May 18, 2024
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By Arab News

TOKYO – Japan is set to release radioactive treated water from Fukushima’s nuclear plant wreckage into the Pacific Ocean starting Thursday. The plan has been heavily criticized by China, which also imposed a ban on seafood imports.

Japanese fishing organizations said that they were concerned about the potential damage to their reputation if this release was made.

Japan maintains that water released is not harmful. In July, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog also approved the plan saying that it met international standards. The impact on the people and environment would be “negligible.”

Hong Kong, Macau and other Chinese-ruled areas have announced that they are implementing a new ban starting on Thursday. The region will also prohibit the import of Japanese seafood including from Fukushima and Tokyo. China, according to the Foreign Ministry, will take all necessary steps to safeguard marine environments, public health and food safety.

Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry called the action “extremely self-centered.” China is deeply upset by the decision. He has filed a formal complaint.

South Korea’s major opposition party, as well as civic groups across the nation, intensified their protests against Japan’s plans on Wednesday. The government of President Yoon Suk Yeol has been criticized for claiming that it had not found any problems in the technical and scientific aspects.

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive John Lee has called the discharge as “irresponsible”. He said that the city will impose controls on imports of live, frozen and refrigerated seafood as well as dried and salted seaweed and salt.

Masanobu Sakamoto, the head of the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations (NFFCA), said on Monday that although local fishing groups were aware of its scientific safety but still worried about the damage to their reputation.

It is not the same to be told that something is safe scientifically and then feel reassured. He said that proving the release of water is safe from a scientific perspective may not be enough to restore reputational damage.

Japan has announced that it will filter out most of the radioactive substances from water, except tritium. Tritium is a difficult-to-filter hydrogen isotope.

Tepco, the operator of Fukushima’s power plant, said that water would be initially released at a slower rate and under stricter supervision, with a first release totaling 7,800 cubic metres over approximately 17 days.

According to Tepco, the water contains 190 becquerels tritium/liter. This is below World Health Organization’s drinking water limit, which is 10,000 becquerels/liter. The unit for radioactivity is the becquerel.

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