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New wave of public anger, pollution concerns triggered as Japan pushes through plan to dump nuclear wastewater into sea
Last Updated: 2022-08-13 08:38 | Xinhua
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A new wave of public anger and serious concerns over sea pollution have been triggered in and outside Japan after the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO) recently started construction of facilities that will discharge nuclear wastewater from the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the sea.
 
Many Japanese citizens and civic groups have gone online and offline expressing their outrage -- "The ocean is not a dustbin!" "No more polluting the ocean!" and calling out the Japanese government and TEPCO as dishonest, irresponsible, hypocritical and selfish.
 
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, resulting in a level-7 nuclear accident, the highest on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale.
 
The plant has been generating a massive amount of radiation-tainted water since the accident happened as it needs water to cool the reactors. As TEPCO has still not found solutions to remove the melted-down cores, highly radioactive water will continue to be produced.
 
Japanese environmental groups have been seriously concerned that if TEPCO starts discharging nuclear-contaminated water into the sea, it will be a catastrophe of marine pollution with no end in sight, leaving immeasurable long-term impacts on the marine ecological environment, aquatic product safety, and public health in the Pacific coastal regions.
 
Japan's fishing industry and other relevant groups fear that once the nuclear wastewater dumping starts around next spring, the pollution of the waters around Fukushima and the damage to the fishing industry will be irreversible.
 
A panel of experts organized by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry had proposed five options when considering how to deal with the contaminated water, and the Japanese government eventually opted to discharge the water into the sea, which "takes the shortest time and costs the least," passing on the risk to the whole world.
 
By making the controversial decision to discharge nuclear-contaminated water into the sea, the Japanese government and TEPCO have ignored the legitimate and reasonable concerns of the international community and their own people. Japan should return to the track of full consultation with stakeholders and relevant international agencies, analysts say.
 
The international community has also raised a variety of questions about the legitimacy of the plan, the credibility of the data provided by TEPCO, the purification efficiency of the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS), and the uncertainty of the impact on the marine environment. A task force of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had requested clarification and put forward suggestions for improvement after a visit to Japan in February.
 
Nuclear-contaminated water must be disposed of in an open, transparent, scientific and safe manner. Alternative plans should be taken into consideration by Japan and it must accept strict supervision by the IAEA, experts have stressed.
 
For the international community, Japan's wilful pushing through of the plan to discharge nuclear-contaminated water into the sea has ignored the legitimate concerns of countries in the region and interests of the whole international community, exposing the country's selfish nature regarding its international responsibilities and obligations.
 
The Korean Federation for Environmental Movements, a South Korean civic environmental organization, warned that if nuclear wastewater is discharged into the ocean, it would endanger marine products and deepen marine contamination further. The contaminated water would inevitably spread into the Pacific Ocean, polluting oceans near neighboring countries of Japan.
 
South Korean government officials have urged Japan to take responsible measures that are safe from a scientific perspective and comply with international laws and standards.
 
Civic activists in Japan have pointed out Japan's hypocritical stance on the plan, saying Japan's calculation behind the decision obviously overrides the safety of the fishing industry and the health of residents near the surrounding waters.
 
The ocean belongs to all mankind. Japan should stop treating it as a "dustbin" in its own courtyard, halt its plan immediately and stop harming the marine homeland of mankind for its private interests, environmentalists say.

(Editor:Wang Su)

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New wave of public anger, pollution concerns triggered as Japan pushes through plan to dump nuclear wastewater into sea
Source:Xinhua | 2022-08-13 08:38
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