September 26, 2023

Brighton Journal

Complete News World

Japan will start releasing sewage from Fukushima on Thursday

Japan will start releasing sewage from Fukushima on Thursday


Japan will begin releasing treated radioactive water from Fukushima into the ocean early Thursday, officials announced Tuesday, after months of growing public concern and shocks from many neighboring countries.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the authorities would go ahead with the release on August 24 “if they encounter no obstacles”. The decision came after the government held a cabinet meeting to discuss the issue.

The devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in 2011 contaminated the water inside the Fukushima nuclear plant with highly radioactive substances. Since then, new water has been pumped in to cool the fuel debris in the reactors, while groundwater and rainwater have seeped in, creating more radioactive wastewater.

All this wastewater has been treated and stored in huge tanks until now. But we’re running out of space, and authorities say they need to get rid of water to safely decommission the station — hence the ocean launch plan, which has been controversial from the start.

In July, the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency concluded that Japan’s plan was in line with international safety standards and would have “negligible radioactive impact on people and the environment” — something it reiterated on Tuesday after the government’s announcement, saying the plan had undergone two years of ” Detailed review.

But this did not reassure many of Japan’s neighbors, with officials from China and the Pacific Islands expressing concern and opposition to the plan.

People in South Korea have also staged several street protests against the release, even though the country’s leaders have expressed support for Japan.

See also  Conservatives demand landslide victory - DW - 06/26/2023

Meanwhile, fishing communities in Japan and South Korea worry that wastewater spills could spell the end of their livelihoods—consumers across the region are already splitting seafood from Japan and its nearby waters, and some governments are even banning imports of food in parts. from Japan, including Fukushima.

On Monday, Kishida met with the head of a national body representing fishermen, who told the prime minister that the group has a greater understanding of sewage disposal – but “still opposes” the plan going ahead.

Although radioactive wastewater contains some hazardous elements, most of them can be removed through various treatment processes, according to state-owned electric utility Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).

The real problem is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen called tritium, which cannot be removed. There is currently no technology that can do this.

Authorities say Fukushima’s sewage will be significantly diluted and released slowly over decades – meaning the concentration of tritium released will be very low, meeting international regulations.

Many other countries, including the United States, regularly release treated wastewater containing small amounts of tritium from their nuclear plants.

TEPCO, the Japanese government, and the IAEA also argue that tritium occurs naturally in the environment, including in rainwater and tap water, so the wastewater release should be safe.

But experts are divided on the danger this poses. Most national agencies agree that small amounts of tritium are not very harmful, but they can be dangerous if consumed in large amounts.

Some scientists worry that wastewater dilution could harm marine life, with pollutants that could build up in an already vulnerable ecosystem. One expert, who helped Pacific Island nations review and evaluate the sewage release plan, told CNN it was “unwise” and premature.

See also  Türkiye is voting in a pivotal election that could end Erdogan's 20-year rule

Others argue that we don’t have enough studies or data yet on the long-term biological effects of tritium exposure.

The softened water will be released through an undersea tunnel off the coast, into the Pacific Ocean. Third parties, including the IAEA, will monitor the discharge during and after its release.