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Japan wants G-7 backing for plans on Fukushima water, soil

February 22, 2023

The Japanese government is seeking Group of Seven support for its contentious plans on dealing with water and soil contaminated from the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Japan will host the G-7 summit in Hiroshima in May, as well as a series of G-7 meetings of ministers overseeing different policy areas.

One meeting planned for April in Sapporo will bring together G-7 ministers overseeing climate, energy and the environment.

At a working-level meeting in Tokyo on Feb. 1-3, Japanese officials explained their draft of a joint statement called “Building Blocks” that could be issued after the Sapporo meeting.

It said the ministers welcomed “the transparent process toward discharge” of “treated water without any harm to humans and environment” from the grounds of the Fukushima No. 1 plant, as well as the progress made to “recycling of removed soil.”

Both measures have faced stiff opposition in Japan from those directly affected by the plans, such as fishermen who operate off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture.

A government source said, “We could play up the safety of those measures if the G-7 members come together.”

However, some nations may feel uncomfortable about including issues unique to Japan in a joint statement.

Another government source said a consensus had not been reached among the seven nations to include such wording in the statement.

No past G-7 joint statement has ever mentioned the two measures in a positive light.

Water contaminated by the crippled Fukushima reactors has been treated and stored in tanks on the nuclear plant grounds. But groundwater continues to be polluted in the heavily damaged buildings.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said all available tanks would be filled with water between summer and autumn this year.

The utility is using the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) to lower the levels of 62 radioactive substances to government safety standards. But ALPS cannot remove tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, so the plan is to dilute it to under one-40th of the statutory standards before the water is discharged.

The plan to release the water about 1 kilometer off the coast of the Fukushima plant is scheduled to begin as early as spring.

In addition to Fukushima fishermen, China, South Korea, Russia and the Pacific Islands Forum, made up of 15 nations and two regions, have raised concerns about the plan.

The International Atomic Energy Agency is scheduled to release its report about the measure between April and June before the start of the water-discharge plan.

The government plans to reuse decontaminated soil to reduce the volume to be placed in final storage. The soil will be treated to a level below 8,000 becquerels per kilogram, the threshold set by the government.

Plans to reuse the soil in two municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture have stalled because of opposition from local residents.

And people in Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, have also raised objections to the plan to reuse the Fukushima soil in their community.


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

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