Xinhua News Agency, Tokyo, April 13.(International Observation) The Japanese government is obsessed with insisting on the discharge of nuclear-polluted water into the sea
Xinhua News Agency reporter Hua Yi
On April 13 last year, the Japanese government formally decided to discharge the nuclear-contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean, despite strong domestic and foreign opposition. Over the past year, despite constant domestic and international opposition, the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company continued to pursue the plan to discharge nuclear-contaminated water into the sea.
Analysts pointed out that the Japanese government and TEPCO released nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean out of their own self-interest without domestic understanding and without sufficient consultation with relevant countries. Great harm to the global marine environment and extremely irresponsible.
to save cost
After the Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011, a large amount of contaminated cooling water was generated to continuously cool the nuclear reactors whose cores melted down. To store the increasing amount of nuclear-contaminated water, TEPCO has prepared about 1,000 water storage tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. With the available capacity of water storage tanks becoming less and less, the Japanese government held a cabinet meeting on April 13 last year to formally decide to filter and dilute the nuclear-contaminated water and discharge it into the sea, and plans to implement it in the spring of 2023.
Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is photographed on January 8, 2021. (Xinhua News Agency/Kyodo News)
Before making this decision, the Japanese government had proposed five treatment options, but finally chose to discharge it into the sea. According to the Japanese side, the two options of discharging into the sea and evaporating into the atmosphere are the “most practical solutions”, and the discharge into the sea “requires the shortest time and costs the least.”
Environmentalists pointed out that the Japanese government did not fully consider all means, and chose to discharge into the sea to save costs.
An article recently published by the environmental group Friends of the Earth Japan pointed out that the construction of large-scale water storage tanks similar to oil storage tanks and the solidification of nuclear-contaminated water with cement and sand before storage are very feasible and have practical applications. approach, but none of them have been fully discussed by the Japanese government. The article also pointed out that in response to Tepco’s claim that there is no land to build a new water storage tank in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a member of the special committee of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry proposed a solution during the discussion, but it has not been fully discussed.
Kazue Suzuki, a member of Greenpeace Japan, commented that, after reading the discussions of the special committee of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, he can only feel that the Japanese government is trying to lead the conclusion to discharge into the sea.
Protesters rally outside the prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo, Japan, on April 13, 2021, against the discharge of Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water into the sea. (Photo by Xinhua News Agency reporter Du Xiaoyi)
go one’s own way
There has been strong opposition both inside and outside Japan to the discharge of Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water into the sea.
In Japan, the fishing industry is most affected by the discharge of nuclear-contaminated water into the sea, and its practitioners are most strongly opposed. Hiroshi Kishi, president of the National Federation of Fisheries Associations of Japan, expressed his firm opposition to the discharge of nuclear-polluted water into the sea when he met with the Prime Minister of Japan and the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry respectively last year and this year.
There are also strong voices in the northeastern region of Japan against the discharge of nuclear-contaminated water into the sea. On March 30 this year, four civil organizations in Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures submitted a letter of 180,000 people to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and Tepco, requesting that they abandon the plan to expel the sea.
Some Japanese civil organizations, including the “Atomic Force Citizens Committee” composed of citizens and scholars, and the Japan Bar Association, have publicly opposed the discharge of nuclear-contaminated water into the sea. Japan’s Cadets and other opposition parties also demanded that the government withdraw its decision to discharge nuclear-contaminated water into the sea.
Internationally, China, South Korea, the Philippines, the Pacific Islands Forum and many other countries and international organizations have questioned and opposed Japan’s decision to discharge its nuclear-polluted water into the sea. China requires Japan to listen carefully to and respond to the concerns of the international community, including its neighboring countries, and revoke the wrong decision to discharge nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean. The South Korean side also called on the Japanese side to immediately stop the plan and fully communicate and negotiate with its neighbors.
In the face of opposition from many parties, the Japanese government and TEPCO insisted on their own efforts and continued to promote the plan to discharge nuclear-contaminated water into the sea. In August last year, the management of TEPCO announced plans to the media to build an undersea tunnel to discharge nuclear-contaminated water to the offshore area about 1 km away from the nuclear power plant. Japan’s “Sankei Shimbun” reported at the end of March this year that TEPCO is carrying out the above-ground construction at the starting point of the tunnel, and will start the subsea construction at the tunnel exit in mid-April.
According to a national poll published in early March by the Fukushima local media “Fukushima People’s Daily”, more than half of Japanese people believe that the plan to discharge water contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear pollution has not been widely understood at home and abroad.
On April 14, 2021, South Koreans rallied outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul to protest the Japanese government’s decision to discharge the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water into the sea. (Published by Xinhua News Agency, photo by Xu Ruxi)
downplay the hazard
According to the Japanese government and TEPCO, before the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water is discharged into the sea, it must be filtered by the “Multinuclide Removal Equipment” (ALPS) to remove 62 kinds of radioactive substances. Tritium, which is difficult to remove by the equipment, will be diluted to a concentration far below the Japanese national standard and discharged into the sea. The Japanese government and TEPCO say that waste water from nuclear power plants around the world contains tritium and that it is safe to dilute it into the sea.
However, the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water is not tritium-containing wastewater discharged during the normal operation of the nuclear power plant. The radioactive substances contained in it are extremely complex, and it is doubtful whether it can be effectively removed. At the same time, because the Japanese government and TEPCO have many dishonest records in handling the Fukushima nuclear accident, including concealing the core meltdown in the early stage of the nuclear accident, people are not afraid to believe his words. Sure enough, Japanese media found out that there were many radioactive substances in the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water other than tritium exceeding the standard. TEPCO later admitted that more than 70% of the nuclear-contaminated water treated by ALPS did not meet the discharge standards and needed to be filtered again.
In the face of widespread doubts at home and abroad, the Japanese government is not trying to solve the problem fundamentally, but to eliminate the “victimization of reputation”, that is, the impact on its reputation, and it does not hesitate to invest tens of billions of yen for this. The Japanese government has also tried to downplay the danger of tritium, portraying it as a harmless substance in publicity materials, and even packaging it in a cute cartoon shape, which has been widely criticized.
According to plans between TEPCO and the Japanese government, the decommissioning operation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is expected to last for 30 to 40 years, which means that during this period, a steady stream of radioactive material will be discharged into the sea. Ban Yingyuki, co-representative of the Japanese non-governmental organization “Atomic Force Data and Information Office”, said: “Radioactive pollution of the marine environment cannot be allowed, and the method of discharging into the sea (for the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water) should be adopted.” (Participating reporters: Du Baiyu, Sun Yiran )