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Japan slammed for loosening test standards on Fukushima radioactive water

Tokyo Electric Power Company shows a bottle of radioactive water from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan which has been filtered by ALPS, Feb. 18. The filtering measure is, however, drawing criticism from experts in different countries as its radioactivity-cleansing feature has not been fully verified.


Seoul urged to respond firmly to Tokyo’s move

By Ko Dong-hwan

Korean environmental activists condemned Thursday, the Japanese government’s latest move to discard radioactive water from their own soil which is now stored at the tsunami-hit nuclear power plant in Fukushima.

Filtered and planned for discharge into the Pacific Ocean this year, the water, according to the Japanese government, has been tested for concentration levels of radioactive nuclides that would pollute the maritime environment.

What concerns the activists is that the Japanese government recently reduced the list of radioactive nuclides to measure and verify their safety levels from 64 to 30.

The list has been shortened to more than half because the Japanese government believes some radioactive nuclides have half-lives that are so short that their radioactivity would thin out to a concentration level minuscule enough to be almost unmeasurable and non-influential to the environment.

But the activists said the move is only an additional problem to the Japanese government’s “doubtful” actions in dealing with the water, largely due to the questionable veracity of the data shared by the government with the world.

“Some radioactive nuclides have very short half-lives, like iodine-131 which has only eight days. Cesium-134, which has a half-life of two years, will also be watered down almost flat in a couple of years,” Choi Kyoung-sook, the coordinator from Korea Radiation Watch, a Seoul-based civic environmental activist group, told The Korea Times.

“But the biggest problem with Japan’s discharge plan is that the water’s potential biological effect on maritime species in the ocean hasn’t been fully tested yet. The Japanese government just got started with that experiment earlier this year, putting halibuts and other fish in an aquarium containing 1 becquerel of cesium to see what happens to the creatures.”

Choi said the Japanese government’s explanation advocating the safety of the discharge is only based on its own belief that the water “appears clean enough” after being filtered by the advanced liquid processing system (ALPS) that the Japanese government claims it has used to treat the water before its discharge planned this spring.

Kim Kyoung-ok from the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology explains the result of a simulation carried out by his institute which demonstrates how discharged radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan could affect Korean waters, at Ramada Plaza Jeju Hotel, Feb. 16.

“It’s like they pour one liter of milk into 1,000 tons of water and say, ‘Hey, the water doesn’t look opaque at all,'” Choi said. “ALPS cannot filter out tritium. Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5,000 years. Who can possibly be so sure that radioactive water containing those radioactive particles is safe enough to discharge into the ocean?”

The Korean government has not been as critical of Japan as it should be, Choi said. She said the authority appears to be neglecting to demand sufficient scientific proof from its neighboring country that ensures the safety of the discharge.

“There isn’t any reliable scientific proof whatsoever to what the Japanese government has released to argue the discharge is safe,” Choi said. “Our government should make sure with Japan that there is no harmful biological effect from the discharge and the environmental assessment claimed done by Japan was based on reliable data.”

Choi, alongside other experts concerned with the discharge, proposed the radioactive water be stored for a longer period of time in Japan until it is diluted enough to be safely discharged.

It was found that Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Agency, earlier this year, approved the latest shortlist of radioactive nuclides to be tested, which was proposed by Tokyo Electric Power Company. The list removed 39 types from the original list and added five new ones.

The agency claimed the removed nuclides have half-lives short enough to be dissolved clean into sea waters to the level of not causing any harmful effect on humans and thus do not need to be tested further.

The Japanese authorities have been arguing that their decision-making adhered to the guidelines of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has been supporting the country’s discharge of the water.

The Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology and the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute last week released the results of a simulation of the discharge they had been studying.

The simulation, designed specifically to track tritium after the water is discharged, showed the water, after circling the Pacific for two years and reaching Korean waters, is expected to have only a negligible amount of the nuclide left. The Ministry of Oceans and Fishery, however, said the simulation was only carried out during a preliminary stage of the study and further simulations are required.


February 26, 2023 - Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , ,

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