The Pacific; a dumpster for Fukushima's wastewater - Bloomberg
China, among other neighboring countries, expresses concern about releasing wastewater into 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 after Chernobyl.
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.
Today, Japan is set to be granted approval to discharge more than a million cubic meters of treated water from the Fukushima nuclear disaster site into the Pacific Ocean, a controversial plan that marred ties with neighboring countries, including China.
The International Atomic Energy Agency’s Director General Rafael Grossi is scheduled to visit Japan on Tuesday to provide a final report on the "safety of the process" and meet with officials, most notably Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi. It is worth noting that a domestic nuclear regulator is also planning to release a crucial assessment.
Both studies are poised to give backing to Tokyo Electric Power Co. to begin releasing the water — equivalent in volume to about 500 Olympic-size swimming pools — into the sea.
'Not Japan’s private sewer'
In response to the mentioned plan, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, last month, the ocean is “not Japan’s private sewer.”
He also cautioned that the proposed release holds risks for the country’s neighbors and Pacific Island nations, calling it a selfish move “that puts the common interests of all humanity in jeopardy.”
Additionally, safety concerns about Japanese cosmetics brands went viral on Chinese social media platforms in light of the developments.
Concurrently, demand for sea salt has skyrocketed in South Korea as people hoard the condiment out of concern that the discharge of wastewater may contaminate the future supply.
While the Seoul administration hasn't openly objected to Japan's intentions, a survey conducted in May by the Yomiuri newspaper and South Korea's Hankook Ilbo revealed that 84% of respondents were against the discharge. The nation’s opposition Democratic Party held a demonstration on Saturday, which it said was attended by an estimated 100,000 people, as per Yonhap News.
The 18-nation Pacific Islands Forum, which includes Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Australia, has encouraged Japan to take other options into consideration and asked for more discussions on the hazards.