Japan is going to discharge radioactive waste water from the Fukushima nuclear disaster ten years ago. A plan that does not fit well with neighbouring countries China and South Korea. In total, more than 1 million tonnes of polluted water are involved.
The water was used, among other things, to cool the reactors of the nuclear power plant, when it was hit by a severe earthquake and a tsunami in 2011. And still extra water is used for this.
The polluted cooling water, as well as polluted groundwater and rainwater, is currently in huge storage tanks. There are already more than a thousand and it is expected that there will not be enough space in the course of next year to be able to store more tanks. Every day, about 140 cubic meters of radioactive water is added.
With the current amount of polluted water, around 500 swimming pools measuring 50 by 25 meters can be filled. The annual cost of water storage is estimated at around 100 billion yen. That has been converted over EUR 766 million.
Getting rid of the water is a headache file for the Japanese government. For a long time, it was thought about pumping the water into the sea. The government of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has now made a knot.
The water is likely to be discharged at the earliest in two years. The whole process may take decades. The idea is that the polluted water is first filtered and diluted. Japan assures that the discharge of the water is safe. The International Atomic Energy Agency also feels that way.
Michiaki Kai, a radiation expert from the Japanese University in Oita, says to press agency AFP that among scientists there is consensus that “the impact on health is miniscule.” But according to him, “it can not be said that the risk is nil, which causes controversy.”
China and South Korea have already expressed their concerns about the plan. Japanese fishermen also feel nothing about it. They fear that this measure may be bad for their profession. For example, after the nuclear disaster, South Korea stopped imports of fish from the Fukushima area. “We were told that they would not discharge the water into the sea without support from the fishermen,” says Kanji Tachiya on behalf of local fisheries. According to him, that promise was broken by the government.
The Tokyo decision “could directly and indirectly affect the safety of our people and the environment,” says a member of the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs speaks of an “extremely irresponsible” decision. According to a spokesman, China has urged Japan to ‘solve the waste water disposal problem from the Fukushima nuclear power plant in a sensible and responsible way’.
Greenpeace is strongly opposed to the decision. “This decision completely ignores the human rights and interests of the people in Fukushima, the rest of Japan and the Asia-Pacific region,” said the environmental organisation.
Japan was hit by a severe earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011. Approximately 100,000 people fled and nearly 19,000 were killed. The nuclear power station in Fukushima was damaged as a result of natural violence. It was the worst nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl in 1986.