Japan’s Fukushima Water Discharge Plan Sparks Global Controversy.

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Controversial Plan: Japan’s Proposal to Release Treated Fukushima Waste Water Raises Concerns

Japan’s plan to release treated waste water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean has ignited anxiety and anger both domestically and internationally. Following the 2011 tsunami that severely damaged the plant, over a million tonnes of treated waste water has accumulated, and now Japan intends to begin discharging it.

Endorsement by IAEA: UN Nuclear Watchdog Supports Japan’s Plan

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog, has published a report endorsing Japan’s plan. However, since the announcement two years ago, the proposal has been highly controversial within Japan, with local communities expressing concerns about contamination. Fishing and seafood industry groups in Japan and neighboring regions are also worried about the potential impact on their livelihoods as they fear consumers will avoid purchasing seafood.

International Criticism: Neighbors Condemn Japan’s Actions

Japan’s neighbors, particularly China, have strongly criticized the plan, accusing Japan of treating the ocean as its “private sewer.” China has criticized the IAEA report, claiming it to be biased. The tense relationship between China and Japan, along with Japan’s military build-up and China’s provocative moves around Taiwan, has further exacerbated tensions. South Korea, on the other hand, has taken a more diplomatic approach, expressing respect for the IAEA’s findings but causing dissatisfaction among the South Korean public.

Japan’s Proposal: Discharging Treated Water into the Pacific Ocean

Since the disaster, Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) has been pumping water into the Fukushima nuclear reactors to cool the fuel rods, resulting in the daily production of contaminated water stored in massive tanks. With over 1,000 tanks filled, Japan argues that this is not a sustainable long-term solution. The plan involves gradually releasing this water into the Pacific Ocean over the next 30 years, asserting its safety for discharge.

Treatment Process: Filtering and Dilution

Tepco treats the Fukushima water using the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS), which reduces most radioactive substances to acceptable safety standards, except for tritium and carbon-14. Tritium and carbon-14, radioactive forms of hydrogen and carbon, are challenging to separate from water and are naturally present in the environment. The filtered water undergoes further treatment and is diluted with seawater to reduce the concentration of remaining substances before being released into the ocean. Japan’s government claims that the final level of tritium, approximately 1,500 becquerels per liter, is well within the safety limits set by regulators for nuclear waste discharge and the World Health Organization’s standards for drinking water.

Criticisms and Concerns: Environmental Impact and Accidental Releases

Critics of the plan include UN-appointed human rights experts and environmental activists, who question Tepco’s treatment process and argue for keeping the treated water in tanks to allow for further processing and natural reduction of radioactivity. Some scientists express discomfort with the potential impact on the ocean bed and marine life. Concerns also remain about the possibility of accidental releases of contaminated water due to past failures by Tepco.

Japan’s government and Tepco have been engaged in dialogue with neighboring countries to address their concerns, but tensions and public apprehension persist. With the IAEA report supporting Japan’s plan, the stage is set for an intensified confrontation between Japan and its critics as the potential discharge of Fukushima water draws closer.

SOURCE: Ref image from south china post

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