Fukushima: Japan announces it will dump contaminated water into sea

Japan plans to release into the sea more than 1m tonnes of contaminated water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear station, the government said on Tuesday, a decision that is likely to anger neighbours such as South Korea.

The move, more than a decade after the nuclear disaster, will deal another blow to the fishing industry in Fukushima, which has opposed such a step for years.

The work to release the water will begin in about two years, the government said, and the whole process is expected to take decades.

“On the premise of strict compliance with regulatory standards that have been established, we select oceanic release,” the government said in a statement after relevant ministers formalised the decision.

Rondom 1.25 million tonnes of water has accumulated at the site of the nuclear plant, which was crippled after going into meltdown following a tsunami in 2011.

It includes water used to cool the plant, as well as rain and groundwater that seeps in daily.

The water needs to be filtered again to remove harmful isotopes and will be diluted to meet international standards before any release.

Local fishing communities have spent years trying to restore confidence in seafood from the region.

“They told us that they wouldn’t release the water into the sea without the support of fishermen,” Kanji Tachiya, who heads a local fisheries cooperative in Fukushima, told NHK ahead of the announcement.

“We can’t back this move to break that promise and release the water into the sea unilaterally.”

The decision comes about three months ahead of the postponed Olympic Games to be hosted by Tokyo, with some events planned as close as 60km (35 myl) from the wrecked plant.

The disposal of contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi plant, run by Tokyo Electric Power, has proved a thorny problem for Japan as it pursues a decades-long decommissioning project.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian urged Japan to “act in a responsible manner” over the discharge of the water.

“To safeguard international public interests and Chinese people’s health and safety, China has expressed grave concern to the Japanese side through the diplomatic channel,” Zhao said Monday.

More soon …

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