NYT: Japan releasing treated water from Fukushima nuclear plant
In the face of regional and domestic objections, Japan proceeded this week with a discharge at Fukushima that will eventually reach more than a million tons of water, report Motoko Rich and Hisako Ueno in the New York Times.
In a nutshell:
Japan's government announced its decision to release treated radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the ocean this week. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida revealed the plan after a cabinet meeting. Despite meeting safety standards set by the International Atomic Energy Agency, concerns have emerged about potential undisclosed radioactive materials and impacts on marine life. China and South Korea object to the release, and China has now banned all Japanese seafood. Japan's own fisheries associations worry about future customer reluctance to consume fish from the region. The process, set to span 30 years, aims to alleviate the challenge of dealing with the water used to cool nuclear fuel rods since the 2011 disaster, in which a powerful earthquake triggered a tsunami that damaged the nuclear plant.
“It’s a life-or-death issue for fishermen,” said Masatsugu Shibata, 67, who took his 40-foot fishing trawler out from a port at Iwaki in Fukushima before dawn on a recent morning and caught about a dozen large flounder. “I will be in trouble if they discharge” the water.
The big picture:
The discharge of radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant has been debated for years due to its potential impacts on human health and marine ecosystems. While proponents argue that the released water contains only tritium, a hydrogen isotope with minimal health risks in small doses, skeptics worry about undisclosed radioactive substances like cesium or cobalt that could pose greater hazards. The government's assurances clash with doubts surrounding the treatment process and the possible effects on marine life, leading to debates over the safety of consuming seafood from the region and the long-term consequences of this ocean release. It has also reanimated the debate over the safety of nuclear energy.
Read more at the New York Times.