May 30, 2024
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By Arab News

TOKYO, Japan: Japan has announced that it will begin releasing radioactive water treated at the Fukushima nuclear reactor into the Pacific Ocean beginning Thursday. This plan is being heavily criticised by China as well as a seafood ban.

Japanese fishing groups expressed concern that the release could damage their reputation.

Japan insists the release of water is safe. IAEA, UN’s nuclear watchdog agency also endorsed the plan last July. It said it met standards internationally and that the impacts on people and nature were “negligible.”

Hong Kong and Macau, both Chinese-ruled territories, have said that despite such assurances they will ban Japanese seafood imported from Fukushima as well as the Japanese capital Tokyo starting this Thursday. China’s foreign ministry announced on Wednesday that it will also implement necessary measures in order to protect the marine environment, food security and public safety.

Wang Wenbin of the Chinese Foreign Ministry has described the act as “extremely selfish”. He also said that China had filed a formal protest against the ruling.

South Korea’s opposition majority party and civil groups throughout the country intensified protests Wednesday against Japan’s plan. Yoon Suk Yeol’s government was criticized after it said that their own evaluation found no issues with the scientific or technical aspects of this release.

Hong Kong chief executive John Lee branded the discharge “irresponsible.” He also said the city was imposing import controls for live, chilled, frozen, and dried seafoods, sea salt, and seaweed.

Masanobu Sakamoto, president of the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations said Monday that the local fishing associations understood that the release was scientifically sound but still were concerned about their reputation.

The two things are different: being told something is “scientifically safe” and feeling confident. “Proof that the water released is scientifically secure may not eliminate reputational damages,” he stated.

Japan will purge the majority of radioactive materials from its water. The only exception is tritium. This isotope is difficult to filter and must therefore be dilute.

Tepco (the operator of Fukushima Power Plant) said Tuesday that the water discharge will be done in small portions at first and with additional checks. The initial release is expected to total 7,800 cubic meters spread over 17 days.

Tepco says that the tritium content of this water is 190 becquerels/liter. That’s below WHO drinking water limits of 10,000 becquerels/liter. Becquerels are a measure of radioactivity.

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