Plan To Pour Radioactive Waste From Fukushima Nuclear Plant Into Pacific Ocean Is Safe: IAEA

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Jul 05, 2023 - 02:45 AM

Authored by Katabella Roberts via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has concluded that Japan’s plans to release radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean are consistent with international safety standards.

An aerial view shows the storage tanks for treated water at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, on Feb. 13, 2021. (Kyodo/Reuters)

In a report published on July 4 (pdf), the IAEA, a United Nations body, said that the findings followed a comprehensive assessment and safety review of the treated water stored at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station (FDNPS).

Additionally, the IAEA said that “controlled, gradual discharges of the treated water to the sea” as currently planned by Japan’s government and the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO), would have a “negligible radiological impact on people and the environment.”

The report is the result of a nearly two-year assessment conducted by an IAEA task force made up of top specialists from within the agency advised by “internationally recognized nuclear safety experts from eleven countries,” according to a press release.

Around 1.2 million cubic meters in volume of water used to cool the fuel rods of the Fukushima plant will be released under the plan over the next three to four decades in order to prevent accidental leaks and to allow for the plant’s decommissioning.

As part of the plan, the IAEA said it will conduct an independent and objective safety review during the discharge phase, with a continued on-site presence and live online monitoring throughout.

Japan has not specified a date for the water release.

The 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster was triggered by a deadly 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami in the northern region of Japan which knocked out the plant’s cooling systems, triggering the meltdown of three reactors.

While the water stored at the FDNPS has been treated through an “Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS)” to remove “almost all” radioactivity, it still remains tainted by tritium, a rare and radioactive isotope of hydrogen which can bond with oxygen to make water, making it difficult to fully remove.

The Pacific Ocean looks over nuclear reactor units of No. 3 (L) and 4 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, on Feb. 27, 2021. (Hiro Komae/AP Photo)

Backlash Over Plans

Tritium can increase the risk of cancer if consumed in extremely large quantities. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets a maximum contaminant level for tritium at 20,000 picoCuries per liter.

The World Health Organization sets its maximum concentration level much higher, at around 13 times the amount of the EPA’s recommendation.

Before the water is discharged into the Pacific Ocean, it will be diluted by Japanese authorities to bring the tritium to below regulatory standards, IAEA said. Multiple nuclear power plants throughout the world regularly release wastewater containing tritium above the concentration of TEPCO’s treated water, according to reports.

However, a string of nations including China and South Korea have opposed the release of the radioactive water, citing health and safety concerns. Local fishing groups have also raised concerns over the possibility that the move could severely impact business even if they catch uncontaminated fish, as have tourism companies, beach businesses, and tourism bodies.

In June Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin called the plan “extremely selfish and irresponsible,” adding that the ocean is “humanity’s common good, not Japan’s private sewer.”

Wang cited reports stating that the radioactive element Caesium-137, or Cs-137, in black rockfish that were caught in the harbor surrounding the power plant in May far exceeded safety levels, reaching 18,000 Bq/kg, 180 times above the standard laid out in Japan’s food safety law.

The Japanese government has repeatedly sought to whitewash its discharge of nuclear-contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, claiming the water to be harmless and the discharge to be justified and calling it the only option. Yet facts prove otherwise,” Wang said at the time.

A general view of damage to No. 3 reactor building at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Health, Environmental Implications

The Pacific Islands Forum, an intergovernmental organization consisting of 18 nations including Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Australia, has also criticized the proposed move, urging Japan to hold off on the release until definitive environmental and human health implications have been established.

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