Japan Starts Dumping Fukushima Nuclear Wastewater Into The Pacific 

South Korea’s main opposition Democratic Party members hold electric candles and signs reading “Withdraw the dumping of Fukushima contaminated water!” during a rally against Japan’s plan to dump radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear plant, at the National Assembly in Seoul on August 23, 2023. Photo: AFP

Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has begun dumping wastewater from the nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean, having diluted it with sea water.

Japanese specialists started to release into the ocean the first batch of treated water that was used to cool down the crippled reactors of the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant, according to a live broadcast from the station, carried out by the TEPCO.

Japan plans to discharge the water in stages over a 30-year period. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) intends to monitor the process on a continuous basis. In the past few years, IAEA specialists have carried out several inspections at the nuclear facility.

Media reports said:

The work of releasing into the ocean the treated water began in accordance with the initial plan, because nature conditions in the Fukushima prefecture are normal.

Measurements showed that the treated water was properly diluted with seawater and the contents of tritium in it is well below the safety norm approved by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) and the government of Japan.

7,800 Tons Of Water To Be Discharged Over 17 Days

The reports said:

The purified water will be discharged through a seabed tunnel about one km away from the shore. The tunnel allows discharging the water at the rate of 460 tons per day. Each ton of Fukushima water will be diluted with 1,200 tons of pure sea water. According to the plan, a total of 7,800 tons of treated water are to be discharged over the period of 17 days.

In the 2023 fiscal year (ending on March 31, 2024) as many as 31.2 metric tons of wastewater will be released into the ocean.

In March 2011, a tsunami caused damage to power supply and cooling systems at the Fukushima 1 Nuclear Power Plant, which caused a nuclear fuel meltdown in three reactors, accompanied by explosions and the emission of radiation into the atmosphere. Vast territories were contaminated, forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.

Still Contains Tritium

The reactors used water for cooling, and storing this water has become problematic due to its large volume – over 1.25 million tons. In April, 2021, the Japanese government authorized the discharge of a large amount of this water, which is said to be mostly cleared of radioactive substances, but still contains tritium, a radioactive hydrogen isotope.

Media reports said:

TEPCO has collected more than 1 million tonnes of wastewater more than a decade after a massive tsunami triggered a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in March 2011.

TEPCO underscored that the tritium content in the water is being brought to one fortieth of the minimum allowable standard set by the ICRP and the government of Japan, and one seventh of the level allowed by the World Health Organization for drinking water.

Russia and China Criticize

The reports said:

Tokyo’s plans have drawn sharp criticism from a number of countries, mainly Russia and China.

“We do not want August 24, 2023 to become a catastrophic day for the marine environment,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Wednesday.

Citing a Chinese proverb “spilt water cannot be gathered up again,” Wang warned the Japanese government at the routine press conference that “we do not want a catastrophic day for the marine environment. If Japan persists [in dumping the contaminated water], it must bear the historical responsibility.”

Wang slammed Japan’s push to dump nuclear-contaminated water into the sea as an undoubted gamble with the global marine environment and the health of all humanity.

He said if the Japanese side is truly sincere in addressing the concerns of its neighbors, it should immediately stop the arbitrary dumping plan, carry out exchanges without presupposing the outcome, and fully discuss all possible safe disposal plans.

Salt Prices Soar In South Korea

South Korean media reports said:

Anxiety has increased in South Korea with the country’s salt prices soaring. Local residents are stocking up on salt across the country.

Act Of Terror

A Yonhap News Agency report said:

Lee Jae-myung, chair of the main South Korea opposition Democratic Party, called on Wednesday Japan’s upcoming dumping process an “act of terror.”

Lee accused Japan of trying to bring an irrevocable catastrophe to South Korea and Pacific nations after having threatened its neighboring nations with an imperialist war in the past. “Japan’s dumping of nuclear-contaminated water will be recorded as the ‘Second Pacific War,'” Lee said.

South Korean Fishermen

Media reports from South Korea said:

The Korea Federation of Environmental Movement told that South Korean fishermen have similar feelings as their Japanese fellow fishermen who believe that the dumping process will not only affect their livelihoods but also make them lose the means of their lives because their fishing activities will be disrupted. The organization revealed that the seafood business and marine tourism industry will be impacted negatively.

Nuke-contaminated Water To Reach China In 240 Days

Topics related to Japan’s dumping decision are the top trends on Chinese social media platforms, with one saying “Research shows Japanese nuke-contaminated water to reach China in 240 days” having received millions of views as of press time.

The research, conducted by a team from Tsinghua Shenzhen International Graduate School, was published in November 2021 in the journal National Science Review.

The team created a diffusion model of radioactive materials on the ocean scale from macroscopic and microscopic perspectives respectively to simulate the long-term effects of the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated wastewater dumping program, according to which the nuclear pollutants will reach the coastal waters of China 240 days after being initially dumped, and will reach the coast of North America and cover almost the whole North Pacific Ocean in 1,200 days.

The scientific model quickly sparked netizens’ concerns over the biosafety of the marine environment and the whole world.

Japanese Embassy In Beijing

The Japanese Embassy in China apparently wants to defuse public anger by publishing a post on Chinese social media citing claims of the July report by the IAEA that the dumping “will have a negligible radiological impact on people and the environment.”

But the embassy faces a huge backlash by using the IAEA report as a shield, as the IAEA report has lost its credibility. The Japanese embassy muted comments under the post. But the retweets, which cannot be deleted, featured condemnations from netizens with some questioning “Do you really believe it [the IAEA report]? Or are you deceiving yourself?”

Hong Kong and Macao

China’s Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions (SARs) vowed to strengthen monitoring of potential radioactive substances in food imported from Japan to ensure food safety and residents’ health, and the two SARs will release radiation test data in a daily manner.


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