The Japanese government has announced on April 13 that it plans to release over one million tons of contaminated water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea.
“On the premise of strict compliance with regulatory standards that have been established, we select oceanic release,” the government said in a statement.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told ministers during a meeting that the decision to discharge the radioactive wastewater into the Pacific Ocean was the “most realistic” option and that it was “unavoidable in order to achieve Fukushima’s recovery,” a decade after the nuclear disaster.
“The Japanese government has compiled basic policies to release the processed water into the ocean, after ensuring the safety levels of the water… and while the government takes measures to prevent reputational damage,” Suga also told reporters.
Government officials and operator Tokyo Electric Power said that a radioactive material called tritium, which is not harmful in small amounts, cannot be removed from the water, but other materials can be decreased to levels allowed for release.
The government said work to release the water will take around two years to begin, with the whole process expected to take decades.
Local fishing communities and environmental groups opposed the decision.
“They told us that they wouldn’t release the water into the sea without the support of fishermen,” Kanji Tachiya, head of a local fisheries cooperative in Fukushima told broadcaster NHK ahead of the announcement.
“We can’t back this move to break that promise and release the water into the sea unilaterally,” Tachiya also said.
“The Japanese government has once again failed the people of Fukushima,” Greenpeace Japan Campaigner Kazue Suzuki said, adding that it “neglected the large-scale opposition and concerns of the local Fukushima residents, as well as the neighboring citizens around Japan.”
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