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Severely damaged fuel at Fukushima No 1 reactor – survey to find this has been halted.

Survey at Fukushima No. 1 reactor container halted, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/01/12/national/tepco-fukushima-survey-halted/   Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. halted its investigation of the inside of the containment vessel of the No. 1 reactor at its stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on Wednesday.

The move came after an issue was found during preparation work for the display of data such as radiation levels from dosimeters inside underwater robots to be used in the survey. The preparations began at noon the same day and were halted around two hours later.

Tepco said that it will resume the survey once measures to resolve the issue are taken.

In the survey, which will continue until around August, Tepco aims to take pictures of melted nuclear fuel debris and other deposits using six types of underwater robots to record their locations and thickness in water that has accumulated at the bottom of the containment vessel.

It will also try to collect deposit samples and take pictures of the inside of the base that supports the reactor pressure vessel. The information obtained in the survey will be used for studies on ways to remove the debris.

The nuclear fuel at the No. 1 reactor’s core is believed to have melted and mostly fallen inside the containment vessel during the triple meltdown disaster at the plant, which was hit by a huge earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

In its survey of March 2017, Tepco failed to find nuclear fuel debris at the No. 1 reactor, leaving the reactor’s detailed situation unknown, in contrast to the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors, where melted fuel debris was successfully photographed.

January 13, 2022 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Growing radioactive waste crisis at Fukushima nuclear power plant

The continuous accumulation of radioactive slurry and other nasty substances, coupled with the problem of finding a safe way to dispose of melted nuclear fuel debris at reactors No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3, has plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. frantically scratching around for ideas.

One problem is that storage containers for the tainted slurry degrade quickly, meaning that they constantly have to be replaced.

TEPCO slow to respond to growing crisis at Fukushima plant, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN,  by Yu Fujinami and Tsuyoshi Kawamura, January 2, 2022Radioactive waste generated from treating highly contaminated water used to cool crippled reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has thrown up yet new nightmarish challenges in decommissioning the facility, a project that is supposed to be completed in 30 years but which looks increasingly doubtful.

The continuous accumulation of radioactive slurry and other nasty substances, coupled with the problem of finding a safe way to dispose of melted nuclear fuel debris at reactors No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3, has plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. frantically scratching around for ideas.

One problem is that storage containers for the tainted slurry degrade quickly, meaning that they constantly have to be replaced. Despite the urgency of the situation, little has been done to resolve the matter.
Fuel debris, a solidified mixture of nuclear fuel and structures inside the reactors melted as a consequence of the triple meltdown triggered by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster has to be constantly cooled with water, which mixes with groundwater and rainwater rainwater that seep into the reactor buildings, producing more new radioactive water.

The contaminated water that accumulates is processed via an Advanced Liquid Processing System to remove most of radioactive materials. The ALPS is housed in a 17-meter-tall building situated close to the center of the plant site.

Reporters from the Japan National Press Club were granted a rare opportunity in late November to visit the crippled facility to observe the process.

The building houses a large grayish drum-like container designed especially to store radioactive slurry. The interior of each vessel is lined with polyethylene, while its double-walled exterior is reinforced with stainless steel.

ALARMING DEVELOPMENTS The use of chemical agents to reduce radioactive substances from the contaminated water in the sedimentation process produces a muddy material resembling shampoo. Strontium readings of the generated slurry sometimes reach tens of millions of becquerels per cubic centimeter.

TEPCO started keeping slurry in special vessels in March 2013. As of November, it had 3,373 of the containers.

Because the integrity of the vessels deteriorates quickly due to exposure to radiation from slurry, TEPCO and the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) predict that durability of the containers will reach the limit after exposure to an accumulated total of 5,000 kilograys of radiation–a level equivalent to 5 million sieverts.
Based on that grim forecast, TEPCO speculated the vessels will need replacement from July 2025.

But the NRA accused TEPCO of underestimating the impact of the radiation problem. It blasted the operator for measuring slurry density 20 centimeters above the base of the container when making its dose evaluation.

“As slurry forms deposits, the density level is always highest at the bottom,” a representative of the nuclear watchdog body pointed out.

The NRA carried out its own assessment in June 2021 and told TEPCO that 31 containers had already reached the end of their operating lives. Its findings also showed an additional 56 would need replacing within two years.The NRA told TEPCO to wake up and “understand how urgent the issue is since transferring slurry will take time.”………………..


With no drastic solutions in sight, a succession of containers will reach the end of their shelf lives shortly.

ANOTHER NIGHTMARE PROBLEM Radioactive slurry is not the only stumbling block for decommissioning.

In the immediate aftermath of the 2011 disaster, TEPCO stored contaminated water in the underground spaces below two buildings near the No. 4 reactor. In doing so, bags full of a mineral known as zeolite were placed in the temporary storage pools to absorb cesium so as to reduce the amount of radioactive substances.

Twenty-six tons of the stuff are still immersed in the dirty water on the floors under the buildings. Radiation readings of 4 sieverts per hour were detected on their surfaces in fiscal 2019, enough to kill half of all the people in the immediate vicinity within an hour.

TEPCO plans to introduce a remotely controlled underwater robot to recover the bags, starting no earlier than from fiscal 2023, However, it has not determined how long this will take or where to store the bags once they are retrieved.
In addition, radioactive rubble, soil and felled trees at the plant site totaled 480,000 cubic meters as of March 2021, leading TEPCO to set up a special incinerator. The total volume is expected to top 790,000 cubic meters in 10 years, but where to dispose of the incinerated waste remains unclear.

TEPCO is in a race against time. That’s the view of Satoshi Yanagihara, a specially appointed professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Fukui who has specialist knowledge on processes to abandon reactors.

“Now, only 30 years remain before the target date of the end of decommissioning set by the government and TEPCO,” said Yanagihara.As decommissioning work is due to shortly enter a crucial stage, such as recovering nuclear fuel debris on a trial basis from as early as 2022, Yanagihara noted the need for careful arrangements before forging ahead with important procedures.

“The government and TEPCO need to grasp an overall picture of the massive task ahead and discuss how to treat, keep and discard collected nuclear debris and the leftover radioactive waste with local residents and other relevant parties,” he said.https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14503708

January 3, 2022 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, wastes | Leave a comment

Japan’s plan for dumping nuclear waste-water into the sea

Japan’s government on Tuesday mapped out a plan for releasing contaminated
water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea, including
compensation standards for local industry and the compilation of a safety
assessment report. Japan said in April it would discharge more than 1
million tonnes of contaminated water in stages after treatment and
dilution, starting around spring 2023. The announcement provoked concerns
from local fishermen and objections from neighbouring China and South
Korea.

 Reuters 28th Dec 2021

https://www.reuters.com/markets/commodities/japan-maps-out-action-plan-disposal-fukushima-water-2021-12-28/

December 30, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

TEPCO files for approval of Fukushima plant water release.

Operator Files For Approval of Fukushima Plant Water Release, Claims Journal, By Mari Yamaguchi December 22, 2021  TOKYO (AP)–The operator of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant said Tuesday it has applied for approval from safety authorities to construct an undersea tunnel and other facilities needed for the planned release of large amounts of treated radioactive water into the sea.

The operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, said it hopes to obtain approval from the Nuclear Regulation Authority to begin constructing the facilities in June and start releasing the water in April 2023.

The approval would cover the basic plan and design of the undersea tunnel, equipment to dilute the water with sea water and other necessary materials.  https://www.claimsjournal.com/news/international/2021/12/22/307711.htm

TEPCO plans to release massive amounts of treated but still radioactive water into the ocean about 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) from the plant to ensure safety and minimize the impact on local fishing and the environment.

The contaminated water is to be diluted with large amounts of seawater to reduce the concentration of radioactive materials below allowable limits.

About 1,000 storage tanks at the plant currently filled with radioactive water need to be removed to make room for facilities necessary for the plant’s decommissioning, TEPCO says.

An official in charge of the water discharge project, Junichi Matsumoto, said TEPCO will construct the undersea tunnel by drilling through bedrock in the seabed.

Under the plan TEPCO submitted to the nuclear authority, the water will be released about 12 meters (40 feet) below the ocean’s surface……….

The government in April approved the decision to start discharging the water into the Pacific Ocean under safety standards set by regulators, calling it the most realistic option. The idea has been fiercely opposed by fishermen, residents and neighboring countries including China and South Korea.   https://www.claimsjournal.com/news/international/2021/12/22/307711.htm

December 24, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Greenpeace says that TEPCO ignored risks to South Korea when assessing radiological impact of releasing Fukushima nuclear water waste.

 The international environmental organization called TEPCO’s radiological
impact assessment “highly selective” in its use of IAEA guidelines. The
international environmental group Greenpeace sent an opinion to the Tokyo
Electric Power Company (TEPCO) on Thursday stating that the company’s
radiological impact assessment of contaminated water from the Fukushima
Nuclear Power Plant made convenient use of International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA) guidelines without considering the potential damages to
residents of neighboring countries such as South Korea.

The opinion from Greenpeace was based on its review of the draft version of a contaminated
water radiological impact assessment report released by TEPCO last month.

 Hankyoreh 18th Dec 2021

http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_international/1023823.html

December 20, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Tepco to repair Fukushima nuclear station’s partially melted protective ice wall.

Ice Wall to Halt Groundwater Flow at Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Plant to Be Repaired   https://thewire.in/world/ice-wall-to-halt-groundwater-flow-at-japans-fukushima-nuclear-plant-to-be-repaired

Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) will launch remedial works at the stricken plant after ice wall tests indicated partial melting.   Tokyo: Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) will launch remedial works at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to strengthen an ice wall intended to halt the flow of groundwater after testing indicated partial melting.

The work could begin as early as the start of December, according to a presentation from the plant operator dated Thursday, part of a costly and troubled effort to secure the site following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The ice wall is intended to limit the seepage of groundwater into the plant, which has created large amounts of toxic water being stored by Tepco in tanks.

Japan plans to release more than 1 million tonnes of water into the sea after treating it. The water contains the radioactive isotope tritium, which cannot be removed.

November 27, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | 1 Comment

Temperature rises over 10 degrees Celsius in some parts of the “frozen earth wall” to reduce contaminated water at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

October 28, 2021

As a countermeasure to reduce the amount of contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, it was found that the temperature of the ground in some parts of the “frozen soil wall”, which freezes the ground around the buildings to prevent the inflow of underground water, has been rising above 0 degrees Celsius since the middle of last month, reaching a maximum of 10 degrees Celsius. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) is investigating the cause of the problem, saying that it does not affect the function of the wall to prevent the inflow of underground water.

The “frozen earth wall” is one of the measures to reduce the amount of contaminated water. Pipes are embedded around the buildings of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, and liquid at 30 degrees below zero is poured into the pipes and frozen, forming an “ice wall” that prevents groundwater from flowing into the buildings.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has installed thermometers in the “frozen earth wall” to measure the underground temperature, and in some areas located on the mountain side of the No. 4 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the temperature, which is usually below freezing, has been rising and has been above zero since the middle of last month.

The temperature in the area where the increase was confirmed was between 1 meter and 4 meters deep, and the temperature exceeded 10 degrees Celsius on some days.

The freezing wall is about 10 meters thick, and TEPCO has stated that there is no significant difference in the water level between the inside and outside of the wall, so there is no impact on its ability to control the inflow of groundwater.

It is possible that water leaked from cracks in the drainage channel that intersects the frozen soil wall and seeped into the frozen area, causing the temperature to rise.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20211028/k10013326291000.html?fbclid=IwAR3MBXXF1TlJxKAfYqkv0A5QS9Oddy0SJV86EvVul_HnWKcFSdaWmOH0Vp 8

October 29, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021, Fukushima continuing | , | Leave a comment

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida confirms release of Fukushima wastewater to start in 2023


Release of Fukushima wastewater to proceed: Kishida, The Guardian, TOKYO, 18 Oct 21,

New Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said that there can be no delay to plans to release contaminated water from the wrecked Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant into the sea, despite opposition from fishers and neighboring countries.

Kishida, who made his first trip to the plant on Sunday since becoming prime minister last month, said every effort would be made to reassure local people that disposing of the water in the Pacific Ocean was safe……

Researchers have used snakes fitted with tracking devices and dosimeters to measure radiation levels in the area around the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant, which suffered triple meltdowns in March 2011……

More than 1 million tonnes of water are being stored in 1,000 tanks at the site, and TEPCO has said that space would run out late next year.

The government and TEPCO in April said that work to release the heavily diluted water would begin in the spring of 2023 and take decades to complete.

The move is opposed by nearby fishing communities, which say it would undo years of hard work rebuilding their industry’s reputation since the plant was struck by a huge tsunami in March 2011, soon after Japan’s northeast coast was rocked by a magnitude 9 earthquake.

The decision ended years of debate over what to do with the water, with other options including evaporation or the construction of more storage tanks at other sites.   More than 1 million tonnes of water are being stored in 1,000 tanks at the site, and TEPCO has said that space would run out late next year.

The government and TEPCO in April said that work to release the heavily diluted water would begin in the spring of 2023 and take decades to complete.

The move is opposed by nearby fishing communities, which say it would undo years of hard work rebuilding their industry’s reputation since the plant was struck by a huge tsunami in March 2011, soon after Japan’s northeast coast was rocked by a magnitude 9 earthquake.

The decision ended years of debate over what to do with the water, with other options including evaporation or the construction of more storage tanks at other sites.More than 1 million tonnes of water are being stored in 1,000 tanks at the site, and TEPCO has said that space would run out late next year.

Japan has requested help from the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure that the discharge meets global safety standards, including treating the wastewater so its radioactivity levels are below legal limits.   https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2021/10/19/2003766372

October 19, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

New radiation scrubber begins cleaning water at Fukushima plant


New radiation scrubber begins cleaning water at Fukushima plant, Japan Times 19 Sep 21
The operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant on Thursday powered up an additional water treatment facility to scrub contamination from the massive quantities of radioactive water stored there.

The new, mobile facility filters radioactive strontium from water used to cool three reactors that partially melted down in March 2011, said operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., and can handle 300 tons of water a day……

The procedure will reduce radioactive strontium in the water to about one-thousandth of its current level, the utility said.

However, removing strontium will not in itself render the water safe. It then needs to be treated by another system at the plant which filters out around 60 kinds of radioactive materials.

But there is an important reason why the strontium takes precedence. Removing that isotope before the others will make the water far less of a hazard in the event of a major leak into the ocean.

Meanwhile, an estimated 400 tons of groundwater continues to seep into the reactor basements every day, forcing the utility to find ways to store it. Tepco already has 400,000 tons of toxic water stored at the site, which will all need to be treated one day. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/03/national/new-radiation-scrubber-begins-cleaning-water-at-fukushima-plant/

September 20, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | 2 Comments

Tepco technicians ignored Fukushima filters leaking radioactive water.

Technicians at Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant have acknowledged neglecting to investigate the cause of faulty exhaust filters key to preventing radioactive pollution, after being forced to replace them twice. Representatives of the Tokyo Electric Power Company made the revelations Monday during a regular review of the Fukushima Daiichi plant at a meeting with Japanese regulatory authorities.

The plant suffered triple meltdowns following a massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011. “At the core of this problem is TEPCO´s attitude,” said a Nuclear RegulationAuthority commissioner, Nobuhiko Ban, at the meeting. TEPCO has been
repeatedly criticized for coverups and delayed disclosures of problems atthe plant. In February, it said two seismometers at one reactor remained broken since last year and failed to collect data during a powerful quake.


Company officials have said that 24 out of 25 filters attached to water treatment equipment had been found damaged last month, after an alarm went off as workers were moving sludge from the unit to a container, temporarilysuspending the water treatment. The operation partially resumed last weekafter filter replacement. The filters are designed to prevent particles from escaping into the air from a contaminated water treatment system – called Advanced Liquid Processing System, or ALPS – that removes selected radioactive isotopes in the water to below legally releasable limits.

 Daily Mail 14th Sept 2021

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-9989577/Fukushima-officials-failed-probe-cause-faulty-filters.html

September 16, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

IAEA Seeks Japan Transparency in Release of Fukushima Water

IAEA Seeks Japan Transparency in Release of Fukushima Water, By Mari Yamaguchi | September 8, 2021  TOKYO (AP) — Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency asked Japan on Tuesday for full and detailed information about a plan to release treated but still radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean.

The three-member team, which is assisting Japan with the planned release, met Tuesday with government officials to discuss technical details before traveling to the Fukushima Daiichi plant for an on-site examination Wednesday. They will meet with Japanese experts through Friday…….. https://www.claimsjournal.com/news/international/2021

September 9, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | 1 Comment

IAEA team in Japan to help prepare Fukushima water release.

IAEA team in Japan to help prepare Fukushima water release

An International Atomic Energy Agency mission has arrived in Japan to help prepare for a decades-long release into the ocean of treated but still radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant
By MARI YAMAGUCHI Associated Press7 September 2021  TOKYO — An International Atomic Energy Agency mission arrived in Japan on Monday to help prepare for a decades-long release into the ocean of treated but still radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, officials said.

The three-member team will meet with officials in Tokyo and travel to the Fukushima Daiichi plant to discuss technical details with experts until Friday, IAEA and Japanese officials said.

The team, headed by Lydie Evrard, head of the IAEA’s Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, is gathering information to prepare a review of the discharge plans.

The Japanese government and the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, announced plans in April to start releasing the water in the spring of 2023 so hundreds of storage tanks at the plant can be removed to make room for other facilities needed for its decommissioning.

The idea has been fiercely opposed by fishermen, residents and Japan’s neighbors, including China and South Korea.

The utility plans to send the water through an undersea tunnel and discharge it from a location about 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) away from the coastal power plant after further treating and diluting it with large amounts of seawater……..  https://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/iaea-team-japan-prepare-fukushima-water-release-79857833

September 7, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

UN urges Japan to investigate damaged Fukushima nuclear reactors for clean-up


UN urges Japan to investigate damaged Fukushima nuclear reactors for clean-up, New York Post, 
By Isabel Vincent 28 Aug 21.
 A team of United Nations experts is urging Japan to investigate nuclear reactors damaged a decade ago by a massive earthquake and tsunami.

Scientists working for the International Atomic Energy Agency reviewing the progress of the Fukushima plant’s clean-up say that Japan has been slow to examine the melted fuel inside the reactors.

And they’re worried that the country will be unable to meet a 2051 target to clean up the mess, according to a report.

“We need to gather more information on the fuel debris and more experience on the retrieval of the fuel debris to know if the plan can be completed as expected in the next 30 years,” said Christophe Xerri, head of IAEA, at a press conference after he and a colleague submitted a report on their recent findings to the Japanese government Friday……….https://nypost.com/2021/08/28/un-urges-japan-to-investigate-damaged-fukushima-nuclear-reactors/

August 30, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

International Atomic Energy Agency doubts the ability of Japan to clean up Fukushima nuclear wreck by intended date 2051

UN team: Unclear if Fukushima cleanup can finish by 2051,   MARI YAMAGUCHI, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT, ASSOCIATED PRESS, August 27, 2021,

TOKYO — Too little is known about melted fuel inside damaged reactors at the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant, even a decade after the disaster, to be able to tell if its decommissioning can be finished by 2051 as planned, a U.N. nuclear agency official said Friday.

“Honestly speaking, I don’t know, and I don’t know if anybody knows,” said Christophe Xerri, head of an International Atomic Energy Agency team reviewing progress in the plant’s cleanup.

“We need to gather more information on the fuel debris and more experience on the retrieval of the fuel debris to know if the plan can be completed as expected in the next 30 years,” he told reporters.

The cleanup plan depends on how the melted fuel needs to be handled for long-term storage and management, he said.

The IAEA team’s review, the fifth since the disaster, was mostly conducted online due to the coronavirus pandemic. Only Xerri and another team member visited the plant this week before compiling and submitting a report to Japan’s government on Friday.

In the report, the team noted progress in a number of areas since its last review in 2018, including the removal of spent fuel from a storage pool at one of the damaged reactors, as well as a decision to start discharging massive amounts of treated but still radioactive water stored at the plant into the ocean in 2023………. https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/un-team-unclear-if-fukushima-cleanup-can-finish-by-2051/?ref=recent

August 28, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Japan’s murky management of Fukushima nuclear wastewater

Japan’s murky management of Fukushima nuclear wastewater https://www.eastasiaforum.org/2021/06/25/japans-murky-management-of-fukushima-nuclear-wastewater/

Author: Cheol Hee Park, SNU

On 13 April 2021, the Japanese government announced plans to dispose of the wastewater stored at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean over a period of 30 years.

The plant has about 1000 wastewater tanks that can hold up to 1.37 million tons of contaminated water. Currently, 1.25 million tons are being stored, which accounts for about 90 per cent of the total storage capacity. The tanks are expected to fill up by the autumn of 2022, which prompted the Japanese government to adopt the least expensive option — disposing the wastewater into the sea, starting from 2023.

The United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) remain sympathetic to the Japanese decision, saying that it meets the international standard. On the other hand, China and South Korea have voiced concerns about the decision. They are distrustful of and dissatisfied with the sudden decision made by the Japanese government. The difference is starkly highlighted in how the wastewater is being referred to by different countries. Japan and the United States call it ‘treated water’ while China and South Korea define it as ‘contaminated water’.

The Japanese government explained that it will fully treat and dilute the wastewater until the contamination level is reduced to at least one-hundredth of its original concentration. Officials say that tritium will be reduced to one-fortieth of the Japanese government’s normal standard. Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso even claimed that the treated water will be drinkable.

he Japanese government also made it clear that before the accident in 2011 the Fukushima nuclear plant disposed of 2.2 trillion becquerels of tritium into the sea each year, which caused no problems. They added that because tritium is a weak radioactive isotope, most of the material will exit the human body, meaning its negative impact will be small.

Despite the Japanese government’s efforts to convince people outside of the country, the most vocal opposition has come from within Japan. The Japan Fishermen’s Association argued that they will not accept the Japanese government’s decision. They explain that the decision went against the government’s promise in 2015 that the release would not happen without their consent. Fishermen from Fukushima and Ibaraki are particularly sensitive about the potential consumer backlash over the radioactive wastewater release, which will directly impact their livelihoods. About 70 per cent of fishermen oppose the government’s decision. It remains unclear whether the Japanese government will be able to persuade them.

Concerns from neighbouring countries are another hurdle to overcome. There is little sign that the Japanese government fully consulted adjacent countries before it announced the decision. Because of the lack of prior consultation and reliable notice, the Japanese government’s decision should be regarded as a unilateral move. South Korea and China should not approach this issue to drag down Japan’s efforts to resolve the problem. At the same time, it is Japan’s responsibility to be attentive to neighbouring countries’ legitimate concerns.

Securing transparency in the process of implementing the plan is another challenge. Despite the Japanese government’s explanation, it remains uncertain whether various nuclides other than tritium can be reliably removed using the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS). Passing on the correct and reliable information to concerned parties in and outside the country is necessary. Japan should incorporate third-party specialists to provide objective and reliable information about the process.

Finally, verifying the safety of the water with international standards would give comfort to and garner trust from concerned parties, including Japanese fishermen. The IAEA could mobilise experts or build a verification team on behalf of Japan and its neighbouring countries so that all concerned regional countries can be persuaded about the safety of the water.

The Japanese government should better fulfil its responsibilities, justify the necessity of its decision, remain transparent about its implementation of the plan and be resilient in verifying the safety of the water it disposes of.

Cheol Hee Park is Professor at the Graduate School of International Studies and Director of the Institute of International Affairs, Seoul National University.

June 26, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment