Japan releases Fukushima wastewater into the Pacific; China bans Japanese seafood

More than a million metric tons of treated water are to be released from the destroyed plant.

Reuters reports that, “The first discharge of wastewater from the nuclear plant destroyed in 2011 was  7,800 cubic metres – the equivalent of about three Olympic swimming pools of water – will take place over about 17 days. 

According to DW, “Japan has said that it will discharge at most 500,000 liters per day, with the release of the water planned to take some 30 years to complete.  Thursday’s discharge, which authorities say is on a small scale, is scheduled to be followed by three more between now and March 31.

The Fukushima Daiichi plant was destroyed in March 2011 after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake generated a powerful tsunami which caused meltdowns in three reactors.

According to Tepco’s (Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power) test results released on Thursday, that water contained about up to 63 becquerels of tritium per liter, below the World Health Organization drinking water limit of 10,000 becquerels per liter. A becquerel is a unit of radioactivity.

The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) has also concluded that the impact it would have on people and the environment was “negligible. The IAEA also released a statement saying its independent on-site analysis had confirmed the tritium concentration was far below the limit.”

Japan has said almost all radioactive elements will have been filtered out of the stored water before its release. The only exception is tritium, which is difficult to filter. But many nuclear experts say tritium poses little risk to human health, as it does not accumulate in the body.

However, China reiterated its firm opposition to the plan and said the Japanese government had not proved that the water discharged would be safe. Japan has asked that the ban be lifted and has said China’s decision is not based on science.

“Japan exported about $600 million worth of aquatic products to China in 2022, making it the biggest market for Japanese exports, with Hong Kong second. Sales to China and Hong Kong accounted for 42% of all Japanese aquatic exports in 2022, according to government data.” (Reuters)

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