1692844824 Fukushima waters D Day for controversial sea dumping

Fukushima waters: D-Day for controversial sea dumping

Engineers and technicians at the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant on Thursday prepare to discharge wastewater from the site into the sea, a process Tokyo and international experts say is safe but has been criticized in particular by China.

The oil spill will begin at 1:00 p.m. Japan time (4:00 a.m. GMT), Tepco, the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, said in a statement.

That initial discharge is expected to last about 17 days and relate to about 7,800 m3 of tritiated water from the facility, Tepco said in an online presentation on Wednesday.

The group plans three more leaks of the same magnitude as the first by the end of March.

Fukushima waters: D-Day for controversial sea dumping


In all, Japan plans to discharge more than 1.3 million cubic meters of sewage previously stored at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant site into the Pacific Ocean. This is rainwater, underground groundwater and injections needed to cool the cores of reactors that melted after the March 2011 tsunami that devastated the country’s northeast coast.

This process will be very gradual – it should continue into the 2050s – and the tritium water content in daily discharges into the sea will not exceed 500 m3.

The water was previously filtered to remove most of its radioactive materials, with the exception of tritium, which at very low levels poses no threat to the environment or human health.

Japan plans to discharge this water with significant dilution so that its radioactivity does not exceed 1,500 becquerels (Bq) per liter.

This value is 40 times lower than the Japanese national standard for tritiated water adjusted to the international standard (60,000 Bq/liter), and it is also about 7 times lower than the limit set by the World Health Organization ( WHO) for drinking water ( 10,000 Bq/litre).

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which oversees the disposal operation, gave the green light in July, concluding that the project met “international safety standards” and that it would have “negligible” radiological impacts on the population and the environment”.

But many see it differently. First, Japanese fishermen fear the image of their products will be tarnished.

This impact is already being felt at the level of their exports, since in July China banned food imports from ten Japanese departments, including that of Fukushima. Hong Kong and Macau took similar measures this week.

“The ocean is the property of all mankind, it is not a place for Japan to arbitrarily dump polluted water,” Chinese diplomatic spokesman Wang Wenbin said Tuesday.

However, dumping tritiated water into the sea is a common practice in the nuclear industry worldwide, and the annual amount of radioactivity from such discharges from Chinese nuclear power plants is much higher than expected at Fukushima Daiichi, Tokyo.

“This is a classic case where the perception of the risk associated with tritium is significantly higher than the actual risk it poses,” commented Tom Scott, an expert from the University of Bristol (England), this week and recalled elsewhere Because tritium occurs naturally in the earth’s upper atmosphere and in the oceans.

Analysts say Beijing’s tough stance on Fukushima water is also most likely related to already strained Sino-Japanese relations over many economic and geopolitical issues.

Other Asia-Pacific countries with better ties to Japan, such as South Korea, Taiwan, Australia and even Fiji and the Cook Islands, have expressed confidence in the security of the IAEA-controlled denial process.