Pacific activists have been urging Japan to halt plans to dump the wastewater in the ocean until consultations and an independent review takes place. Photograph: Supplied/23011603
Japan is potentially revising the timing of a planned release of treated but still radioactive wastewater into the sea to “around spring or summer”.
plan to discharge waste from the Fukushima nuclear power plant has been
vehemently opposed by some Pacific nations, as well as China and South Korea,
fishermen, and activists over fears it won't be safe.
Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna has indicated Japan could
lose its Dialogue Partner status over the lack of information about the dumping
Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told media the government has adopted a
revised action plan, which includes enhanced efforts to ensure safety and
measures to financially support the local fishing industry and a new release
target of "around spring or summer this year."
government and the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), have
said that more than 1 million tons of radioactive water needs to be discarded.
They said the water is stored in about 1000 tanks at the plant and are hampering
the plant's decommissioning and risk leaking in the event of a major earthquake
the current plan, TEPCO will transport the treated water through a pipeline
from the tanks to a coastal facility, where it will be diluted with seawater
and sent through an undersea tunnel, currently under construction, to an
offshore outlet. The company has acknowledged the possibility of rough winter
weather and sea conditions delaying the tunnel progress.
President Tomoaki Kobayakawa said that despite the government's new timing for
the wastewater release, his company still aims to have the facility ready by
the spring. He also acknowledged a lack of local understanding about the
release and pledged to continue efforts to ease safety concerns.
of the radioactivity is removed from the water during treatment, but tritium
cannot be removed, and low levels of some other radionuclides also remain. The
government and TEPCO say the environmental and health impacts will be
negligible as the water will be slowly released after further treatment and
dilution by large amounts of seawater.
some scientists say the impact of long-term, low-dose exposure to tritium and
other radionuclides on the environment and humans is still unknown and the release
plan should be delayed. They say tritium affects humans more when it is
consumed in fish.
is cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to increase
the safety, transparency and understanding of the water discharge plan. An IAEA
team that visited Japan a number of times for talks and plant inspections last
year will visit again later this month to meet with nuclear regulators. It will
release a final report before the planned release begins.