Home » Japan’s nuclear waste water is about to be discharged into the sea, and the IAEA will go to Fukushima for inspection again

Japan’s nuclear waste water is about to be discharged into the sea, and the IAEA will go to Fukushima for inspection again

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Japan’s nuclear waste water is about to be discharged into the sea, and the IAEA will go to Fukushima for inspection again


29.05.2023

The Japanese government this summer launched a plan to dump sewage from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean, but local fishermen and neighboring countries have so far strongly opposed it. Japan hopes that the International Atomic Energy Agency can provide assistance to ensure that the discharge process meets safety standards.

(Deutsche Welle Chinese website) A working team dispatched by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) under the United Nations arrived in Tokyo on Monday (May 29). It is expected that Japan will conduct a final review before starting to discharge diluted nuclear sewage. According to a statement issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency on May 26, experts from the working group will review the waste water treatment plan of the Fukushima nuclear power plant in accordance with international safety standards to avoid the threat of harmful nuclear radiation to humans and the environment.

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said the team included experts from 11 countries. During the five-day visit, meet with top officials from the government and nuclear power plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company, and visit the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to observe preparations for the Multi-Nuclide Removal Plant (ALPS).

will take decades to complete

Japan announced the wastewater discharge plan in April 2021, stating that after further treating and diluting the nuclear-contaminated wastewater to a “safe level”, it will gradually release the wastewater into the ocean. The plan will be approved by the Japan Atomic Energy Regulatory Commission in July 2022.

Japanese officials say the water will be treated to a level where it can be legally released and further diluted with large volumes of seawater. They added that the water would be gradually released through a subsea pipeline over decades, making it harmless to humans and marine life.

The IAEA team also visited Japan last February to discuss wastewater issues with Japanese officials (file photo)

In 2022, the International Atomic Energy Agency has sent personnel to Japan several times to investigate. According to the statement of the agency, five reports related to the waste water discharge plan have been released so far, including two “technical” and “regulatory” reports. aspects of security review work.

Next, Japan is expected to begin discharging treated nuclear wastewater into the sea within months after Japan’s nuclear regulator conducts safety inspections of newly built drainage facilities and the International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to issue a final report by the end of June this year.

Opposition

However, the plan has been strongly opposed by Fukushima fishermen, who fear potential health hazards and loss of livelihoods. Nearby countries such as South Korea, China, and Pacific island countries have all raised doubts about the possible health effects of nuclear wastewater.

As a result, Japanese authorities sought the help of the IAEA to ensure that its discharge process complied with international safety standards, hoping to gain understanding from other countries. The Japanese government has stepped up campaigns in Japanese media and at food shows to promote the safety of seafood from Fukushima, while providing regular briefings to foreign governments, including South Korea and members of the Pacific Islands Forum.

An inspector is testing the tritium content of Fukushima wastewater samples

At the same time, the Chinese representative stated at the World Health Assembly (WHA) on May 27 that he firmly opposed Japan’s unilateral decision to discharge Fukushima nuclear contaminated water into the ocean. The Chinese representative said that the coast of Fukushima has the strongest ocean currents in the world, and 10 years after the nuclear contaminated water is discharged into the sea, the relevant radionuclides will spread to the seas of the world. This move will transfer the risk to all mankind. The Chinese representative also emphasized that before reaching an agreement with all parties, the Japanese side shall not initiate the discharge of nuclear contaminated water without authorization.

Wastewater from 500 Olympic swimming pools

Fukushima Daiichi’s tanks currently store nearly 1.3 million tons of contaminated water that was used to cool the reactor core after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. The total amount is enough to fill about 500 Olympic-standard swimming pools, and the annual maintenance cost is about 100 billion yen. Moreover, the current storage space is running out. Japanese officials say it is necessary to remove the water currently stored in the tanks to prevent possible accidental leaks in the event of another disaster in the future, while also making room for the plant’s decommissioning.

Fishermen of Fukushima

the old man and the sea

It was daylight when 71-year-old fisherman Haruo Ono unloaded his catch in the small port of Shinmachi. Ono is a third-generation fisherman who has been sailing in Shinmachi for half a century. It is just 55 kilometers north of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where one of the world‘s worst nuclear accidents occurred in 2011.

Fishermen of Fukushima

fishing and survival

While cleaning the whitebait, Ono remembered the day that changed the world: On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9 earthquake triggered a huge tsunami off the east coast of Japan. Ono survived on his boat, but his home on land was destroyed. He lost a brother. The tsunami also hit the Fukushima nuclear power plant, triggering an explosion and meltdown.

Fishermen of Fukushima

stranded fishery

The radiation released during the reactor disaster brought the fishery in the region to a complete standstill, and it took 12 years for the fishery to recover, with fish prices slowly recovering. Ono called TEPCO’s plan to re-discharge the polluted water into the sea “intolerable”. “We’re afraid we’re going back to square one again,” he worries.

Fishermen of Fukushima

where cooling water goes

The numerous water storage tanks at the site of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are a bone of contention. According to the authorities, the water storage tanks had to be removed before rebuilding. The water was mainly used to cool the reactor after the disaster.

Fishermen of Fukushima

Is cooling water safe?

A Tepco employee holds a treated water sample to the camera. This water is treated, filtered and diluted. Tepco and the government claim it is now safe. However, it contains trace amounts of tritium. Although the radioactive isotope is considered relatively harmless, fishermen fear that dumping the water into the ocean will again disrupt their business.

Fishermen of Fukushima

Under control?

The radiation testing standards cited by TEPCO and the Tokyo government are stricter than those of other countries that also discharge treated water. The release was also approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). “We have equipment to make the water safe,” TEPCO spokesman Tomohiko Mayuzum told Reuters.

Fishermen of Fukushima

fish farming in waste water tanks

To prove that the treated water is clean and harmless, Tepco is breeding flounder in tanks at the defunct Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Toshihiro Wada of Fukushima University says he can understand fishermen’s concerns. He said TEPCO’s announcement to discharge the polluted water was “unfortunate” for the region’s fledgling fishing industry.

Fishermen of Fukushima

Sprinkle salt in the wound?

Fisherman Haruo Ono pours his catch into a tank. He was angry at TEPCO: “The ocean is not a trash can,” he said in an interview with Reuters, asking: “Why put water in the waters of Fukushima, why not put water in Tokyo or Osaka?” He said, The people of the region have suffered enough, and now let them suffer even more.

Fishermen of Fukushima

fisherman’s future

Haruo Ono stood where the house once stood. After the tsunami, the area was turned into a park. Despite his new home being inland, the 71-year-old had to “work at sea” to the end of his life. He is bleak about the future of the fishing industry. “What about the kids who are in elementary and junior high school?” he asked, for whom this livelihood is too precarious.

(comprehensive report)

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