear power plant is safe. It is worth noting that in July 2023 the International Atomic Energy Agency (the UN nuclear regulator) approved the plan. At the time, it said that it met international standards and that the impact it would have on people and the environment was "negligible".

Japan authorities under criticism

Japan assures that the water will be filtered several times which will make most of the radioactive elements disappear from it. Only tritium, a hydrogen isotope which is difficult to filter, will remain in the water.

Despite all these assurances and the approval from the International Atomic Energy Agency, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida faced criticism, mainly from China. As we read on rmf24.pl, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in July that Japan had shown selfishness and arrogance and had not fully consulted the international community on the release of water. In addition, China banned seafood imports from 10 places in Japan, including Tokyo and Fukushima.

South Korea also initially disapproved of Japan's plan, but after the IAEA issued its opinion, its authorities said they believed everything would be carried out safely.

Source: reuters.com, rmf24.pl

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