Japanese officials announced that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was damaged by a tsunami, has initiated its third discharge of treated and diluted wastewater into the ocean on Thursday. This follows two previous successful releases.
The plant manager released 7,800 tons of treated water in the first two batches and intends to discharge the same quantity in the current batch until November 20th.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings announced that their employees initiated the first pump to mix treated water with a significant volume of seawater, slowly releasing the combination into the Pacific Ocean via an underwater tunnel.
The plant initiated its first release of wastewater in August and will continue to do so for many years. Around 1.33 million tons of wastewater containing radioactive materials is currently being stored in approximately 1,000 tanks at the plant. This amount has been building up since the plant was damaged by the powerful earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan in 2011.
Both TEPCO and the government claim that releasing the water into the ocean is necessary due to the tanks being almost at capacity and the need to decommission the plant.
Fishing organizations and neighboring nations, such as South Korea, have strongly objected to the release of wastewater. This led to hundreds of people in South Korea staging protests. In response, China quickly halted all imports of Japanese seafood, causing significant damage to the seafood industry and exporters in Japan.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida informed the media that Japan has consistently offered clear and evidence-based explanations regarding the discharge, and has received support from numerous members of the global community. However, certain countries are limiting Japanese seafood without any scientific justification.
Kishida stated that it is necessary to continue patiently discussing with other countries in order to request the removal of restrictions. It is also crucial to strongly assert Japan’s stance at international conferences and organizations like the World Trade Organization.
The Japanese government established a financial aid program to assist in discovering alternative markets and minimizing the consequences of China’s ban on seafood. Additionally, both national and regional authorities have spearheaded a movement to promote the consumption of fish and show support for Fukushima, which has gained significant support from consumers.
The water undergoes treatment to eliminate as many radioactive particles as possible, followed by a significant dilution with seawater prior to being released. While TEPCO and the government assure that the method is secure, certain experts claim that the ongoing release is unprecedented and warrants close monitoring.
Up until now, TEPCO and the government’s marine sampling efforts have identified tritium, which they claim cannot be separated using current technology, at levels significantly lower than the World Health Organization’s drinking water standard.
During a recent incident, two employees at the water treatment plant were doused with radioactive material while performing maintenance on the pipes. They were taken to the hospital for exposure but have since been discharged and are being monitored, according to TEPCO. The company stated that none of the workers consumed any of the waste.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has determined that the planned release will have minimal effects on the environment, marine life, and human health. Officials from the IAEA mission stated last month that they were satisfied with the successful execution thus far.
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