Japan's NRA approves releasing radioactive wastewater into ocean amid opposition

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, July 23, 2022
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Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) on Friday authorized a controversial plan to release radioactive wastewater from a crippled nuclear plant in Japan's northeast into the Pacific Ocean as the public took to the streets in opposition.

The NRA held an extraordinary meeting Friday and gave the final approval to the contentious plan submitted by the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO), in line with a government decision.

The government and TEPCO are planning to start releasing toxic water from the disaster-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant next spring from around 1 kilometer off the Pacific coast in Fukushima Prefecture.

Under the plan, the wastewater, which contains radioactive tritium as a result of being used to cool down melted nuclear fuel at the disaster-stricken plant, will be discharged through an underwater tunnel into the Pacific Ocean after being treated.

The plant had its key cooling functions knocked out after being battered by a massive earthquake-triggered tsunami just over a decade ago, resulting in the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986.

The tainted wastewater being stored in tanks at the plant is expected to reach capacity next year and the lengthy process of dumping the radioactive wastewater into the ocean is projected to take several decades.

TEPCO has signed an agreement with Fukushima Prefecture and the plant hosting towns of Okuma and Futaba to construct the dumping facilities.

After the NRA approved TEPCO's draft plan in May, only 1,200 responses from the public have been gathered, many of which suggested the NRA "should clearly explain the plan's safety to the public," and consider alternative options to polluting the ocean such as "making storage tanks bigger and expanding the land space."

The officials discussed the public's opinions and concluded that what TEPCO has done so far with the radioactive wastewater and its plan are "reasonable", Japan's public broadcaster NHK reported.

Japan's fisheries industry, however, has maintained its ardent opposition to the plan, as it will almost certainly cause further damage to the industry's reputation in the region.

In addition, a number of countries and regions continue to impose restrictions on Japanese agricultural and fishery products as a result of the initial Fukushima crisis amid continued concerns about the safety of the produce.

Regular citizens also showed their staunch opposition to the contentious plan on Friday by protesting on the streets in Tokyo despite the scorching heat to voice their indignation.

Some protestors used megaphones to express their discontent, while others held banners warning about radioactivity at the plant.

Meanwhile, some of Japan's neighbors have voiced their sincere concerns and objections about radioactive wastewater being discharged into the Pacific Ocean. 

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