Japan begins releasing Fukushima wastewater into ocean amid protests

Tokyo, Aug 24 (EFE).- Japan began on Thursday to release treated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean amid protests both in and outside the country.

The discharge of the water began around 1 pm after last-minute checks on the water pumps and the opening of some valves manually, the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), said.

Junichi Matsumoto, the TEPCO executive in charge of the discharge, said at a press conference that the process would be stopped if any kind of anomaly was detected.

TEPCO said it proceeded with the discharge after ensuring that the radioactive waste concentration in the water was within the stipulated levels and that there were no irregularities in its systems.

The discharge of water has begun over 12 years after an earthquake and tsunami caused a crisis at the Fukushima plant in March 2011.

The water being discharged has been treated by a pumping and filtration system known as ALPS (Advanced Liquid Processing System).

This system is able to completely remove 62 types of radioactive materials, with the exception tritium and Carbon-14.

The Fukushima water discharge will be monitored by the Japanese authorities and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to ensure it conforms to safety standards.

The Japanese government and TEPCO devised this method of discharge due to a lack of space to continue storing water in the tanks installed in the plant’s complex.

At Thursday’s press conference, TEPCO officials said that an analysis of the concentration of tritium found levels to be between 43 and 63 becquerels per liter, which are far below the government’s standard of 60,000 becquerels and TEPCO’s own limit of 1,500 becquerels, public broadcaster NHK reported.

The company said that after the water is released, it will send a boat to monitor the area and water conditions – it did not specify at what time – and the data will be posted on its website in real time to ensure transparency.

The first discharge of about 7,800 tonnes of wastewater will take place over 17 days.

However, since the generation of contaminated water cannot be completely stopped during decommissioning of the plant, the process is expected to last for about 30 years.

The National Federation Of Fisheries Cooperatives Association has strongly opposed the plan, arguing that the measure will prevent fishermen in Fukushima from being able to get rid of the stigma that has plagued their catches for years due to fears of radiation since 2011.

Some sectors of Japanese society, voices of the international scientific community and environmental organizations such as Greenpeace, have also opposed the release of the water, in addition to neighboring countries, especially China.

On Thursday, several environmental and anti-nuclear citizen groups called for new demonstrations in different parts of Japan to protest against the measure.

Similar protests were also organized in Seoul, as in previous days. EFE


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