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  1. #1
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    Fukushima: Japan announces it will dump contaminated water into sea

    Environmental groups and neighbours condemn plan to release more than 1m tonnes of contaminated water in two years’ time

    Japan has announced it will release more than 1m tonnes of contaminated water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea, a decision that has angered neighbouring countries, including China, and local fishers.

    Official confirmation of the move, which came more than a decade after the nuclear disaster, will deal a further blow to the fishing industry in Fukushima, which has opposed the measure for years.

    The prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, told a meeting of ministers on Tuesday that the government had decided that releasing the water into the Pacific Ocean was the “most realistic” option, and “unavoidable in order to achieve Fukushima’s recovery”.

    The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power [Tepco], and government officials say tritium, a radioactive material that is not harmful in small amounts, cannot be removed from the water, but other radionuclides can be reduced to levels allowed for release.

    “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 told reporters.

    Work to release the diluted water will begin in about two years, the government said, with the entire process expected to take decades.
    “On the premise of strict compliance with regulatory standards that have been established, we select oceanic release,” it said in a statement.

    China denounced the plan as “extremely irresponsible”, and accused Japan of reaching the decision “without regard for domestic and foreign doubts and opposition”.

    “This approach is extremely irresponsible and will seriously damage international public health and safety and the vital interests of the people of neighbouring countries,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement on its website.

    South Korea summoned Japan’s ambassador, Koichi Aiboshi, the broadcaster YTN reported, while a high-level government official said Seoul “firmly opposes” the move, a view also expressed by Taiwan’s Atomic Energy Council.

    The US was supportive, describing Japan’s decision-making process as “transparent”.
    “We thank Japan for its transparent efforts in its decision to dispose of the treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi site,” the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, tweeted.

    The announcement drew swift condemnation from environmental groups.

    Greenpeace Japan said it “strongly condemned” the water’s release, which “completely disregards the human rights and interests of the people in Fukushima, wider Japan and the Asia-Pacific region”.

    “The Japanese government has once again failed the people of Fukushima,” said Kazue Suzuki, the group’s climate and energy campaigner.

    “The government has taken the wholly unjustified decision to deliberately contaminate the Pacific Ocean with radioactive waste. It has discounted the radiation risks and turned its back on the clear evidence that sufficient storage capacity is available on the nuclear site as well as in surrounding districts.

    “The cabinet’s decision failed to protect the environment and neglected the large-scale opposition and concerns of the local Fukushima residents, as well as the neighbouring citizens around Japan.”

    About 1.25m 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, the government said.

    The radioactive water, which increases in quantity by about 140 tonnes a day, is now being stored in more than 1,000 tanks, and space at the site is expected to run out around next autumn. Tepco has argued that it will struggle to make progress on decommissioning the plant if it has to keep building more storage tanks at the site.

    The International Atomic Energy Agency supports the decision, since radioactive elements, except tritium, will be removed from the water or reduced to safe levels before it is discharged. The IAEA has also pointed out that nuclear plants around the world use a similar process to dispose of wastewater.

    Experts say tritium is only harmful to humans in large doses and with dilution the treated water poses no scientifically detectable risk.
    “There is consensus among scientists that the impact on health is minuscule,” Michiaki Kai, an expert on radiation risk assessment at Japan’s Oita University of Nursing and Health Sciences, told Agence France-Presse before the decision was announced.

    But local fishing communities say the water’s release will undo years of hard work to rebuild consumer confidence in their seafood.
    “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 public broadcaster 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 in Tokyo, with some events planned as close as 60km (35 miles) from the plant.

    Japanese officials have objected to media descriptions of the water as “contaminated” or “radioactive”, insisting that it be described as “treated”.

    Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace East Asia, said that claim was “clearly false”.
    “If it was not contaminated or radioactive they would not need approval (to release the water) from Japan’s nuclear regulator,” he said. “The water in the tanks is indeed treated, but it is also contaminated with radioactivity. The Japanese government has been deliberately seeking to deceive over this issue, at home and abroad.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/apr/13/fukushima-japan-to-start-dumping-contaminated-water-pacific-ocean

  2. #2
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    Experts say tritium is only harmful to humans in large doses and with dilution the treated water poses no scientifically detectable risk.
    I think they said that about DDT (c.f. Silent Spring, Rachel Carson).

    while the government takes measures to prevent reputational damage
    Yeah good luck with that.

  3. #3
    Thailand Expat
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    ^ to be fair, Tritium is not hugely risky unless you come into contact with it directly.

  4. #4
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by strigils View Post
    ^ to be fair, Tritium is not hugely risky unless you come into contact with it directly.
    Like eating fish that's riddled with it?

  5. #5
    Custom user Neverna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by strigils View Post
    ^ to be fair, Tritium is not hugely risky unless you come into contact with it directly.
    It's a beta-emitting radioactive isotope so is only really dangerous if ingested, but it does't last long inside the body.

    It's a shame they could not extract it from the water. It's a useful chemical (for nuclear bomb detonators).

  6. #6
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    Its OK, sushi dolphin is off the menu for a couple of decades, win win.

  7. #7
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    But the chinkies being scared off eating fish doesn't bode well for the bats and pangolins though.

  8. #8
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    The guy on the podium with the microphone didn't say "Trust me, I've got this covered" so there is nothing to worry about.

  9. #9
    Thailand Expat misskit's Avatar
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    S.Korea aims to fight Japan's Fukushima decision at world tribunal


    SEOUL (Reuters) -South Korea’s president ordered officials on Wednesday to explore petitioning an international court over Japan’s decision to release contaminated water from its wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea, amid protests by fisheries and environmental groups.

    According to plans unveiled by Japan on Tuesday, the release of more than 1 million tonnes of contaminated water into the sea from the plant crippled by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011 will start in about two years after filtering it to remove harmful isotopes.


    The plan drew immediate opposition from its neighbours South Korea, China and Taiwan.


    South Korea strongly protested against the decision, summoning Koichi Aiboshi, Tokyo’s ambassador in Seoul, and convening an intra-agency emergency meeting to craft its response.


    President Moon Jae-in said officials should look into ways to refer Japan’s move to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, including filing for an injunction, his spokesman Kang Min-seok told a briefing.


    Moon also expressed concerns about Japan’s plans as Aiboshi presented his credentials. Japan’s ambassador arrived in South Korea in February to take up his post.


    “I cannot but say that there are many concerns here about the decision as a country that is geologically closest and shares the sea with Japan,” Moon said, asking Aiboshi to convey such worries to Tokyo, according to Kang.


    South Korea’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying it had raised similar concerns with Washington, after the State Department said Japan’s decision was “transparent” and in line with global safety standards. [L4N2M61SG]


    The ministry also said it shared “strong regret and serious concerns” about the water’s planned release at a video conference on Wednesday with Chinese officials on maritime issues.


    A series of protests against the move by politicians, local officials, fishermen and environmental activists took place in South Korea on Wednesday, including in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul and consulates in the port city of Busan and on Jeju island.


    A coalition of 25 fisheries organisations staged a rally and delivered a written protest to the embassy, urging Tokyo to revoke the decision and Seoul to ban imports of Japanese seafood.


    “Our industry is on course to suffer annihilating damage, just with people’s concerns about a possible radioactive contamination of marine products,” it said in a statement.


    The progressive minor opposition Justice Party and some 30 anti-nuclear and environmental groups called Japan’s move “nuclear terrorism,” and said they sent the Japanese embassy a list of signatures of more than 64,000 people opposed to the move collected from 86 countries since February.


    The Chinese foreign ministry warned on Wednesday that Japan’s decision will set a precedent for disposal of waste water.


    “The ocean is not Japan’s rubbish bin, the Pacific Ocean is not Japan’s sewers,” said Zhao Lijian, a spokesman at the Chinese foreign ministry, at a regular media briefing in Beijing.


    “Japan should not let the whole world pay for how it manages its nuclear waste water.”



    S.Korea aims to fight Japan'''s Fukushima decision at world tribunal | Reuters

  10. #10
    Thailand Expat misskit's Avatar
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    S.Korean Fishermen Sue Japanese Govt Over Fukushima Water -Yonhap

    SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean fisheries associations filed a lawsuit against the Japanese government at a local court on Thursday, seeking compensation for the planned release of contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, the Yonhap news agency reported.


    The National Federation of Fisheries Cooperatives of Jeju Island and a shipowners' association told a news conference outside the Jeju District Court they were demanding about 10 million won ($8,800) per day from the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Yonhap said.

    Japan's government said in April it would release more than 1 million tonnes of treated water from the Fukushima site in stages starting in about two years.


    S.Korean Fishermen Sue Japanese Govt Over Fukushima Water -Yonhap | World News | US News

  11. #11
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    If you can't make the japanese politicians drink the stuff, pouring it into the Pacific sounds like the second option

    The Pacific not being the Atlantic

    Don't red me,Woolly

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neverna View Post

    It's a shame they could not extract it from the water. It's a useful chemical (for nuclear bomb detonators).
    Not quite, it allows for a reduction in the amount of fissile material required in the first stage of a nuclear bomb.

    It has a 1/2 life of 12.3 years, and hence the Tritium gas bottle in a warhead package has to be replaced every 6 years (or thereabouts).

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