- Japan will release 1 million treated water into the sea
- The process will take several years to initiate
- China stirs up controversy on the release
The Japanese government on Tuesday announced releasing more than a million tons of treated water from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean. This announcement triggered rage across China and fierce opposition from its local fishing community.
Though the process might take several years to be implemented it has struck a huge stir across the Chinese administration. Within hours of the announcement, China called the decision “extremely irresponsible”. To this, the Japanese government said that the release is safe because the water is processed to remove almost all radioactive elements and will be diluted.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has endorsed the release, which it says is similar to the disposal of wastewater at nuclear plants elsewhere in the world.
In a ministerial meeting, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told that disposing of the water was an “inevitable task” in the decades-long process of decommissioning the nuclear plant. He said the release would happen only “after ensuring the safety levels of the water” and alongside measures to “prevent reputational damage”.
Tomoaki Kobayakawa, president of the plant operator TEPCO, said it would “take thorough measures to prevent bad rumors” affecting local industries. Kanji Tachiya, who heads the local fisheries cooperative in Fukushima said’ They told us that they wouldn’t release the water into the sea without the support of fishermen.” The Japanese government has requested support from the fisherman as handling the release unilaterally was impossible. But local fishing communities fear releasing the water will undermine years of work to restore confidence in seafood from the region.
Following a tsunami in 2011, around 1.25 million tons of water have accumulated in tanks at the nuclear plant. An extensive pumping and filtration system known as “ALPS (Advanced Liquid Processing System)” extracts tons of newly contaminated water each day and filters out most radioactive elements.