Fukushima's once radioactive water released into sea cause of outrage
Japan's neighboring countries express concerns about releasing treated waste water to the sea due to the presence of tritium residues.
Twelve years ago, in March, Japan was struck by the most powerful earthquake ever recorded, of magnitude 9.1, which triggered a tsunami that led to the killing of more than 18,000, wiping entire towns off the map. The giant wave surged over defenses and flooded the reactors of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, as more and more radiation leaked from the plant, prompting the total evacuation of the zone. It was considered the second greatest disaster, next to Chernobyl.
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Over a decade later, workers at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, located on the country's east coast, are prepared to release treated wastewater from the nuclear radiation into the sea.
Although TEPCO operator assured that radioactive elements have been filtered from the water, the decision was faced with opposition on local and international levels.
The water is made up of a combination of rainwater and groundwater. TEPCO plans to release the water soon since the site has been filled up to 96% with radionuclide-filtered water as of February.
The site produces 100,000 liters of contaminated water on a daily basis, which is the equivalent of 3,500 cubic feet.
Although almost all of the 62 radioactive elements, such as caesium and strontium, have been removed, tritium remains present, TEPCO experts say.
The plan is to reduce radioactivity levels to 1,500 becquerels per liter, with 60,000 becquerels per liter being the national safety standard.
The water release is expected to begin this spring or summer upon central government approval. This is backed up by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which assumes that the released water "will not cause any harm to the environment."
Local and international concerns
Local fishermen have expressed their concerns regarding the released water, saying customers will be concerned about and reluctant to buy their fish.
Even after assuring that the water is filtered from radioactive material, tritium element is still present in the water, which experts say, is only harmful to humans if ingested in large doses.
Fishermen remind us how they've had to do reputational damage control after the disaster struck. They would have to start from scratch if the water is released.
It's been said that Fukushima fishermen will not rest until the nuclear plant shuts down, despite what experts announced about the water.
Greenpeace activist group, alongside Japan's neighboring countries, such as China and South Korea, have expressed their concerns on the matter.
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Even though the water is scheduled to be released within the timeline of several decades, neighboring countries have shown strong opposition.
TEPCO official says, "We don't plan to release the water all in one go, it will be a maximum of 500 tonnes a day of the total 1.37 million tonnes of ALPS-treated water." As such, the process will take up to 30 to 40 years.
In an attempt to prove that the water is not harmful and that fish can live healthily in the wastewater, TEPCO launched their latest projects of fish kept in ALPS-treated water.
Kazuo Yamanka, who's in charge of the trials, keeps hundreds of flatfish and sea creatures in tanks at the plant. Half of the fish are placed in seawater, while the others are placed in diluted treated wastewater.
Since local residents wanted to see Yamanka prove his theory correct, he is running a YouTube livestream of the fish and plans to expand to more sea creatures.
The project proved that the kept fish do ingest tritium present in the water. However, once transferred to normal sea water, levels of tritium lower quickly.
To this day, it remains unclear if TEPCO's efforts to win over local and international support to dump the treated water into the sea will prove successful.
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