Fukushima, Nuclear Water, Tritium Japan is set to release more than one million tonnes of treated radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean by the end of August, despite opposition from local fishermen and neighbouring countries.
The water comes from the cooling of the damaged reactors and the groundwater that seeps into the plant site. It has been filtered to remove most of the radioactive elements, except for tritium, a hydrogen isotope that is considered harmless in low concentrations. The IAEA says it may present a radiation hazard if inhaled or ingested but is only harmful to humans in very large doses.
Japan argues that releasing the water is the most feasible option, as the storage tanks at the plant are expected to reach their capacity by 2024.
However, the plan has sparked fear and anger among some local residents, especially fishermen who worry that their livelihoods will be affected by the negative perception of their products. They say they have worked hard to restore consumer confidence after the 2011 nuclear disaster, which forced them to suspend their operations for years. They also accuse the government of not consulting them sufficiently before making the decision.
The plan has also drawn criticism from China and South Korea, which claim that Japan has not provided enough information or sought their consent before announcing the release. They say they are concerned about the potential impact on marine life, food safety and public health in the region. They have urged Japan to suspend the plan and explore other alternatives, such as building more storage facilities or disposing of the water on land.
Japan has tried to reassure its neighbours and the international community that the release will be done in a transparent and safe manner, in accordance with international standards. It has also pledged to support the local fishing industry and compensate any losses caused by the release. It has invited foreign diplomats and media to visit the plant site and see the water treatment process for themselves.
The release of the Fukushima water is a controversial and complex issue that involves scientific, environmental, economic and diplomatic factors. It reflects the ongoing challenge of dealing with the aftermath of one of the worst nuclear accidents in history, which has left a lasting scar on Japan and its people.