Government’s decision to release Fukushima water into the sea sparks dissent among stakeholders: Japan

Tokyo, April 13 2021: The Japanese cabinet has decided on a course of action for dealing with the nearly 1.25million tonnes of water accumulating in the Fukushima nuclear power since it shut down following a Tsunami in 2011.

The government says it will release the treated water into the ocean. This decision has attracted concern both domestically and abroad, with local fishing communities saying they felt let down by the decision since they had only just now managed to convince people about the safety of the sea food in the region and this move would likely damage the trust. South Korea’s foreign ministry expressed “serious regret” and China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian urging Japan to “act in a responsible manner”. Greenpeace slammed Japan’s government for having “once again failed the people of Fukushima”, since according to them the filtration process removes some nuclear elements but not all, such as Tritium.

The US however, is of the view that the government has been transparent about its decision and the approach is compliant with globally accepted safety standards, as evidenced by the stance of the IAEA which has endorsed the release.

An extensive pumping and filtration system known as “Advanced Liquid Processing System” extracts tonnes of newly contaminated water each day and filters out most radioactive elements. Allaying the concerns of the local communities and activists, government spokesman, Katsonobu Kato said that the water would be diluted to contain tritium at levels far below either domestic or WHO standards, with the IAEA monitoring the process. Experts say the element is only harmful to humans in large doses and with dilution the treated water poses no scientifically detectable risk.

The Prime Minister of Japan, Yoshihide Suga told a ministerial meeting that disposing of the water was an “inevitable task” in the decades-long process of decommissioning the plant and the measures will take into account any reputational damage.

According to IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi, “Releasing into the ocean is done elsewhere. It’s not something new. There is no scandal here. Either method would be “in line with well-established practices.” Experts say the impact of diluted elements on health is minimal, but lawyers and local plaintiffs who have filed class action lawsuits for damages against the government demanded the “immediate withdrawal” of the decision in an angry statement.

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