Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Dumping diluted detritus is dangerous: radioactive contaminated water release plan by Japan provokes international outrage

The Japanese Cabinet has endorsed a draft bill permitting the release into the Pacific Ocean of 1.25m tonnes radioactively contaminated water stored in around 1,000 tanks at the Fukushima nuclear site in the ten years since the major accident at the nuclear facility in March 2011. Japan’s prime minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters it was the “most realistic” option, and “unavoidable in order to achieve Fukushima’s recovery”. The radioactive water will be discharged in about two years after being diluted. Environmental groups including Friends of the Earth Japan and the Citizens' Commission on Nuclear Energy said this week that they have collected more than 64,000 signatures from 88 countries and regions in a petition to the government against the decision to dump Fukushima wastewater into the sea. Prime minister Suga said: "We will aim to ensure safety that is higher than existing standards. The government will make all-out efforts to deal with unfounded rumors, "adding "This is a path that we cannot avoid in order to realize Fukushima's regional reconstruction and decommission the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. We will execute it only after ensuring the process is safe. Negative rumors must not stand in the way, or extinguish the hopes of people in Fukushima for recovery. The government will put out information based on science. We will do the best we can. It's all hands on deck." (NHK, 13 April 2021 https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20210413_24/ Almost uniquely, President Biden’s United States administration supported the move. “We thank Japan for its transparent efforts in its decision to dispose of the treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi site,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted. State Department spokesman Ned Price also emphasized in a press release that the United States was aware that the Japanese government examined several options related to the management of the processed water, and Japan has been “transparent about its decision” and “appears to have adopted an approach in accordance with globally accepted nuclear safety standards.” (https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/04/13/national/fukushima-water-reactions/) The UN nuclear watchdog, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also offered Japan support for the radioactive water release. (“IAEA Ready To Support Japan On Fukushima Water Disposal, Director General Grossi Says,” 13 April 2021, https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/pressreleases/iaea-ready-to-support-japan-on-fukushima-water-disposal-director-general-grossi-says) But from Governments in the region- especially China and South Korea- there have been howls of protest. KBS reported that senior official Choi Young-sam of the South Korean Foreign Ministry portrayed the decision as “sudden and unilateral.” The same official said South Korea’s Nuclear Safety and Security Commission had requested Tokyo to provide information regarding the release but has yet to receive essential information, including the initial date of the planned release, its duration and the quantity of water to be disposed. Seoul reportedly brought up the issue to Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Koichi Aiboshi after the ministry summoned him to lodge a complaint on the decision. (http://world.kbs.co.kr/service/news_view.htm?Seq_Code=160817&lang=e) Koo Yun Cheol,Seoul’s minister for government policy coordination, said "The decision...was a unilateral move made without enough discussion or understanding from us, South Korea, which is the closest country geographically..” He added that "The government will never tolerate any actions that could be harmful to our people's health," South Korea has banned imports of fisheries products from Fukushima and several other areas. Koo said Seoul will decide whether to expand the measure by taking into consideration the situation when Japan releases the water.(“Japan's neighbors react strongly to Fukushima water release decision,” Mainichi Japan, April 13, 2021; https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20210413/p2g/00m/0na/061000c) The plan has been facing strong opposition from the Japanese fish industry and the public, with fishery industry representatives saying it would undo years of work to restore their reputation. "We are dead against a release of contaminated water to the ocean as it could have a catastrophic impact on the future of Japan's fishing industry," Hiroshi Kishi, head of Japan’s national federation of fisheries cooperatives known as JF Zengyoren, told a meeting with government officials last October. (“Strong opposition, serious concerns raised as Japan decides to dump Fukushima contaminated water into sea,” Xinhua, April 13, 2021; http://en.people.cn/n3/2021/0413/c90000-9838634.html) Nor was this the first time Seoul had expressed concern over these plans. Last autumn Jung-han, director-general for Asia and Pacific affairs South Korean foreign ministry highlighted Seoul’s “grave awareness and serious concern about the issue of the Fukushima reactor contaminated water,” when senior officials from the close neighbours met for talks in Seoul for their first time since Japan’s new prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, took office in September 2020, the ministry revealed in a statement. (“South Korea expresses ‘serious concern’ over any Japanese radioactive water dump,” Asahi Shimbun, October 30, 2020; http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13885187) Several civic groups held a rally in Seoul protesting Japan's decision, calling on Tokyo to scrap the plan. "The sea is not a trash can. The Japanese government has no right at all to dirty the waters," said one member of a group at the rally. China’s Foreign Ministry in Beijing said : “The Fukushima nuclear accident is one of the most serious in world. The leak of large amounts of radioactive materials has had far-reaching implications on the marine environment, food safety and human health. “Despite doubts and opposition from home and abroad, Japan has unilaterally decided to release the Fukushima nuclear wastewater into the sea before exhausting all safe ways of disposal and without fully consulting with neighboring countries and the international community. This action is extremely irresponsible, and will seriously damage international public health and safety, and the vital interests of people in neighboring countries. “We strongly urge the Japanese side to face up to its responsibility, follow the science, fulfil its international obligations and duly respond to the serious concerns of the international community, neighboring countries and its own people. It should reevaluate the issue and refrain from wantonly discharging the wastewater before reaching consensus with all stakeholders and the IAEA through full consultations.” Meanwhile, Joanne Ou, a spokesperson for Taiwan’s foreign ministry said “The Foreign Ministry will continue to express our concerns to Japan in the future and closely monitor related developments in this matter. The Japanese government had informed us before it made an official decision, and it has promised to follow the guidelines given by ICRP (International Commission on Radiological Protection) to dilute, filter, purify before the discharge, and to continue to provide information to the international society.” (“Countries react to Japan’s plans to release Fukushima water into ocean Asahi Shimbun, April 13, 2021; http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14329966) Taiwan's Atomic Energy Council added that the decision was “regrettable.” A German oceanic research institute had earlier pointed out that contaminated waste water will pollute more than half of the Pacific Ocean in 57 days from the date of discharge, and will spread to the global waters 10 years later, as the Fukushima coast has one of the strongest ocean currents in the world. (“Japan's unilateral decision to discharge waste water from Fukushima nuclear complex into the ocean is extremely irresponsible: FM,” Global Times, April 13, 2021; https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202104/1220910.shtml) A study by the Kahoko Shinpo newspaper reported that levels of iodine-129 and ruthenium-106 exceeded acceptable levels in 45 out of 84 samples collected in 2017. Iodine-129 has a half-life of 15.7 million years and can cause cancer of the thyroid, while ruthenium-106 is produced by nuclear fission and high doses can be toxic or carcinogenic when ingested. Tepco subsequently confirmed that levels of strontium-90 were more than 100 times above legally permitted levels in nearly 65,000 tons of water that had already been treated and were 20,000 times above safety levels set by the government in several storage tanks at the site. Shaun Burnie of Greenpeace said the Japanese government had been “very effective” in focusing debate on the contaminated water on the presence of tritium, which is less harmful than the other nuclides, and made no mention of the other contaminants. That narrative had been assisted by the Japanese media, which had largely chosen to accept the government’s statements at face value, he said. “They have managed to put the focus on tritium, which is still an issue, but 72 per cent of the water that is presently stored in tanks at the site – that is around 800,000 cubic metres of water – still has to go through the ALPS [Advanced Liquid Processing System] procedure because they have not been able to meet the standards required for discharge,” he said. Data from Tepco on 2,000 cubic metres of water indicated lower levels of strontium, iodine-129 and other contaminants, but these were still well above the “non-detect” levels that were previously promised before the government would release the water. Burnie said there were still “huge uncertainties” surrounding the Fukushima site. He said his previous experience of discharges from other nuclear plants suggested there would be levels of carbon-14 and technetium, both of which can build up rapidly in life forms. However, he added, neither had been mentioned by Tepco or the Japanese government. BACKSTORY This is a selection of press coverage Strong opposition, serious concerns raised as Japan decides to dump Fukushima contaminated water into sea (Xinhua) 14:23, April 13, 2021 http://en.people.cn/n3/2021/0413/c90000-9838634.html Photo taken on Feb. 20, 2012 shows destroyed No.3 reactor building of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)'s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, Japan. (Xinhua/Pool) -- The Japanese government has decided to discharge contaminated radioactive wastewater in Fukushima Prefecture into the sea; -- The plan has been facing strong opposition from the Japanese fish industry and the public; -- The plan also raised concerns from neighboring countries about possible negative impact on people's health and fishery businesses. TOKYO, April 13 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Tuesday that his government has decided to discharge contaminated radioactive wastewater in Fukushima Prefecture into the sea amid domestic and international opposition. Suga made the announcement after convening a meeting of relevant ministers to formalize plans to release the radioactive water accumulated at the plant into the Pacific Ocean. Struck by a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that hit Japan's northeast on March 11, 2011, the No. 1-3 reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant suffered core meltdowns. The plant has been generating massive amount of radiation-tainted water since the accident happened as it needs water to cool the reactors. The plant's operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO) said it will take around two years for the release to start. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspection team members watch No.3 reactor of the crippled Tokyo Electric Power Co.(TEPCO)'s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, in this handout photo taken and released by TEPCO on May 27, 2011. (Xinhua) The water has been treated using an advanced liquid processing system, or ALPS, to remove most contaminants. However, things like tritium, a radioactive byproduct of nuclear reactors, are hard to filter out. According to some marine experts, traces of ruthenium, cobalt, strontium, and plutonium isotopes in the wastewater also raise concerns. The plant has been struggling to store the contaminated water in tanks at its facility where more than 1.25 million tons of contaminated water are currently stored in huge tanks, and the space is expected to reach capacity next year. TEPCO claimed that the whole decommissioning process will be hampered if it needs to keep building storage tanks within the plant's premises. Japan had considered evaporating or storing underground the tritium-laced water from the plant as an alternative. However, from the perspective of cost and technical feasibility, the Japanese government decided to dilute the contaminated water and discharge it into the sea. The plan has been facing strong opposition from the Japanese fish industry and the public, with fishery industry representatives saying it would undo years of work to restore their reputation. "We are dead against a release of contaminated water to the ocean as it could have a catastrophic impact on the future of Japan's fishing industry," Hiroshi Kishi, head of the national federation of fisheries cooperatives known as JF Zengyoren, told a meeting with government officials last October. Japanese workers try to clear radioactive emissions on the roof of a house in Onami, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, on Oct. 25, 2011. (Xinhua/Kenichiro Seki) According to Kishi, the release of radioactive water could trigger other countries to tighten restrictions on imports of Japanese fishery products, reversing a recent trend toward loosening. Currently, a number of countries and regions continue to impose restrictions on Japanese agricultural and fishery products as a result of the Fukushima crisis amid continued concerns about the safety of the produce. During a meeting with Suga last week, Kishi reiterated his organization's ardent opposition to the idea of dumping the radioactive water into the sea. "It is inevitable that there would be reputational damage regardless of how the water will be disposed of, whether into the sea or into the air," he said. "I want the government to clarify how it intends to respond to such reputational damage." Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama said last Friday that while working on the concerns of the fisheries industry, the government hopes to seek cooperation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other global organizations, while maintaining transparency over the matter. The Japanese government had initially hoped to make a decision on the release of the water last October. However, it delayed the decision due to fierce opposition from local fishermen. According to a survey conducted by public broadcaster NHK late last year, 51 percent of respondents said they are "against" or "quite against" the idea of discharge the wastewater into the sea, while only 18 percent said they are in favor of the plan. The sign of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is seen in the district of Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, March 7, 2015. (Xinhua/Liu Tian) Another poll conducted by Asahi Shimbun newspaper in January showed that 55 percent of respondents are against the government's plan to discharge contaminated radioactive wastewater in Fukushima into the sea, while 32 percent said they support it. Yukio Edano, the leader of Japan's main opposition party the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) strongly condemned the plan on Saturday, saying the government's decision is unacceptable and a complete disregard for the voices of the people of Fukushima. Some environmental groups including Friends of the Earth Japan and the Citizens' Commission on Nuclear Energy said on Monday that they have collected more than 64,000 signatures from 88 countries and regions in a petition to the government against the decision to dump Fukushima wastewater into the sea. The environmental groups called the government's decision a "crude way of deciding" without adequate discussion and called for it to be withdrawn. The plan also raised concerns from neighboring countries about possible negative impact on people's health and fishery businesses resulting from the discharge. China on Tuesday once again expressed serious concerns about Japan's decision to discharge contaminated water from Fukushima nuclear station by releasing it into the Pacific Ocean. On Monday, China expressed its grave concerns through diplomatic channels, with Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian saying that China urged the Japanese side to take a responsible attitude and treat the issue of nuclear waste disposal with caution. Zhao stressed that proper disposal of nuclear waste is related to international public interests and the vital interests of neighboring countries. It should be handled carefully and properly to avoid further damaging the marine environment, food safety and human health. Meanwhile, South Korea on Monday also voiced "grave concerns", with foreign ministry spokesman Choi Young-sam saying "It will be difficult to accept if the Japanese side decides to release the contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant without sufficient consultations." "Our government expresses grave concerns as the decision can have direct and indirect impact on the safety of our people and the surrounding environment," he added. Japan's neighbors react strongly to Fukushima water release decision April 13, 2021 (Mainichi Japan) https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20210413/p2g/00m/0na/061000c Environmental activists wearing a mask of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and protective suits denounce the Japanese government's decision on Fukushima water, near the Japanese embassy in Seoul, South Korea, on April 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man) SEOUL/BEIJING (Kyodo) -- China and South Korea on Tuesday expressed opposition to Japan's decision to release into the sea treated radioactive water that has accumulated at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, with Beijing calling the move "extremely irresponsible." The South Korean Foreign Ministry summoned Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Koichi Aiboshi and lodged a protest after Koo Yun Cheol, minister for government policy coordination, said Seoul "firmly opposes" the Japanese decision. The strong reactions from some of Japan's neighbors followed the decision by the government of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga earlier in the day to start discharging the treated water into the Pacific in around two years' time. The decision had followed years of discussions on how to dispose of the water used to cool melted fuel at the plant in northeastern Japan, which was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011. China, South Korea and Taiwan have all kept restrictions on food imports from Japan in the wake of the nuclear disaster. The latest decision is likely to delay the lifting of restrictions still in place. China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Japan had made the decision "unilaterally," saying that releasing the water would "hurt the interest of the people in neighboring countries." Tokyo "should not arbitrarily start to release (the water) until it reaches an agreement with related countries and the international community," the ministry added, suggesting China could take measures against Japan's move. Meanwhile, the United States showed understanding of the Japanese plan, saying shortly after the Japanese announcement that Tokyo's decision-making process was "transparent." "We thank Japan for its transparent efforts in its decision to dispose of the treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi site," Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted, adding that the United States looks forward to Japan's continued coordination with the International Atomic Energy Agency. State Department spokesman Ned Price emphasized in a press release that Japan has worked closely with the U.N. nuclear watchdog to manage the aftermath of the accident 10 years ago, including over cleanup efforts. Noting that the United States is aware that the Japanese government examined several options related to the management of the processed water, Price said Japan has been "transparent about its decision" and "appears to have adopted an approach in accordance with globally accepted nuclear safety standards." Koo, the South Korean official, expressed his country's opposition at the outset of an emergency meeting of related ministries held to discuss responses to the Japanese decision. He later told reporters that Seoul finds the decision highly regrettable. "The decision...was a unilateral move made without enough discussion or understanding from us, South Korea, which is the closest country geographically," Koo said at a press briefing, adding that South Koreans including lawmakers and civic groups are also strongly opposed to it. "The government will never tolerate any actions that could be harmful to our people's health," Koo added. South Korea has banned imports of fisheries products from Fukushima and several other areas. Koo said Seoul will decide whether to expand the measure by taking into consideration the situation when Japan releases the water. In the capital Seoul, several civic groups held a rally protesting Japan's decision, calling on Tokyo to scrap the plan. "The sea is not a trash can. The Japanese government has no right at all to dirty the waters," said one member of a group at the rally. Taiwan's Atomic Energy Council said the decision was regrettable, noting that legislators and others on the self-ruled island have opposed such a move. The Fukushima Daiichi plant suffered core meltdowns in the wake of the March 2011 multiple disasters. Massive amounts of radioactive water have been generated in the process of cooling melted reactor fuel. The water is treated at a processing facility on the premises to remove most contaminants but the process cannot remove tritium, a radioactive byproduct of nuclear reactors. The treated water, stored in tanks, has been building up, with storage capacity expected to run out from around fall next year. Is Japan downplaying the danger Fukushima water poses to human health? South China Morning Post, 13 April 2021 https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/3129354/japan-downplaying-danger-fukushima-water-poses-human-health • Tokyo’s decision to release over a million tons of contaminated water from the nuclear plant into the Pacific has angered China, fishermen and Greenpeace, but Japan insists safety standards are being met • However, Tokyo’s focus on the nuclide tritium is disingenuous, campaigners say. Why the silence on strontium, rhodium, iodine and ruthenium, they ask Julian Ryall Tanks containing contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant which suffered meltdowns on March 11, 2011. Photo: EPA Environmental groups incensed at Japan ’s decision to release more than a million tons of contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean are accusing the government of downplaying the true scale of the danger the water poses to human health. After a cabinet meeting in Tokyo on Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced that, “Disposing of the treated waters is an unavoidable issue for decommissioning the Fukushima Daiichi plant.” He said the water would be released into the Pacific “while ensuring that safety standards are cleared by a wide margin and firm steps are taken to prevent reputational damage” to the local fisheries industry. People light candles to mark the 10th anniversary of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands and triggered the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in Futaba, Fukushima prefecture. Photo: Reuters Fishermen are deeply unhappy with the decision, which they have long opposed on the grounds that it will decimate an industry already struggling to overcome perceptions that their catches have not been not safe for human consumption since the 2011 tsunami and earthquake that prompted a meltdown at the nuclear power plant. Most of the water Japan plans to release was used after the meltdown to cool the plant’s reactors. The Japanese government contends that, following treatment, the water is now safe to release but its claims have prompted widespread scepticism. Hiroshi Kishi, the head of the national federation of fisheries co-operatives, said the decision was “extremely regrettable” and “utterly unacceptable”. Suga’s decision was also criticised by some of Japan’s immediate neighbours, including South Korea and China , and organisations concerned about the impact on the environment and residents of northeast Japan and further afield. China has ‘concerns’ over plan to release Fukushima water into ocean 12 Apr 2021 “The government has repeatedly acted contrary to the promise it made that it would not take any action without the understanding of all concerned,” said Hideyuki Ban, co-director of the Tokyo-based Citizens’ Nuclear Information Centre. “It is an act that makes us lose confidence in the government’s promise not only for the present but also for the future.” Countries that already ban imports of seafood and other products from northeast Japan would strengthen those regulations and other countries might introduce similar limits, which would deal another blow to the local fisheries, agriculture and tourism industries, said Ban. He also pointed out that five United Nations experts, including the Special Rapporteur on toxins and human rights and the Special Rapporteur on the right to physical and mental health, issued a statement as recently as March 11 this year saying that releasing contaminated water into the Pacific would increase the future health risks for children and be a violation of human rights. Ryo Kimura tosses his daughter, Reni Kimura, in the air in an area hit by the 2011 tsunami, on its 10th anniversary, in Namie, Fukushima prefecture, Japan. Photo: Reuters Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist for Greenpeace, said the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco), the operator of the Fukushima plant, had still not permitted an independent analysis of the radionuclides that are contaminating the water, although a leaked Tepco document had shown that the vast majority of the water stored at the site was contaminated with numerous radioactive elements, including iodine, ruthenium, rhodium, antimony, tellurium, cobalt and strontium-90. A study by the Kahoko Shinpo newspaper confirmed that levels of iodine-129 and ruthenium-106 exceeded acceptable levels in 45 out of 84 samples collected in 2017. Iodine-129 has a half-life of 15.7 million years and can cause cancer of the thyroid, while ruthenium-106 is produced by nuclear fission and high doses can be toxic or carcinogenic when ingested. Tepco subsequently confirmed that levels of strontium-90 were more than 100 times above legally permitted levels in nearly 65,000 tons of water that had already been treated and were 20,000 times above safety levels set by the government in several storage tanks at the site. Burnie said the Japanese government had been “very effective” in focusing debate on the contaminated water on the presence of tritium, which is less harmful than the other nuclides, and made no mention of the other contaminants. That narrative had been assisted by the Japanese media, which had largely chosen to accept the government’s statements at face value, he said. “They have managed to put the focus on tritium, which is still an issue, but 72 per cent of the water that is presently stored in tanks at the site – that is around 800,000 cubic metres of water – still has to go through the ALPS [Advanced Liquid Processing System] procedure because they have not been able to meet the standards required for discharge,” he said. Data from Tepco on 2,000 cubic metres of water indicated lower levels of strontium, iodine-129 and other contaminants, but these were still well above the “non-detect” levels that were previously promised before the government would release the water. Burnie said there were still “huge uncertainties” surrounding the Fukushima site. He said his previous experience of discharges from other nuclear plants suggested there would be levels of carbon-14 and technetium, both of which can build up rapidly in life forms. However, neither had been mentioned by Tepco or the Japanese government, he said. Burnie was also dismissive of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s decision to rubber-stamp the decision, saying, “The IAEA will of course approve the decision and provide scientific justification because its function is to promote nuclear power. “I have never seen a discharge that the IAEA did not like the look of in all the 60 years the organisation has been around,” he added. “It’s no surprise they have been brought in to provide cover to the Japanese government, but they are only endorsing what the industry wants to do, so they cannot be considered a neutral observer.” Tepco has previously insisted the water must be disposed of because the site is running short of space for storage tanks, but some critics have said this is disingenuous, as many hectares of surrounding farmland cannot be utilised for generations as it is contaminated by radiation from the accident at the plant, while space within the perimeter of the plant has also been set aside for storing the molten fuel debris once it is recovered from the three reactors that suffered meltdowns. Burnie said that procedure was not going to happen for many years, and might never be achieved. “This is the very core of the problem,” he said. “The whole time frame for the removal of the molten fuel – which they suggest will happen between 2040 and 2050 – is sheer fantasy. It’s utter nonsense. And in the meantime, they will be accumulating more than 450,000 tons of water. And they will want to release that as well.” South Korea calls in Japanese ambassador to protest decision to dump Fukushima water into ocean RT, 13 April 2021 FILE PHOTO: Storage tanks for contaminated water stand at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan. © Tomohiro Ohsumi / Pool Photo via AP South Korea’s foreign ministry summoned Tokyo’s ambassador on Tuesday to protest the Japanese government’s decision to release more than one million tons of contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea. Tokyo’s ambassador, Koichi Aiboshi, and South Korea’s second vice foreign minister, Choi Jong-Moon, held talks within hours of Japan confirming that the country’s cabinet had backed the plan to release the contaminated water that has been held in tanks for the past two years. Japan’s decision has been opposed by industries that rely on the surrounding water, and by countries in the region, including South Korea, due to concerns about the environmental impact of dumping the water into the Pacific Ocean. Choi chastised the Japanese ambassador for not being completely forthcoming with details of the plan to release the water, including how much of the contaminated fluid would be dumped and how quickly it would be released, according to the South Korean foreign ministry. The second vice foreign minister also expressed disappointment over the lack of talks between Japan and neighboring countries before the decision was made on how to dispose of the water from Fukushima. “Our position is that a decision should not be made unless there is a clear assessment on what impact it would have on people’s health and the marine environment,” a South Korean foreign ministry official said after the meeting. Japan’s ambassador publicly responded to South Korea’s concerns in a statement released to local media, claiming that simulations show “it will not have an adverse impact on the marine environment in the neighboring countries.” The decision was expected despite the opposition that has emerged to it, with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga calling it the “most realistic” option and “unavoidable” if the area around Fukushima is to recover. The meeting between South Korea and Japan comes after the Chinese government issued a condemnation of Tokyo’s plan for similarly failing to consult Beijing about dumping the contaminated water. Speaking on Tuesday, the Chinese foreign ministry called Japan’s actions “extremely irresponsible” and warned they will “seriously damage international public health and safety.” Countries react to Japan’s plans to release Fukushima water into ocean Asahi Shimbun, April 13, 2021 http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14329966 A temporary site where bags filled with contaminated waste from the Fukushima nuclear accident were swept away during Typhoon No. 19 in Tamura, Fukushima Prefecture, in October 2019. (Asahi Shimbun file photo) South Korea summoned Japan’s ambassador to Seoul on Tuesday to protest the Japanese government’s plan to release huge amounts of contaminated water that have built up at the wrecked Fukushima plant after treatment and dilution. China also reacted with strong opposition to the plan and the following lists detailed reactions from Japan’s neighbors in Asia along with the U.S. and other parties. Japan often has testy relations with China and South Korea over historical and territorial issues. KOO YOON-CHEOL, SOUTH KOREA’S OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT POLICY COORDINATION “Our government expresses strong regret over the decision and will take all necessary steps with the safety of our citizens as the top priority. “The decision can never be accepted and would not only cause danger to the safety and maritime environment of neighboring countries, it was also made unilaterally without sufficient consultations with our country, which is the closest neighbor to Japan. “We will strongly demand Japan take concrete steps to ensure the safety of our citizens and prevent any damage to the maritime environment. “Second, we will convey our government’s concerns to the international community, including the IAEA, and request it seek transparent information and international inspections over the entire process of handling the contaminated water. “Third, we actively demand the Japanese government release relevant information based on our right guaranteed under international law, while working with the international community to thoroughly verify the entire water treatment process. We will never accept any behavior that could cause damage to our people.” CHINA FOREIGN MINISTRY “The Fukushima nuclear accident is one of the most serious in world. The leak of large amounts of radioactive materials has had far-reaching implications on the marine environment, food safety and human health. “Despite doubts and opposition from home and abroad, Japan has unilaterally decided to release the Fukushima nuclear wastewater into the sea before exhausting all safe ways of disposal and without fully consulting with neighboring countries and the international community. This action is extremely irresponsible, and will seriously damage international public health and safety, and the vital interests of people in neighboring countries. “We strongly urge the Japanese side to face up to its responsibility, follow the science, fulfil its international obligations and duly respond to the serious concerns of the international community, neighboring countries and its own people. It should reevaluate the issue and refrain from wantonly discharging the wastewater before reaching consensus with all stakeholders and the IAEA through full consultations.” JOANNE OU, TAIWAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESWOMAN “The Foreign Ministry will continue to express our concerns to Japan in the future and closely monitor related developments in this matter.” “The Japanese government had informed us before it made an official decision, and it has promised to follow the guidelines given by ICRP (International Commission on Radiological Proctection) to dilute, filter, purify before the discharge, and to continue to provide information to the international society.” U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT “In this unique and challenging situation, Japan has weighed the options and effects, has been transparent about its decision, and appears to have adopted an approach in accordance with globally accepted nuclear safety standards. “We look forward to the government of Japan’s continued coordination and communication as it monitors the effectiveness of this approach.” INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY (IAEA) “Today’s decision by the Government of Japan is a milestone that will help pave the way for continued progress in the decommissioning of the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant,” IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi in an emailed statement. “Tanks with the water occupy large areas of the site, and water management, including the disposal of the treated water in a safe and transparent manner involving all stakeholders, is of key importance for the sustainability of these decommissioning activities. “The Japanese Government’s decision is in line with practice globally, even though the large amount of water at the Fukushima plant makes it a unique and complex case. “We will work closely with Japan before, during and after the discharge of the water.” KAZUE SUZUKI, GREENPEACE JAPAN “The Japanese government has once again failed the people of Fukushima. “The government has taken the wholly unjustified decision to deliberately contaminate the Pacific Ocean with radioactive wastes. 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. “Rather than using the best available technology to minimize radiation hazards by storing and processing the water over the long term, they have opted for the cheapest option, dumping the water into the Pacific Ocean.” 'Japan Did not Provide Sufficient Information on Release Plan' 2021-04-13 19:13:15/ http://world.kbs.co.kr/service/news_view.htm?Seq_Code=160817&lang=e The government says Japan has not provided sufficient information before announcing its decision to release radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean. A senior official of the South Korean Foreign Ministry relayed the stance in a meeting with reporters on Tuesday calling Tokyo’s decision sudden and unilateral. The official said the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission had requested Tokyo to provide information regarding the release but has yet to receive essential information, including the initial date of the planned release, its duration and the quantity of water to be disposed. The other essential information concerns methods of disposal, including how to take the contaminated water from the storage tank into oceans. Seoul reportedly brought up the issue to Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Koichi Aiboshi after the ministry summoned him to lodge a complaint on the decision. IAEA Ready To Support Japan On Fukushima Water Disposal, Director General Grossi Says https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/pressreleases/iaea-ready-to-support-japan-on-fukushima-water-disposal-director-general-grossi-says IAEA, 11/2021 Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi welcomed Japan’s announcement that it has decided how to dispose of treated water stored at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and he said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stands ready to provide technical support in monitoring and reviewing the plan’s safe and transparent implementation. Japan’s chosen water disposal method is both technically feasible and in line with international practice, IAEA Director General Grossi said. Controlled water discharges into the sea are routinely used by operating nuclear power plants in the world and in the region under specific regulatory authorisations based on safety and environmental impact assessments. “Today’s decision by the Government of Japan is a milestone that will help pave the way for continued progress in the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant,” Mr Grossi said. “Tanks with the water occupy large areas of the site, and water management, including the disposal of the treated water in a safe and transparent manner involving all stakeholders, is of key importance for the sustainability of these decommissioning activities.” He added: “The Japanese Government’s decision is in line with practice globally, even though the large amount of water at the Fukushima plant makes it a unique and complex case.” “Nuclear safety is a national responsibility and it was for the Government of Japan to decide how to address the critical issue of water management. I’m confident that the Government will continue to interact with all parties in a transparent and open way as it works to implement today’s decision,” Director General Grossi said. Japan has requested the IAEA’s cooperation in the disposal of the water by the IAEA dispatching international expert missions to review the country’s plans and activities against IAEA safety standards and supporting and being present at environmental monitoring operations there. “We will work closely with Japan before, during and after the discharge of the water,” said Mr Grossi, who visited the Fukushima nuclear power plant last year. “Our cooperation and our presence will help build confidence – in Japan and beyond – that the water disposal is carried out without an adverse impact on human health and the environment.” The IAEA and Japan have been cooperating extensively over the past decade to deal with the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, in areas such as radiation monitoring, remediation, waste management and decommissioning. Since the Director General took office in December 2019, he has offered IAEA support related to the Fukushima water issue in meetings with senior Japanese officials, including then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during an official visit to the country in February 2020. Last month, he held a virtual meeting with Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshi Kajiyama. The IAEA’s safety reviews, and other technical support, are based on its safety standards, which constitute the worldwide reference for protecting the public and the environment from harmful effects of ionizing radiation. South Korea 'firmly opposes' releasing treated Fukushima water • A number of water storage tanks are seen at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. | KYODO • KYODO, AFP-JIJI, • April 13, 2021 https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/04/13/national/fukushima-water-reactions/ A high-level South Korean government official said Tuesday that Seoul “firmly opposes” Japan’s decision to release into the sea treated radioactive water that has accumulated at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Koo Yun-cheol, minister for government policy coordination, made the remark at the outset of an emergency meeting of related ministries held to discuss responses to the Japanese decision. He later told reporters that Seoul finds the decision highly regrettable and said it was unacceptable. The strongly worded reaction from South Korea followed the Japanese government’s decision earlier in the day to discharge the water into the Pacific, starting in around two years’ time, despite worries among local fishermen and neighboring countries. China also hit out at Japan’s decision on Tuesday, calling it as “extremely irresponsible.” China said Japan’s plan would be damaging to public health and complained Tokyo had decided to dispose of the nuclear waste water “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 neighboring countries,” the foreign ministry said in a statement on its website. Meanwhile, the U.S. government showed understanding of the Japanese plan, saying shortly after the Japanese announcement that Tokyo’s decision-making process was “transparent.” “We thank Japan for its transparent efforts in its decision to dispose of the treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi site,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted, adding that the United States looks forward to Japan’s continued coordination with the International Atomic Energy Agency. State Department spokesman Ned Price also emphasized in a press release that Japan has worked closely with the U.N. nuclear watchdog to manage the aftermath of the accident triggered by a massive quake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan 10 years ago, including over cleanup efforts. Noting that the United States is aware that the Japanese government examined several options related to the management of the processed water, Price said Japan has been “transparent about its decision” and “appears to have adopted an approach in accordance with globally accepted nuclear safety standards.” The Fukushima No. 1 plant suffered core meltdowns in the wake of a devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. Massive amounts of radioactive water have been generated in the process of cooling melted reactor fuel. The water is treated at a processing facility on the premises to remove most contaminants but the process cannot remove tritium, a radioactive byproduct of nuclear reactors. The treated water, stored in tanks, has been building up, with storage capacity expected to run out as early as fall next year. Japan's unilateral decision to discharge waste water from Fukushima nuclear complex into the ocean is extremely irresponsible: FM https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202104/1220910.shtml Global Times, April 13, 2021 Photo:VCG Japan's unilateral decision to discharge waste water from the Fukushima nuclear complex into the ocean is extremely irresponsible and will seriously damage international public health and the vital interests of the people of neighboring countries, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Tuesday. As a close neighbor of Japan and a stake holder, China expresses grave concern over this decision, the spokesperson said. China strongly urges Japan to re-examine the disposal of the nuclear waste water and refrain from starting the discharge before reaching agreements with all relevant countries and the IAEA via full consultation, the spokesperson said. The spokesperson stressed that the ocean is the common property of mankind, and the disposal of nuclear waste from the nuclear complex in Fukushima Prefecture is not a domestic issue in Japan. China urges Japan to adopt a scientific attitude, fulfill its international obligations, and respond to the serious concerns of the international community, neighboring countries and its own people. China will continue to closely follow the development of the situation together with the international community and reserves the right to make a further response, the spokesperson said. The comments were made after Japan announced its decision on Tuesday. The plan was approved during a cabinet meeting of ministers early Tuesday, which will allow Japan to release the radioactive water in two years. Japan depicted its decision as the best option despite strong objections from the international community, and especially neighboring countries. The Fukushima nuclear leak was one of the most serious nuclear accidents in the world, resulting in the leakage of a large amount of radioactive materials, and has had a profound impact on the marine environment, food safety and human health, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said. According to the assessment of the IAEA, discharging the tritium-containing waste water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean will have an impact on the marine environment and public health of the surrounding countries. The existing treated waste water still contains other radionuclides and needs further purification. A report by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Energy also believes that the impact of the nuclear waste water from Fukushima on the ecological environment in the ocean needs to be continuously tracked and observed. A German oceanic research institute had earlier pointed out that contaminated waste water will pollute more than half of the Pacific Ocean in 57 days from the date of discharge, and will spread to the global waters 10 years later, as the Fukushima coast has one of the strongest ocean currents in the world. 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 • Explainer: everything you need to know about the water release The storage tanks for treated water are seen at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Japan. Photograph: Sakura Murakami/Reuters Justin McCurry in Tokyo and agencies Guardian, 13 April 2021 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. Fukushima fishermen concerned for future over release of radioactive water Read more 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.” Everything you need to know about the plan to release treated Fukushima water Japan has announced it will dump 1m tonnes of contaminated water into the ocean, sparking controversy • Fukushima: Japan announces it will dump contaminated water into sea The storage tanks for treated water at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant. They will be full by the second half of 2022. Photograph: Kyodo/Reuters Agence France-Presse Guardian, 13 April 2021 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/13/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-plan-to-release-treated-fukushima-water Japan’s decision to release more than 1m tonnes of treated radioactive water from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea has sparked controversy inside and outside the country. Here are some questions and answers about the plan, which is expected to take decades to complete. What is the processed water? Since the 2011 nuclear disaster, radioactive water has accumulated at the plant, including liquid used for cooling, and rain and groundwater that has seeped in. An extensive pumping and filtration system known as Alps (advanced liquid processing system) extracts tonnes of newly contaminated water each day and filters out most radioactive elements. Three stories of hope: 10 years on from Japan's triple disaster Read more The plant operator, Tepco, has built more than 1,000 tanks to hold some 1.25m tonnes of processed water at the site but they will be full by the second half of 2022. The Alps process removes most of the radioactive isotopes to levels below international safety guidelines for nuclear plant waste water. But it cannot remove some, including tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that experts say is only harmful to humans in very large doses. The half-life of tritium – the time needed for one half the atoms of a radioactive isotope to decay – is 12.3 years. In humans, it has an estimated biological half-life of seven to 10 days. How will it be released? Japan’s government has backed a plan to dilute the processed water and release it into the sea. The government says the process meets international standards, and it has been endorsed by the International Atomic Energy Agency. “Releasing into the ocean is done elsewhere,” IAEA’s director general, Rafael Mariano Grossi, has said. “It’s not something new. There is no scandal here.” The release is not likely to begin for at least two years and will take decades. A government spokesman, Katsunobo Kato, said the dilution would reduce tritium levels to well below standards set domestically and by the World Health Organization for drinking water, with IAEA supervision. Why is it controversial? Environmental groups like Greenpeace, which opposes nuclear power, say radioactive materials like carbon-14 that remain in the water can “be easily concentrated in the food chain”. They allege that accumulated doses over time could damage DNA, and want to see the water stored until technology is developed to improve filtration. Local fishing communities worry that years of work to convince consumers that Fukushima’s seafood is safe will be wiped out by the release. “The message from the government that the water is safe is not reaching the public, that’s the huge problem,” an official with the association of Fukushima fishermen unions told Agence France-Presse. He said trading partners had warned they would stop selling their products and consumers had said they would stop eating Fukushima seafood if the water were released: “Our efforts in the past decade to restore the fish industry will be for nothing.” What about Fukushima seafood? The government says radioactive elements in the water are far below international standards, pointing out that waste water is regularly discharged from nuclear plants elsewhere. Even releasing all the stored water in a single year would produce “no more than one-thousandth the exposure impact of natural radiation in Japan,” the foreign ministry said in a reply to a UN report. For food, Japan nationally sets a standard of no more than 100 becquerels of radioactivity per kilogram (Bq/kg), compared with 1,250 Bq/kg in the EU and 1,200 in the US. But for Fukushima produce, the level is set even lower, at just 50 Bq/kg, in an attempt to win consumer trust. Hundreds of thousands of food items have been tested in the region since 2011. What do scientists say? Michiaki Kai, an expert on radiation risk assessment at Japan’s Oita University of Nursing and Health Sciences, said it was important to control the dilution and volume of released water. But “there is consensus among scientists that the impact on health is minuscule”, he told AFP. Still, “it can’t be said the risk is zero, which is what causes controversy”. Geraldine Thomas, chair of molecular pathology at Imperial College London and an expert on radiation, said tritium “does not pose a health risk at all – and particularly so when you factor in the dilution factor of the Pacific Ocean”. She said carbon-14 was also not a health risk, arguing that chemical contaminants in seawater like mercury should concern consumers more “than anything that comes from the Fukushima site”. On eating Fukushima seafood, “I would have no hesitation whatsoever,” she added. Japan Govt Decides Ocean Release of Fukushima N-Plant Water https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2021041300629 Tokyo, April 13 (Jiji Press)--The Japanese government on Tuesday decided the release into the ocean of treated radioactive water from the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station. The decision, made at a meeting of relevant ministers, came as the government of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga aims to accelerate work to decommission the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. <9501> plant in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, despite strong opposition from the fisheries industry, which is concerned about reputational damage to marine products from the water release into the sea. The ocean dumping is certain to draw anger also from nearby countries, such as China and South Korea. "Disposal of the treated water is an unavoidable challenge for the decommissioning of the plant," Suga said at the meeting. "The government concluded that the ocean release is a realistic method," he added. The prime minister said: "We will aim to ensure safety that is higher than existing standards. The government will make all-out efforts to deal with unfounded rumors." Govt. approves release of treated water into sea NHK, 13 April 2021 https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20210413_24/ The Japanese government has officially decided to release treated water from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the ocean. It will be discharged in about two years after being diluted. The Cabinet has endorsed a draft bill on the matter. Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide is promising transparency as the process moves forward. Suga said on Tuesday, "This is a path that we cannot avoid in order to realize Fukushima's regional reconstruction and decommission the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. We will execute it only after ensuring the process is safe. Negative rumors must not stand in the way, or extinguish the hopes of people in Fukushima for recovery. The government will put out information based on science. We will do the best we can. It's all hands on deck." The decision comes a decade after a massive earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan, triggering a triple meltdown at the power plant. Water is used to cool molten nuclear fuel. It's mixing with rain and groundwater flowing into damaged reactor buildings, accumulating at a rate of 140 tons per day. The facility has enough tanks to hold about 1.37 million tons of wastewater. But it's already at 90 percent of capacity. The remainder is expected to fill up sometime next year. The water is treated in order to remove most of the radioactive material, but still contains radioactive tritium. The concentration will be diluted to one-40th of what is required under national regulations. That's equivalent to about one-seventh of the World Health Organization's standard for drinking water. The government will ask the plant's operator, known by its acronym TEPCO, to secure equipment needed to release the treated water in about two years. The plan calls for cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency to disseminate transparent and objective information at home and abroad. It also pledges support for the local fishery, tourism and agricultural industries. If there is damage to the reputation of an industry, the plan calls for TEPCO to provide compensation. TEPCO President Kobayakawa Tomoaki said, "We will work hard to fulfill our responsibility to strike a balance between regional reconstruction, and decommissioning the reactors throughout the lengthy decommissioning process." In Fukushima, reaction from residents is mixed. A resident said, "I think as long as it's within international standards, it can't be helped under the current circumstances." Another resident said, "No one is satisfied with the decision. A few words from the prime minister, and the process is set in stone. This is wrong." People in the fishing industry in particular have been strongly opposed to the plan. The head of a national industry group has released a statement protesting the decision and urging the government to clarify how it will alleviate safety concerns in Japan and abroad.

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