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As Japan builds nuclear dumping facilities, Pacific groups say ‘stop’

September 1, 2022

Pacific civil society groups are calling on Japan to halt its plans to dump radioactive nuclear wastewater into the Pacific Ocean.

Earlier this month the Japanese government started building facilities needed for the discharge of treated, but still radioactive, wastewater from the defunct Fukushima nuclear power plant.

In a joint statement, civil society groups, non-governmental organisations and activists described the Fumio Kishida Government’s plans as a fundamental breach of Pacific peoples’ right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

Joey Tau from the pan-Pacific movement Youngsolwara Pacific said this breaches Pacific peoples’ rights to live in a clean environment.

Tau told Pacific Waves the Pacific Ocean is already endangered and Japan’s plan will have devastating impacts.

“We have a nuclear testing legacy in the Pacific. That continues to impact our people, our islands and our way of life, and it impacts the health of our people.

“Having this plan by Japan poses greater risks to the ocean which is already in a declining state.

“The health of our ocean has declined due to human endured stresses and having this could aggravate the current state of our region.

“And also, there are possible threats on the lives of our people as we clearly understand in this part of the world, the ocean is dear to us, it sustains us,” Tau said.

Tau said both the opposition in Vanuatu and the president of the Federated States of Micronesia have expressed serious concerns at Japan’s plans, and the Pacific Islands Secretariat this year has appointed an international expert panel to advise the Forum Secretary-General and national leaders.

The Northern Marianas’ House of Representatives has also condemned Japan’s plan to dump the nuclear waste.

Tau said the plans should not proceed without the Pacific people being able to voice their concerns and being better advised.

https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/473906/as-japan-builds-nuclear-dumping-facilities-pacific-groups-say-stop

September 4, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

More data needed before ocean release of Fukushima water

The full extent of the nuclear isotopes in the damaged plant’s tanks requires more study

There is insufficient information to assess the potential impact that releasing into the ocean contaminated water stored at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant will have on the environment and human health.

by Ken Buesseler, Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress, Antony M. Hooker, Arjun Makhijani and Robert H. Richmond

August 26, 2022

The Nuclear Regulatory Authority last month announced its approval for the discharge of more than 1 million tons of contaminated water from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant directly into the ocean.

Japan’s nuclear regulator has stated that this can be done safely and the International Atomic Energy Agency has supported this position. We would argue that there is insufficient information to assess potential impacts on environmental and human health and issuing a permit at this time would be premature at best.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the plant’s operator, is taking this step as part of the decommissioning and cleanup process of the plant. Every day, more than 150 tons of water accumulates at the site due to groundwater leakage into buildings and the systems used to cool the damaged reactors. The water is currently stored in more than 1,000 tanks at the site and what to do with their ever-increasing number has been a topic of concern for many years.

The justification for ocean discharge focuses largely on the assumed levels of radioactivity from tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen that cannot be easily removed by an advanced liquid processing system, which is used for treating the contaminated water. To reduce tritium to levels that will be 1/40th of the regulatory standards, dilution of the tank water with seawater has been proposed prior to release. However, tritium is only part of the story, and a full assessment of all of the water contaminants stored in tanks at the site has yet to be made and verified by independent parties.

Our specific concerns include the adequacy, accuracy and reliability of the available data. A key measure of safety is a risk factor that combines the activities of more than 60 radioactive contaminants — the so-called sum of ratios approach. However, only a small subset of these radioactive contaminants — seven to 10 of them, including tritium — have been regularly measured. The assumption is that this subset alone will reflect the possible risks and the other contaminants are at constant levels. We disagree with this approach, as the data show wide variability in the contaminant concentrations between tanks, as well as differences in their relative amounts.

For example, some tanks low in tritium are high in strontium-90 and vice versa. Thus, the assumption that concentrations of the other radionuclides are constant is not correct and a full assessment of all 62 radioisotopes is needed to evaluate the true risk factors.

Moreover, only roughly a quarter of the more than 1,000 tanks at the site have been analyzed. This combined with the large variability among tanks, means that final dilution rates for tritium and the cleanup necessary for all contaminants are not well known. By Tepco’s own estimates, almost 70% of the tanks will need additional cleanup but that estimate is uncertain until all of the tanks are assessed.

The bottom line is that it is impossible to engineer and assess the impact of any release plan without first knowing what is in the tanks. The actual cost and duration of the project, as well as the amount of dilution needed, all depend upon the accuracy and thoroughness of the data. For example, the amount of seawater needed, and hence the time to release, will depend directly upon dilution factors.

Tepco stated in its radiological impact assessment that to meet its requirements, dilution will be needed by a factor “greater than 100.” In fact, the dilution rate we calculate is 250 on average and more than 1,000 times for many of the tanks where analyses are available. Scaling to those higher averages and extremes would increase capacity needs, costs and overall duration of the releases. In addition, comparisons against other possible disposal options — such as vapor release, using enhanced tritium removal technologies, geological burial or the storage option we suggest below — cannot be made without a better assessment of the current tank contents.

Even for tritium, its high levels are not adequately addressed, as it is assumed to be present only in inorganic form as tritiated water. However, there are also organically bound forms of tritium (OBT) that undergo a higher degree of binding to organic material. OBT has been found in the environment at other nuclear sites and is known to be more likely stored in marine sediments or bioaccumulated in marine biota. As such, predictions of the fate of tritium in the ocean need to include OBT as well as the more predictable inorganic form in tritiated water. Tepco has yet to do this.

The focus on tritium also neglects the fact that the nontritium radionuclides are generally of greater health concern as evidenced by their much higher dose coefficient — a measure of the dose, or potential human health impacts associated with a given radioactive element, relative to its measured concentration, or radioactivity level. These more dangerous radioactive contaminants have higher affinities for local accumulation after release in seafloor sediments and marine biota. The old (and incorrect) belief that the “solution to pollution is dilution” fails when identifying exposure pathways that include these other bioaccumulation pathways.

Although statements have been made that all radioactivity levels will meet regulatory requirements and be consistent with accepted practices, the responsible parties have not yet adequately demonstrated that they can bring levels below regulatory thresholds. Rebuilding trust would take cleanup of all of the tanks and then independently verifying that nontritium contaminants have been adequately removed, something the operator has not been able to do over the past 11 years. Post-discharge monitoring will not prevent problems from occurring, but simply identify them when they do occur.

As announced, the release of contaminated material from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant would take at least 40 years, and decades longer if you include the anticipated accumulation of new water during the process. This would impact not only the interests and reputation of the Japanese fishing community, among others, but also the people and countries of the entire Pacific region. This needs to be considered as a transboundary and transgenerational issue.

Our oceans provide about half of the oxygen we breathe and store almost one-third of the carbon dioxide we emit. They provide food, jobs, energy, global connectivity, cultural connections, exquisite beauty and biodiversity. Thus, any plan for the deliberate release of potentially harmful materials needs to be carefully evaluated and weighed against these important ocean values. This is especially true when contaminated material is being released that would be widely distributed and accumulated by marine organisms.

The Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster is not the first such incident, nor will it be the last. The challenge presented by this present situation is also an opportunity to improve responses and chart a better way forward than to dump the problem into the sea. Moreover, even accepted practices and guidelines require much more thorough preoperational analysis and preparation than is in evidence so far.

We conclude that the present plan does not provide the assurance of safety needed for people’s health or for sound stewardship of the ocean. We have reached this conclusion as members of an expert panel engaged by the Pacific Island Forum, a regional organization comprising 18 countries. However, we have penned this commentary in our individual capacities and our views may or may not be shared by the forum secretariat or its members.

The recent decision to support the release by the Nuclear Regulation Authority is surprising and concerning. In addition, the International Atomic Energy Agency should withhold its support for the release without these issues being resolved. Once the discharge commences, the opportunity to examine total costs and weigh the ocean discharge option against other alternatives will have been lost.

It has been stated that there is an urgency to release this contaminated water because the plant operator is running out of space on site. We disagree on this point as well, as once the tanks are cleaned up as promised, storage in earthquake-safe tanks within and around the Fukushima facility is an attractive alternative. Given tritium’s 12.3-year half-life for radioactive decay, in 40 to 60 years, more than 90% of the tritium will have disappeared and risks significantly reduced.

This is the moment for scientific rigor. An absence of evidence of harm is not evidence that harm will not occur, it simply demonstrates critical gaps in essential knowledge. Having studied the scientific and ecological aspects of the matter, we have concluded that the decision to release the contaminated water should be indefinitely postponed and other options for the tank water revisited until we have more complete data to evaluate the economic, environmental and human health costs of ocean release.

Ken Buesseler is a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and director of the Center for Marine and Environmental Radioactivity. Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress is scientist-in-residence at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Antony M. Hooker is director of the Center for Radiation Research, Education and Innovation at the University of Adelaide. Arjun Makhijani is president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. Robert H. Richmond is director of the Kewalo Marine Laboratory at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2022/08/26/commentary/japan-commentary/radioactive-water-release/

August 28, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

S. Korean researchers find ways to decontaminate radioactive water from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant

August 23, 2022

Plans by Japan to release wastewater from the devastated Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean are fueling renewed interest in efforts to effectively eliminate radioactive elements.
Well researchers here appear to be have made some remarkable advances to that end.
Shin Ye-eun has details.

“In a few months, we may see coasts like where I’m at right now contaminated with nuclear waste.
That’s because Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has given the green light to release radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant starting next spring.
Though the Japanese government said it would dilute the water so tritium levels fall below what’s considered dangerous, neighboring countries like South Korea and China have expressed concerns.
That’s why a group of researchers here in the country has decided to take action.
They’ve found a way to get rid of harmful, radioactive elements like iodine from the sea.
Let’s go find out how.”

The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute took the initiative in 2019.
In just three years, they have accomplished what other researchers around the world couldn’t.
They found a way to selectively remove radioactive iodine from water.

What did the trick was coating magnetic iron nanoparticles with platinum.
Because platinum sticks well to iodine, it can suck the radioactive particles out.
Being able to selectively remove radioactive elements is set to be a game changer.

“We’ve now found a way to easily and efficiently save the earth. Unlike other adsorbents out there, ours can be used up to 1-hundred times. Because we’re able to selectively get rid of radioactive iodine, the cleaned-up water can still be of use.”

The latest development can also be used at hospitals, to clean up radioactive waste from anticancer drugs.
It can also selectively extract natural iodine, which is used to make medicine.
The team leader said more developments are on the way.

“Right now, we’re only able to decontaminate 20 liters of water at once. We hope we can expand the maximum capacity before this development gets commercialized. We’re also working on extracting other radioactive elements like caesium.”

“Once this technology is commercialized, South Korea will be one of the first countries in the world to suck out millions of tons worth of iodine from the sea.

http://www.arirang.com/News/News_View.asp?sys_lang=Eng&nseq=306120

August 28, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Respite for Japan as radioactive water accumulation slows in Fukushima

Isn’t it a strange coincidence that at the time Tepco is forcing down our throat its plan to dump its “tainted” water into our sea it is now announcing that it has managed to reduce its “tainted” water accumulation, they really think that we are that stupid to not see through their lies, that after 12 years of repeated lies!!!

This photo taken from a Kyodo News helicopter in February 2022 shows tanks used to store treated water on the premises of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture.

August 20, 2022

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Tanks containing treated water at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant are likely to reach capacity around the fall of 2023, later than the initially predicted spring of next year, as the pace of the accumulation of radioactive water slowed in fiscal 2021.

The slowdown, based on an estimate by operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., gives some breathing space to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government if any roadblocks are thrown up in the plan to discharge the treated water into the sea starting around spring next year.

China and South Korea as well as local fishing communities that fear reputational damage to their products remain concerned and have expressed opposition to the plan.

About 1.30 million tons of treated water has accumulated at the Fukushima Daiichi plant following the 2011 nuclear disaster, and it is inching closer to the capacity of 1.37 million tons.

The water became contaminated after being pumped in to cool melted reactor fuel at the plant and has been accumulating at the complex, also mixing with rainwater and groundwater.

According to the plan, the water — treated through an advanced liquid processing system, or ALPS, that removes radionuclides except for tritium — will be released 1-kilometer off the Pacific coast of the plant through an underwater pipe.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has been conducting safety reviews of the discharge plan and Director General Rafael Grossi says the U.N. nuclear watchdog will support Japan before, during and after the release of the water, based on science.

An IAEA task force, established last year, is made up of independent and highly regarded experts with diverse technical backgrounds from various countries including China and South Korea.

Japan’s new industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura says the government and TEPCO will go ahead with the discharge plan around the spring of 2023 and stresses the two parties will strengthen communication with local residents and fishermen, as well as neighboring countries, to win their understanding.

Beijing and Seoul are among the 12 countries and regions that still have restrictions on food imports from Japan imposed in the wake of the massive earthquake and tsunami triggered nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima plant in March 2011.

“We will improve our communication methods so we can convey information backed by scientific evidence to people both at home and abroad more effectively,” Nishimura said after taking up the current post in a Cabinet reshuffle Wednesday.

Kishida instructed Nishimura to focus on the planned discharge of ALPS-treated water that will be diluted with seawater to one-40th of the maximum concentration of tritium permitted under Japanese regulations, according to the chief of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

The level is lower than the World Health Organization’s recommended maximum tritium limit for drinking water.

TEPCO will cap the total amount of tritium to be released into the sea as well.

Meanwhile, the Kishida government has decided to set up a 30 billion yen ($227 million) fund to support the fisheries industry and said it will buy seafood if demand dries up due to harmful rumors.

Fishing along the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, known for high-quality seafood, has been recovering from the reputational damage caused by the nuclear accident but the catch volume in 2021 was only about 5,000 tons, or about 20 percent of 2010 levels.

Construction of discharge facilities at the Fukushima plant started in August, while work to slow the infiltration of rain and groundwater was also conducted.

TEPCO said it was able to reduce the pace of accumulation of contaminated water by fixing the roof of a reactor building and cementing soil slopes around the facilities, among other measures, to prevent rainwater penetration.

The volume of radioactive water decreased some 20 tons a day from a year earlier to about 130 tons per day in fiscal 2021, according to the ministry.

The projected timeline to reach the tank capacity has been calculated based on the assumption that about 140 tons of contaminated water will be generated per day, according to METI.

However, storage tanks could still reach their capacity around the summer of next year if heavy precipitation or some unexpected events occur, the ministry said.

As part of preparations for the planned discharge, the Environment Ministry has started measuring tritium concentration at 30 locations on the surface of the sea and seabed around the Fukushima plant, four times a year.

Similarly, the Nuclear Regulation Authority has increased the number of locations it monitors tritium levels by eight to 20. The Fisheries Agency has started measuring tritium concentration in marine products caught along the Pacific coast stretching from Hokkaido to Chiba Prefecture.

Given that it is expected to take several decades to complete the release of treated water, NRA and METI officials urged TEPCO to further curb the generation of contaminated water at the plant.

“We want TEPCO to step up efforts so as to lower the volume of the daily generation of contaminated water to about 100 tons or lower by the end of 2025,” a METI official said.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20220819/p2g/00m/0na/039000c

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s industry minister visits crippled Fukushima plant amid controversial plan to dump radioactive wastewater into sea

August 18, 2022

TOKYO, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) — Japan’s industry minister visited the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant Thursday to see the extent of the damage caused by the March 2011 tsunami-triggered nuclear disaster, and assess the complications still facing the plant and its decommissioning efforts.

During his visit, Yasutoshi Nishimura, who received his new ministerial portfolio in a cabinet reshuffle last week, was also scheduled to hold talks with officials from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO), the operator of the plant, and meet with local government officials.

His visit was made amid a myriad of challenges facing the plant including from a controversial plan for radioactive wastewater to be discharged into the Pacific Ocean.

The mayors of two towns hosting the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have urged the central government to take steps to protect the reputation of the region’s marine products under the plan to dump radioactive water from the plant into the sea.

Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori believes the contentious plan has not earned enough understanding from the Japanese people and residents of the prefecture, as there are still various opinions including concerns over renewed reputational damage.

Okuma Mayor Jun Yoshida, meanwhile, has voiced concerns that the already maligned region will once again have its reputation damaged, and also urged the central government to take steps to prevent damage to the northeast region’s reputation.

Under the plan, the water, which contains hard-to-remove radioactive tritium as a result of being used to cool down melted nuclear fuel at the stricken plant, will be discharged through an underwater tunnel one kilometer off the Pacific coast into the ocean after being treated.

The plant had its key cooling functions knocked out after being battered by a massive earthquake-triggered tsunami over a decade ago, resulting in the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986.

The tainted water being stored in tanks at the plant is expected to reach capacity next year and the lengthy process of then dumping the radioactive water into the ocean is projected by TEPCO to take several decades, beginning next spring.

Japan’s fisheries industry, for instance, has maintained its ardent opposition to the plan, as it will almost certainly cause further damage to the industry’s reputation in the region.

A number of countries and regions continue to impose restrictions on Japanese agricultural and fishery products as a result of the initial Fukushima crisis amid continued concerns about the safety of the produce.

Japan’s controversial plan to dump radioactive wastewater into the Pacific ocean has raised concerns from the international community, including from Japan’s neighbors, over its impacts on the global marine environment and the public health of Pacific-rim countries. The Japanese side has been asked to earnestly fulfill its due international obligations, dispose of the nuclear-contaminated water in a science-based, open, transparent and safe manner, and stop pushing through the plan to discharge the water into ocean.

https://english.news.cn/20220818/c1a7c11078c6427ebdd74f3bceec40c7/c.html

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s industry minister inspects crippled Fukushima nuclear plant

Another euphemism, “concerns”, not concerns just plain opposition. Damn hypocrites!

Japanese industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura (L) inspects the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture on Aug. 18, 2022.

Aug 18, 2022 Japan’s industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura inspected the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant Thursday, his first visit since assuming the position last week, to assess the progress of decommissioning and the ongoing challenges stemming from the March 2011 nuclear disaster. Nishimura met with officials of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., operator of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, and chiefs of local governments and the prefectural assembly, as his ministry faces multiple challenges such as a plan to discharge treated water containing trace amounts of tritium into the sea.

“I will give my best in gaining understanding on safety (of the discharge plan) and preventing reputational damage” to local businesses, Nishimura said at a meeting with Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori, which was partly open to the press.

Nishimura was named as chief of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in the Aug. 10 Cabinet reshuffle.

Earlier in the month, local government chiefs from the prefecture called on the central government to take measures to prevent reputational damage to local businesses selling marine products, a key concern among the fisheries industry which opposes the discharge expected to begin next spring.

The request was made by the mayors of Okuma and Futaba, the two towns hosting the Fukushima plant, and the Fukushima governor during a meeting in Tokyo with Nishimura’s predecessor Koichi Hagiuda, now chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Policy Research Council.

The local government heads have also urged the central government to create an environment where marine products are traded at fair prices so that residents, particularly young people, can operate competitive businesses.

According to the discharge plan, the water — treated through a processing system that removes radionuclides except for tritium — will be released 1-kilometer off the Pacific coast of the plant through an underwater pipe.

While construction of discharge facilities is under way following approval of the plan by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, neighboring China continues to oppose the release of the treated water.

South Korea has also expressed concerns over the plan.

https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2022/08/fc4793599f8f-japans-industry-minister-inspects-crippled-fukushima-nuclear-plant.html

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s plan for radioactive water defies international law

August 21, 2022

By Duncan E. J. Currie and Shaun Burnie

Millions of tons of highly contaminated water from Fukushima Daiichi being discharged into the Pacific Ocean not only poses a threat to humans and the environment, but also raises questions on how the decision by the Japanese government relates to international law.

What we conclude is that the decision by the Japanese government to treat and then release radioactive water at Fukushima into the ocean would pose a direct threat to the marine environment, including that of the jurisdictional waters of the Korean peninsula. As such, Japan would be in breach of its obligations as defined under international environmental law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Consequently, the Korean government has the legal right to oppose the discharging of radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The discharge of radioactive materials into the marine environment from the nuclear plant will inevitably increase marine species’ exposure to radioactivity, with the exact level of exposure depending on multiple variables. The concentrations in biota are of direct relevance to those who may consume them, including marine species, and ultimately, humans.

The one million tons of highly contaminated water stored in nearly 1000 tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant currently contain concentrations of radioactive tritium much higher than is permitted by Japanese regulation for discharge into the ocean. One principle concern is that the high relative biological effectiveness (RBE) of tritium’s beta radiation, its ability to bind with cell constituents to form organically-bound tritium (OBT) and its short-range beta particle, mean that it can damage DNA.

The water also contains other radionuclides in addition to tritium, including the very hazardous Strontium-90. Strontium-90 poses a major health risk as it is absorbed by the body in a similar manner to calcium, where it increases the risk of developing leukemia.

A further major problem is that the processing technology used at Fukushima Daiichi ― specifically the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) ― failed to operate effectively, and therefore around 800,000 tons of the water contains even higher amounts of radioactive material, including Sr-90. There are an estimated 30,000 Megabecquerels of Strontium90 in the storage tanks.

To give some perspective on this amount of strontium-90 ― it is what an average Pressurized Water Reactor would discharge in its liquid waste if it were to operate for 120,000 years. This is more than half the number of years humans have inhabited the earth. Even more threatening is that these discharges are only a small fraction of the radioactive inventory of what remains at the destroyed nuclear site. Most Strontium-90 still remains in the molten cores at the site ― an amount 17.3 million times more than would be released under the Japanese government’s plans for the contaminated water. And there are many other radionuclides present in the contaminated water with even longer half-lives ― the time is takes for one-half of the radioactive material to decay ― including iodine-129, which has a half-life of 13 million years.

For South Korea, the impacts of this radiation exposure are of great importance to its fishing communities, the wider population and the government. The toxic cocktail of radionuclides from Fukushima Daiichi will rapidly disperse through the strong coastal currents along Japan’s Pacific coast, and enter the East Sea via the East China Sea, including the waters of the Korean peninsula. We know this as a result of sea water sampling following the March 2011 nuclear disaster.

In addition to the requirements under the U.N. International Maritime Organization (IMO), Japan is required to comply with international law that prohibits significant trans-boundary environmental harm, both to the territory of other States and to areas beyond national jurisdiction. Before any discharge into the Pacific Ocean, Japan is required to conduct an Environment Impact Assessment under Article 206 of UNCLOS. International radio-protection principles require that a decision to increase radioactivity in the environment must be justified, and if there is a viable alternative ― in this case long-term storage ― it cannot be justified.

There never was a rationale for further, deliberate radioactive pollution of the marine environment from Fukushima Daiichi. In the interests of protection of that environment as well as public safety, and to ensure compliance with its international legal obligations, the only acceptable way forward for the Japanese government is to terminate its discharge plans. There is a clear alternative to discharging over one million tons of highly contaminated water into the environment, which is to securely store the water in robust tanks for the long term (hundreds of years). In parallel, the best available technology should be applied for further processing to remove all radionuclides.

Authors
Duncan Currie is a practicing international and environmental lawyer. He has practiced international law and environmental law for nearly thirty years, and over that time has advised NGOs, corporations and governments on a wide range of environmental issues including the law of the sea, nuclear and waste issues.

Shaun Burnie is a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, with much of his time based in Japan. He has worked on nuclear issues in Asia, the former Soviet Union, Europe, North and South America and the Middle East for 35 years. He worked against the operation of the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi reactors since 1997.

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , | Leave a comment

EDITORIAL: TEPCO must be candid on plan to discharge “tainted” water into ocean

Tainted, what an euphemism!

Storage tanks at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant hold tons of radiation-contaminated water.

August 17, 2022

Radiation-contaminated water is still being produced in the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co.

Progress is being made on the government’s plan to release treated water into the ocean, and local governments have approved the construction of pertinent facilities.

However, local opposition to the project remains fierce, particularly from the fisheries industry.

The central government and TEPCO must spare no effort to thoroughly explain the project to the parties concerned, as well as to the rest of the nation and the world.

At the crippled plant, groundwater is continuing to mix into cooling water for melted nuclear fuel, raising the volume of radiation-contaminated water by about 130 tons a day.

The contaminated water is treated to remove most of its radioactive content and is kept in storage tanks.

But with the existing tanks now nearly full, the government decided in spring last year to dilute the stored water with seawater and discharge it into the sea, fearing that building more storage tanks could affect post-disaster recovery work.

TEPCO is currently proceeding with preparations for the offshore discharge about 1 kilometer from the plant.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority approved the plan last month, saying it saw no safety issues.

NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa told a news conference, “While I recognize opposition to the plan, the offshore discharge (of treated water) cannot be avoided if we are to proceed with the decommissioning of reactors.”

Residual tritium in the treated water is released into the sea by active nuclear power stations in and outside Japan.

The government’s plan is to dilute the tritium content to less than one-40th of the national standard, and keep the annual release volume below the pre-accident level.

The International Atomic Energy Agency noted in its report in April to the effect that the radiological impact on the public was expected to be very low and significantly below the level set by the Japanese regulatory body.  

The Fukushima prefectural government and the municipal governments of Okuma and Futaba–which co-host the Fukushima No. 1 plant–approved the construction of discharge facilities in early August.

Two days later, TEPCO advanced the project to the phase of actual construction of an undersea tunnel through which the treated water will be released into the ocean.

But the local fisheries industry and other opponents of the project are not yielding an inch. They claim that even though the radiation level is below the required safety standard, anything that is being discharged from the crippled plant cannot be considered completely safe and can cause damage due to rumors or misinformation.

In fact, when the NRA solicited opinions from the public, all sorts of questions and negative comments were sent in.

In 2015, the government and TEPCO promised the fishing industry that “no treated water will ever be discharged without the understanding of the parties concerned.” This is the kind of promise they must not be allowed to renege on.

TEPCO says that it fully understands the “importance of explaining everything thoroughly” and will provide information on its official website. Of course, the company must be completely open and be willing to answer questions.

But its trustworthiness is suspect, as the utility proceeded with its tunnel construction project as soon as it was approved by the local governments.

If TEPCO genuinely wants the understanding of the parties concerned, it must listen directly to people’s questions and opposing views and strive to keep up the conversation. 

As if causing an unprecedented nuclear disaster at Fukushima wasn’t bad enough, the damage compensations that TEPCO made to victims were hardly generous, and the company even kept up wrongful practices at its other nuclear power stations.

Unless TEPCO makes every imaginable effort, we doubt it will ever be able to build a relationship of trust with local communities.

It is time for the utility’s president and top executives to consider holding candid, face-to-face meetings with fisheries industry representatives and local residents.

https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14696482

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan Govt./TEPCO Say Solution to Pollution is Dilution, as Plan to Dump Fukushima Wastewater to Pacific Moves Ahead

August 15, 2022

Fukushima Prefecture, Japan — Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has formally endorsed a controversial plan by TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) — the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant — to start dumping more than a million tons of radioactive wastewater from the plant into the Pacific Ocean within the next two years. The plant was crippled in 2011 by an earthquake and tsunami that caused a disastrous triple meltdown. TEPCO claims it’s now running out of room to continue storing the wastewater onsite, but expert critics of the plan say that’s not really true.

The unprecedented disposal plan is expected to last for decades, with the wastewater to be pumped through a half mile long undersea tunnel that has yet to be constructed. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) signed off on the scheme last year, with IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi declaring that ocean disposal would be “both technically feasible and in line with international practice.” Yet, Grossi also admitted “the large amount of water at the Fukushima plant makes it a unique and complex case.”

This leaves opponents of the plan with no other regulatory recourse. Those opposed include Greenpeace Japan, human rights experts from the United Nations (UN), the government of China (which has deemed the strategy “extremely irresponsible”), as well as labor unions in the Japanese fishing industry.

Japanese fishermen fear that seafood will be contaminated by tritium in the wastewater — a radioactive isotope that cannot be removed through filtering. Japanese regulators have claimed the tritium will be diluted below 1/40th of the allowable level for discharge in Japan and to 1/7th of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) ceiling for drinking water.

The Japanese government has put forth a relief plan to assist the fishing industry, saying last year that it will create a fund to buy and store freezable seafood from fishermen whose sales drop due to reputational damage from the discharges from Fukushima. The details on the plan remain murky though, as does the wastewater’s potential damage to the food chain.

Radioactive Water Storage Tanks at Fukushima Daiichi

55 countries and regions including the United States imposed restrictions on the import of Japanese seafood in the wake of the Fukushima meltdowns, but only five of them still have import bans in place (China, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.)

EnviroNews reached out to the IAEA but the agency did not respond to a query about their endorsement of the controversial plan, while the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) predictably deflected toward the IAEA.

“The United States is confident the Government of Japan, in collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency, has weighed all available options and has taken all appropriate international guidelines into consideration in its decision-making process. We understand the IAEA will continue to work closely with the Government of Japan to ensure the adopted approach is in accordance with globally accepted nuclear safety standards,” U.S. NRC Public Affairs Officer Scott Burnell told EnviroNews by email.

Greenpeace has another view, condemning the dumping plan and insisting TEPCO’s claim about running out of storage space at Fukushima simply isn’t true.

In the wake of the IAEA’s endorsement of the scheme last year, Greenpeace Japan’s Climate/Energy Campaigner Kazue Suzuki said this:

“The Japanese government has once again failed the people of Fukushima. The government has taken the wholly unjustified decision to deliberately contaminate the Pacific Ocean with radioactive wastes. It has discounted the radiation risks and turned its back on the clear evidence that sufficient storage capacity is available on the nuclear site as well as in surrounding districts. Rather than using the best available technology to minimize radiation hazards by storing and processing the water over the long term, they have opted for the cheapest option, dumping the water into the Pacific Ocean.”

Several human rights experts from the United Nations’ Human Rights Council have also expressed concern and regret at Japan’s dumping strategy with the three Special Rapporteurs saying this in a statement last year:

“Japan has noted that the levels of tritium are very low and do not pose a threat to human health. However, scientists warn that the tritium in the water organically binds to other molecules, moving up the food chain affecting plants and fish and humans. They say the radioactive hazards of tritium have been underestimated and could pose risks to humans and the environment for over 100 years.”

Nuclear engineer and Fairewinds Energy Education board member Arnie Gundersen has visited the Fukushima site four times over the past decade and concurs with the Greenpeace assessment. In an interview with EnviroNews, he pointed out how the land next to the nuclear plant could be utilized for further storage of the contaminated water.

“There’s vast amounts of pasture land, immediately adjacent, that [are] highly contaminated… so they’re not going to use it for anything,” Gundersen told EnviroNews. “So, they could build more tanks, but it’s cheaper for them to dump it than to build more tanks.”

Gundersen also takes issue with TEPCO’s claim that the proposed dumping scheme will only involve a release of tritium, noting that there are still other radioactive isotopes of concern.

“They’re trying to portray this as a tritium release, but in fact there are other isotopes in the water in addition to tritium. There’s strontium and cesium and things like that,” Gundersen said. “The isotope of concern for me is Strontium 90, which is classified as an HDT – which stands for hard to detect.”

Gundersen noted that strontium is “a bone-seeker” that causes leukemia and is difficult to detect because it emits a beta particle that is similar to other elements emitted at the same frequency. As to the tritium, he noted that it’s naturally occurring in very low quantities so that measurements won’t find an appreciable increase 100 to 200 miles away from where TEPCO is planning the discharge.  The dump-zone itself however, is another story.

“200 miles of ocean is an awful lot to contaminate because you’re too cheap to build more tanks,” Gundersen asserted. He pointed out that tritium has a 12-year half-life, meaning that the contamination level would decrease by 50 percent in 12 years, 75 percent in 24 years, and would be considered decayed by 120 years.

Gundersen says the IAEA’s claim that TEPCO’s dumping plan is in line with international practice is another blatant falsehood.

“It’s not in line with international practice. You’re talking about dumping a thousand tanks of thousands of tons [of contaminated wastewater] per tank into the ocean. Nobody’s doing that, it’s never been done,” Gundersen rebuffed, adding that the IAEA is more concerned about protecting the image of the nuclear power industry than they are about protecting the oceans and the food chain.

(EnviroNews World News) — Fukushima Prefecture, Japan — Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has formally endorsed a controversial plan by TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) — the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant — to start dumping more than a million tons of radioactive wastewater from the plant into the Pacific Ocean within the next two years. The plant was crippled in 2011 by an earthquake and tsunami that caused a disastrous triple meltdown. TEPCO claims it’s now running out of room to continue storing the wastewater onsite, but expert critics of the plan say that’s not really true.

The unprecedented disposal plan is expected to last for decades, with the wastewater to be pumped through a half mile long undersea tunnel that has yet to be constructed. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) signed off on the scheme last year, with IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi declaring that ocean disposal would be “both technically feasible and in line with international practice.” Yet, Grossi also admitted “the large amount of water at the Fukushima plant makes it a unique and complex case.”

This leaves opponents of the plan with no other regulatory recourse. Those opposed include Greenpeace Japan, human rights experts from the United Nations (UN), the government of China (which has deemed the strategy “extremely irresponsible”), as well as labor unions in the Japanese fishing industry.

Japanese fishermen fear that seafood will be contaminated by tritium in the wastewater — a radioactive isotope that cannot be removed through filtering. Japanese regulators have claimed the tritium will be diluted below 1/40th of the allowable level for discharge in Japan and to 1/7th of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) ceiling for drinking water.

The Japanese government has put forth a relief plan to assist the fishing industry, saying last year that it will create a fund to buy and store freezable seafood from fishermen whose sales drop due to reputational damage from the discharges from Fukushima. The details on the plan remain murky though, as does the wastewater’s potential damage to the food chain.

Radioactive Water Storage Tanks at Fukushima Daiichi

55 countries and regions including the United States imposed restrictions on the import of Japanese seafood in the wake of the Fukushima meltdowns, but only five of them still have import bans in place (China, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.)

EnviroNews reached out to the IAEA but the agency did not respond to a query about their endorsement of the controversial plan, while the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) predictably deflected toward the IAEA.

“The United States is confident the Government of Japan, in collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency, has weighed all available options and has taken all appropriate international guidelines into consideration in its decision-making process. We understand the IAEA will continue to work closely with the Government of Japan to ensure the adopted approach is in accordance with globally accepted nuclear safety standards,” U.S. NRC Public Affairs Officer Scott Burnell told EnviroNews by email.

Greenpeace has another view, condemning the dumping plan and insisting TEPCO’s claim about running out of storage space at Fukushima simply isn’t true.

In the wake of the IAEA’s endorsement of the scheme last year, Greenpeace Japan’s Climate/Energy Campaigner Kazue Suzuki said this:

The Japanese government has once again failed the people of Fukushima. The government has taken the wholly unjustified decision to deliberately contaminate the Pacific Ocean with radioactive wastes. It has discounted the radiation risks and turned its back on the clear evidence that sufficient storage capacity is available on the nuclear site as well as in surrounding districts. Rather than using the best available technology to minimize radiation hazards by storing and processing the water over the long term, they have opted for the cheapest option, dumping the water into the Pacific Ocean.

Several human rights experts from the United Nations’ Human Rights Council have also expressed concern and regret at Japan’s dumping strategy with the three Special Rapporteurs saying this in a statement last year:

Japan has noted that the levels of tritium are very low and do not pose a threat to human health. However, scientists warn that the tritium in the water organically binds to other molecules, moving up the food chain affecting plants and fish and humans. They say the radioactive hazards of tritium have been underestimated and could pose risks to humans and the environment for over 100 years.

Nuclear engineer and Fairewinds Energy Education board member Arnie Gundersen has visited the Fukushima site four times over the past decade and concurs with the Greenpeace assessment. In an interview with EnviroNews, he pointed out how the land next to the nuclear plant could be utilized for further storage of the contaminated water.

“There’s vast amounts of pasture land, immediately adjacent, that [are] highly contaminated… so they’re not going to use it for anything,” Gundersen told EnviroNews. “So, they could build more tanks, but it’s cheaper for them to dump it than to build more tanks.”

Gundersen also takes issue with TEPCO’s claim that the proposed dumping scheme will only involve a release of tritium, noting that there are still other radioactive isotopes of concern.

“They’re trying to portray this as a tritium release, but in fact there are other isotopes in the water in addition to tritium. There’s strontium and cesium and things like that,” Gundersen said. “The isotope of concern for me is Strontium 90, which is classified as an HDT – which stands for hard to detect.”

Gundersen noted that strontium is “a bone-seeker” that causes leukemia and is difficult to detect because it emits a beta particle that is similar to other elements emitted at the same frequency. As to the tritium, he noted that it’s naturally occurring in very low quantities so that measurements won’t find an appreciable increase 100 to 200 miles away from where TEPCO is planning the discharge.  The dump-zone itself however, is another story.

“200 miles of ocean is an awful lot to contaminate because you’re too cheap to build more tanks,” Gundersen asserted. He pointed out that tritium has a 12-year half-life, meaning that the contamination level would decrease by 50 percent in 12 years, 75 percent in 24 years, and would be considered decayed by 120 years.

Gundersen says the IAEA’s claim that TEPCO’s dumping plan is in line with international practice is another blatant falsehood.

“It’s not in line with international practice. You’re talking about dumping a thousand tanks of thousands of tons [of contaminated wastewater] per tank into the ocean. Nobody’s doing that, it’s never been done,” Gundersen rebuffed, adding that the IAEA is more concerned about protecting the image of the nuclear power industry than they are about protecting the oceans and the food chain.

“The IAEA is a handmaiden to the nuclear industry. Article II of the IAEA charter is to promote nuclear power, so you’re not getting an objective analysis,” Gundersen laments.

Robert H. Richmond, a research professor and Director of the Kewalo Marine Laboratory at the University of Hawaii, voiced similar concerns earlier this summer in an article for CodeBlue:

Claims of safety are not scientifically supported by the available information. The world’s oceans are shared among all people, providing over 50 per cent of the oxygen we breathe, and a diversity of resources of economic, ecological and cultural value for present and future generations. Within the Pacific Islands in particular, the ocean is viewed as connecting, rather than separating, widely distributed populations. Releasing radioactive contaminated water into the Pacific is an irreversible action with transboundary and transgenerational implications. As such, it should not be unilaterally undertaken by any country.

Richmond went on to call for a more prudent approach adhering to precautionary principles. “The rush to dilute and dump is ill-advised and such actions should be postponed until further due diligence can be performed,” he said. “Sound science, and a much more careful consideration of the alternatives, and respect for the health and well-being of the peoples of the Pacific region, all demand it,” Richmond concluded.

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japanese Government is extremely self-serving in promoting the release of treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the sea,” says Chinese media

China calls Japan “self-serving” for discharging treated water

August 14, 2022

The Chinese media is increasingly protesting against the discharge into the ocean of treated water containing radioactive materials from TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. They accuse the Japanese government of “selfishness” and “self-serving” in its plans to discharge contaminated nuclear water into the Pacific Ocean starting next spring, without regard to domestic and international opposition.

The China Network reported, “TEPCO has recently officially started construction of facilities to discharge nuclear contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the ocean. This marks another step forward in Japan’s plan to discharge contaminated water into the ocean. The Japanese government, together with TEPCO, has been pushing for the oceanic discharge of contaminated water, a move that has been met with fierce opposition in Japan and neighboring countries,” the report said.

Masanobu Sakamoto, chairman of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Cooperative Associations, said, “The discharge of nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean has not been understood by the people of Japan and fishermen, and our position of firm opposition remains unchanged. The Seoul office of Greenpeace, an environmental group, also stated, “The dangers of discharging nuclear contaminated water into the ocean are extremely grave, and despite the existence of alternative plans such as long-term storage of nuclear contaminated water, the Japanese government has decided to discharge nuclear contaminated water into the ocean. This is in violation of the principle of prior precautionary measures and other measures that are unanimously accepted by the international community.

The China Times, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China (CPC), published an article written by Liu Jiu, associate professor at the Faculty of Humanities of Harbin Engineering University. He warned that “once Japan causes radioactive contamination by unilaterally disposing of contaminated water at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, it will bear various serious consequences for violating international law and international rules.

The disposal of contaminated water is not merely a matter of Japan’s internal affairs, but must also be regulated and bound by international law, and Japan must comply with its obligations under relevant international law,” Liu said. Japan is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Convention on the Early Notification of Nuclear Accidents, the Convention on Nuclear Safety, and the Convention on the Safety of Radioactive Waste. Under Article 192 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, each country has an obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment,” he continued.

Japan should promptly seek the opinions of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other international organizations and interested countries on the discharge of contaminated water from nuclear power plants into the ocean based on transparent data and truthful information, and together discuss methods and technologies for the disposal of contaminated water and come up with reasonable and legal measures,” he emphasized. If Japan stubbornly ignores its obligations under international law, does not respond to the concerns of the international community, and acts arbitrarily, it will invite endless criticism, claims of responsibility, lawsuits, and compensation claims from neighboring countries, Pacific island nations, and the entire world,” he asserted. The China Network reported, “TEPCO has recently officially started construction of facilities to discharge nuclear contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the ocean. This marks another step forward in Japan’s plan to discharge contaminated water into the ocean. The Japanese government, together with TEPCO, has been pushing for the oceanic discharge of contaminated water, a move that has been met with fierce opposition in Japan and neighboring countries,” the report said.

https://news.nifty.com/article/world/china/12181-1809116/?fbclid=IwAR2nkAKaRYSxyG5V0v90hjNy7kPF25paW-SCyIDal5RuOjh1IjU93uxmw1I

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

The shadows grow longer in Fukushima

The Fukushima No 2 nuclear power plant, as seen in March, is part of a complex that has come to define the region in northeastern Japan since disaster struck in March 2011

August 15, 2022

As Tokyo tries to woo residents back, plans to dump toxic water pose more perils

For Setsuko Matsumoto, 71, there will be no return to her hometown in Fukushima prefecture-that is despite the determined efforts of the Japanese government to win her over to the idea that it is safe to do so. And that goes for the many like Matsumoto who cannot countenance how they can once again live in neighborhoods that were devastated by the earthquake and tsunami more than a decade ago.

Having run a hair salon for almost 30 years in Futaba, a town 4 kilometers from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Matsumoto believes the place has no future. The government would have her believe otherwise. On Aug 30, it will lift the last of the restrictions imposed that have prevented former residents from living in the region permanently. It claims radiation levels arising from the nuclear accident in March 2011 are now low enough to be deemed safe.

“I don’t think that the town will be able to go on, even with the return of some elderly residents,” says Matsumoto.

Although 11 years have passed since the Fukushima plant’s cooling systems were severely damaged in the disaster, triggering the meltdown of three reactors and the release of large amounts of radiation, Matsumoto has her reasons for not moving back.

“Residing in Futaba is not an option for me,” she says. “The lack of shopping and medical care opportunities can’t be solved anytime soon and I don’t have a reason to relocate to a place with a worse living environment.”

Over the years, there have been sustained efforts-both from the top down and the bottom up-aimed at driving Fukushima’s reconstruction and revitalization. Seemingly limitless funds have been spent on that process, from the national government all the way down to township levels. These efforts are all bound up in the Japanese government’s economic and political ambitions to show the world that it has succeeded in managing the nuclear crisis.

Yet that strong desire to change Fukushima into something resembling its old form, or even something better, has encountered resistance from the likes of Matsumoto, who have lived with the effects of trauma for more than a decade.

Work proceeds in March on the construction of a shaft at the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant near the town of Futaba in Japan’s northeast.

As a result of the disaster, some 160,000 people like Matsumoto were evacuated from the Fukushima region. What the authorities had to contend with was a level-7 nuclear accident, the highest on the international scale of nuclear and radiological events. By the end of 2021, some 40,000 of them were still unable to return to their homes. But, with Futaba, the last of dozens of places ending their status as no-go zones, the government still faces a challenge in regaining the people’s trust.

In a survey conducted by Japan’s Reconstruction Agency and others, only 11.3 percent of respondents said they wanted to return to Futaba while more than 60 percent said they already decided not to return.

The town aims to attract 2,000 people back in the next five years but in a trial for overnight stays, beginning in January, has seen only 15 former residents have applied.

In a report in 2020, Miranda Schreurs, a professor and chair of environmental and climate policy at the Technical University of Munich, Germany, argues that the situation in Fukushima remains precarious because problems like the removal of radioactively contaminated waste, and issues such as incineration, still need to be addressed.

“It will still take many years to win back confidence and trust in the government’s messages that the region is safe,” Schreurs says in the report, adding that intergenerational equity is also an issue. The next generations will be left with the burden of completing the highly dangerous and complex decommissioning work at the Fukushima plant, she said.

The plans for Fukushima’s future also bump up against the government’s divisive decision to proceed with a plan to discharge the radioactive water from the plant into the Pacific Ocean. The water has been used to cool the highly radioactive, damaged reactor cores and would be sufficient to fill about 500 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Under Tokyo’s schedule, the ocean disposal will begin next spring.

Those plans present another blow to those former Fukushima residents who may be wanting to return to their old communities.

“Dumping the water went contrary to a government pledge of reconstructing my hometown Fukushima because it threatens a double blow to our community,” says Hisae Unuma, an evacuee who has been among those pushing for the government to scrap the decision.

However, despite the mounting opposition from people in and outside Japan, the Japanese government has not troubled itself to give the plan a second thought.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority of Japan officially endorsed the discharge plan on July 22.

On Aug 4, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, the Fukushima plant’s operator, announced the start of construction on the pipelines that will take the contaminated water out to sea. But Japanese media have already reported that these works were all but completed.

Japanese take to the streets in Tokyo in April 2021 to protest against the government’s plan for ocean discharge

In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Japan must not discharge the contaminated water before a consensus is reached with all stakeholders, as well as with international agencies, after a thorough consultation. “This is a litmus test of Japan’s commitment to international obligations,” Zhao said.

On Aug 1, South Korean Minister of Oceans and Fisheries Cho Seunghwan said the government is considering whether to take the issue to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. Cho said the government’s primary goal is to prevent Japan from releasing the contaminated water. “We do not accept the release plan”, he said.

Last month, a meeting of foreign ministers of the Pacific Islands Forum released a document criticizing Japan. The ministers said the ocean discharge could lead to “transgenerational impacts of great concern to the peoples of the Pacific”.

In Japan, the condemnations of official policy, along with petitions calling for the reversal of the decision, have been constant since the ocean discharge plan was confirmed by the government in April last year.

Among the environmental groups denouncing the plan is FoE Japan. In a statement, it says the Japanese government and TEPCO had much earlier made written commitments on the matter, that “without the understanding of relevant personnel, no actions will be taken”. However, the government still decided to go ahead with the ocean discharge without seeking advice from the parties involved, the statement says.

Civil society groups in the most-affected prefectures submitted a petition to Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and TEPCO in March. Reaffirming their opposition to the release of the contaminated water, they demanded that the government pursue other alternatives. Consumer groups and fisheries associations are at the forefront of this action.

The petition has collected some 180,000 signatures from residents in prefectures such as Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi.

Masanobu Sakamoto, president of the National Fisheries Cooperative Federation of Japan, says the plan has not gained the support of the public and the fisheries industry and that the federation’s firm opposition remains.

Katsuhito Fuyuki, the board chair of the Miyagi Consumers Cooperative Association, likewise says the government’s disposal plan has failed to win public support.

“The impact of the 2011 nuclear accident remains and imports of Miyagi fishery products are still banned by nearby countries,” says Fuyuki, adding that the decision would deal a further blow to the local economy.

Tests are conducted in March on contaminated water from the Fukushima plant. Many are skeptical that the water can be treated safely.

Under the government’s plan, the authorities will gradually discharge the still-contaminated water from next spring. Japan insists there are no alternatives to the ocean discharge. It says that by the end of 2022 there will be no space left at the site for storage. Moreover, after a treatment process known as the Advanced Liquid Processing System, or ALPS, the radioactive tritium-a radioactive isotope of hydrogen-will be the only radionuclide in the water and that it is harmless.

However, many environmental scientists and environmentalists are scathing in their condemnation of Japan’s narrative, saying it is misinformation aimed at creating a false impression that the consequences of the 2011 nuclear disaster are short-lived.

A report in 2020 by the environmental group Greenpeace says the narrative has been constructed to serve financial and political reasons.

“Long after the Yoshihide Suga (and Shinzo Abe) administrations are historical footnotes, the negative consequences of the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown will remain a present and constant threat most immediately to the people and environment of Fukushima, but also to the rest of Japan and internationally,” says the report, referring to Suga as the then prime minister whose government approved the disposal plan a year ago.

According to the Greenpeace report, there is no technical, engineering or legal barrier to securing storage space for ALPS-treated contaminated water. It is only a matter of political will and the decision is based on expediency-the cheapest option is ocean discharge.

“The discharge of wastewater from Fukushima is an act of contaminating the Pacific Ocean as well as the sea area of South Korea,” says Ahn Jae-hun, energy and climate change director at the Korea Federation for Environment Movement, an advocacy group in Seoul.

“Many people in South Korea believe that Japan’s discharge of the Fukushima wastewater is a wrong policy that threatens the safety of both the sea and humans.”

Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, says the Fukushima contaminated water issue comes under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as it is a form of pollution to international waters.

There are strong grounds for individual countries to file a legal challenge against Japan’s plan, Burnie says.

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202208/15/WS62f99f00a310fd2b29e7224e_1.html

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Respite for Japan as radioactive Fukushima water accumulation slows

Photo taken from a Kyodo News helicopter in February 2022 shows tanks used to store treated water on the premises of the crippled-Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan. (Kyodo)

Aug 12, 2022

Tanks containing treated water at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant are likely to reach capacity around the fall of 2023, later than the initially predicted spring of next year, as the pace of the accumulation of radioactive water slowed in fiscal 2021.

The slowdown, based on an estimate by operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., gives some breathing space to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government if any roadblocks are thrown up in the plan to discharge the treated water into the sea starting around spring next year.

China and South Korea as well as local fishing communities that fear reputational damage to their products remain concerned and have expressed opposition to the plan.

About 1.30 million tons of treated water has accumulated at the Fukushima Daiichi plant following the 2011 nuclear disaster, and it is inching closer to the capacity of 1.37 million tons.

The water became contaminated after being pumped in to cool melted reactor fuel at the plant and has been accumulating at the complex, also mixing with rainwater and groundwater.

According to the plan, the water — treated through an advanced liquid processing system, or ALPS, that removes radionuclides except for tritium — will be released 1-kilometer off the Pacific coast of the plant through an underwater pipe.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has been conducting safety reviews of the discharge plan and Director General Rafael Grossi says the U.N. nuclear watchdog will support Japan before, during and after the release of the water, based on science.

An IAEA task force, established last year, is made up of independent and highly regarded experts with diverse technical backgrounds from various countries including China and South Korea.

Japan’s new industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura says the government and TEPCO will go ahead with the discharge plan around the spring of 2023 and stresses the two parties will strengthen communication with local residents and fishermen, as well as neighboring countries, to win their understanding.

Beijing and Seoul are among the 12 countries and regions that still have restrictions on food imports from Japan imposed in the wake of the massive earthquake and tsunami triggered nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima plant in March 2011.

“We will improve our communication methods so we can convey information backed by scientific evidence to people both at home and abroad more effectively,” Nishimura said after taking up the current post in a Cabinet reshuffle Wednesday.

Kishida instructed Nishimura to focus on the planned discharge of ALPS-treated water that will be diluted with seawater to one-40th of the maximum concentration of tritium permitted under Japanese regulations, according to the chief of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

The level is lower than the World Health Organization’s recommended maximum tritium limit for drinking water.

TEPCO will cap the total amount of tritium to be released into the sea as well.

Meanwhile, the Kishida government has decided to set up a 30 billion yen ($227 million) fund to support the fisheries industry and said it will buy seafood if demand dries up due to harmful rumors.

Fishing along the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, known for high-quality seafood, has been recovering from the reputational damage caused by the nuclear accident but the catch volume in 2021 was only about 5,000 tons, or about 20 percent of 2010 levels.

Construction of discharge facilities at the Fukushima plant started in August, while work to slow the infiltration of rain and groundwater was also conducted.

TEPCO said it was able to reduce the pace of accumulation of contaminated water by fixing the roof of a reactor building and cementing soil slopes around the facilities, among other measures, to prevent rainwater penetration.

The volume of radioactive water decreased some 20 tons a day from a year earlier to about 130 tons per day in fiscal 2021, according to the ministry.

The projected timeline to reach the tank capacity has been calculated based on the assumption that about 140 tons of contaminated water will be generated per day, according to METI.

However, storage tanks could still reach their capacity around the summer of next year if heavy precipitation or some unexpected events occur, the ministry said.

As part of preparations for the planned discharge, the Environment Ministry has started measuring tritium concentration at 30 locations on the surface of the sea and seabed around the Fukushima plant, four times a year.

Similarly, the Nuclear Regulation Authority has increased the number of locations it monitors tritium levels by eight to 20. The Fisheries Agency has started measuring tritium concentration in marine products caught along the Pacific coast stretching from Hokkaido to Chiba Prefecture.

Given that it is expected to take several decades to complete the release of treated water, NRA and METI officials urged TEPCO to further curb the generation of contaminated water at the plant.

“We want TEPCO to step up efforts so as to lower the volume of the daily generation of contaminated water to about 100 tons or lower by the end of 2025,” a METI official said.

https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2022/08/d10f63c6bde0-focus-respite-for-japan-as-radioactive-water-accumulation-slows-in-fukushima.html

August 14, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , | 1 Comment

Japan extremely selfish to insist on discharging nuclear wastewater into sea

August 8, 2022

TOKYO, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) — Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO) has recently started construction of facilities that will discharge radioactive wastewater from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the sea, taking another step in its plan to release nuclear-contaminated water.

The Japanese government’s drive to push through a long-term plan to release wastewater into the Pacific Ocean starting in the spring of 2023, despite domestic and international opposition, is extremely selfish, analysts say.

SELFISHNESS

Struck by a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that hit Japan’s northeast on March 11, 2011, the No. 1-3 reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant suffered core meltdowns, resulting in a level-7 nuclear accident, the highest on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale.

The plant has been generating a massive amount of radiation-tainted water since the accident happened as it needs water to cool the reactors. With groundwater and rainwater also flowing in, about 1.3 million tons of contaminated water are now stored at the nuclear plant and are still increasing at a rate of 140 tons a day.

TEPCO claimed that the water storage tank’s current storage capacity of 1.37 million tons will run out this autumn and the plant has no more space for new water storage tanks to be constructed, so it has to release the contaminated water into the sea after filtering, purifying and diluting it.

In response to TEPCO’s claims, Japanese environmental groups pointed out that much of the land near the plant has been left idle due to nuclear leakage and could be used to construct additional water storage tanks.

However, the Japanese government and TEPCO rejected the idea, citing the need for a large amount of time for communication and coordination as well as a lot more work.

Environmentalists say it is not that the option is infeasible, it is because the Japanese government and TEPCO do not want to do it, as they put their own interests first.

A panel of experts organized by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry had proposed five options when considering how to deal with the contaminated water.

Among them, the Japanese government said the options of discharging the water into the sea and vapor release were two “most practical solutions” and it finally chose the former one, which “takes the shortest time and costs the least,” passing on the risk to the whole world.

BROKEN CREDIT

Contaminated water generated at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant contains tritium, cesium, strontium and other radioactive materials. The Japanese government and TEPCO said they would use the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS), a multi-nuclide removal equipment, to reduce the concentrations of 62 types of radioactive substances, with the exception of tritium, which is hard to remove by purification and will remain in the treated water.

TEPCO believes that tritium normally remains in the wastewater at ordinary nuclear power stations, therefore it is safe to discharge tritium-contaminated water.

Experts say TEPCO is trying to confuse the concept of the wastewater that meets international standards during normal operation of nuclear power plants with that of the complex nuclear-contaminated water produced after the core meltdowns at the wrecked Fukushima power plant.

The actual results of ALPS are not as ideal as TEPCO claims. Japanese media have found that in addition to tritium, there are a variety of radioactive substances in the Fukushima nuclear wastewater that exceed the standard. TEPCO has also admitted that about 70 percent of the water treated by ALPS contains radionuclides other than tritium at the concentration which exceeds legally required standards and requires filtration again.

Also the reliability of ALPS itself is questionable. According to a report by Japan’s Asahi Shimbun in September 2021, 24 of the 25 filters used by ALPS to absorb radioactive substances were damaged, and the damage occurred two years ago, but TEPCO did not deal with it in time.

The Korean Federation for Environmental Movements, a South Korean civic environmental organization, said that TEPCO claimed to have the ability to reduce the concentration of 62 radioactive substances excluding tritium before the discharge of the contaminated water, but this is by no means the truth. The organization warned that it is hard to clean the sea water once it is polluted.

From the cover-up of the meltdown at the beginning of the Fukushima disaster to the bowing and apologizing for underreporting for more than a decade, TEPCO has left so many stains on its credibility that its nuclear credit has long since gone busted.

OPPOSITION FROM ALL SIDES

The willful push by the Japanese government and TEPCO to release wastewater into the sea has triggered strong opposition from both within Japan and its neighboring countries. Last Wednesday, a local civic group organized a protest outside the government house of Fukushima Prefecture to show their opposition to the plan.

After TEPCO announced last Thursday the start of the construction of facilities for releasing radioactive wastewater into the sea, a Japanese environmental organization issued a statement on the same day, pointing out that the Japanese government and TEPCO had made written commitments on the matter saying “without the understanding of relevant personnel, no actions will be taken.” However, the government still decided in April last year to release the nuclear-contaminated water into the sea without seeking advice from relevant parties to make it a fait accompli.

On July 22, the Nuclear Regulation Authority of Japan officially endorsed TEPCO’s nuclear-contaminated water discharge plan.

Responding to this, Masanobu Sakamoto, president of the National Fisheries Cooperative Federation of Japan, said the plan has not gained the understanding of the public and the fishery industry and that the federation’s firm opposition to the discharge had not changed at all.

Greenpeace Seoul Office said that the danger of discharging nuclear-contaminated water into the sea is obvious. The Japanese government’s decision to discharge the contaminated water into the sea when there are alternatives such as long-term storage violates the precautionary principle recognized by the international community.

https://english.news.cn/20220810/97096f0719604e19879e398798bd0b59/c.html

August 14, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s unilateral decision of dumping nuclear-contaminated water into ocean not responsible: Chinese ambassador for disarmament affairs

Li Song, Chinese ambassador for disarmament affairs

Aug 09, 2022

Japan’s dumping of Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean will have influence on the ocean environment, security of food and people’s health, and Japan made such unilateral decision without having full negotiation with neighboring countries or international organizations, which is irresponsible and immoral, Li Song, Chinese ambassador for disarmament affairs, said Monday at the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, expressing strong concerns over the related issues.

Japan’s unilateral decision to dump Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean is made purely out of concerns for its own economic cost, and it has neither resorted to all possible ways to handle it, nor had full negotiations with neighboring countries. Such selfish move is to transfer the risk to the international community. People in Japan, China, South Korea, Russia and Pacific island countries all expressed their concerns, Li said.

Japanese regulators have approved the plan of dumping Fukushima’s nuclear-contaminated water into the sea, which has caused safety concerns in the international community and neighboring countries.

Li pointed out that the international community has paid great attention on issues of the legitimacy of Japan’s plan of dumping the water, the credibility over the data, efficiency of the decontamination equipment, and the influence on the environment.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has not reached a final conclusion on the assessment on Japan’s plan, but has given Japan many improvement suggestions. But regrettably, Japan has purposely neglected it and kept pushing its plans. Such moves are not what a responsible country should take, Li said.

Dumping Fukushima’s nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean is not Japan’s own business and Japan should respond to the global concerns and go back to the track of communicating with parties of shared concerns. And it should stop forcibly pushing the dumping plan, Li said.

Japan should make sure handling the water in an open, transparent, scientific and safe manner, and take alternative plans and accept supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Li, noting that this is the touchstone to test whether Japan can effectively fulfill its responsibility.

https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202208/1272548.shtml

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Construction begins at Fukushima plant for water release

Workers walk around a construction site for a planned shaft at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO), in the town of Futaba, northeastern Japan, on March 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae, File)

August 4, 2022

TOKYO (AP) — The construction of facilities needed for a planned release of treated radioactive wastewater into the sea next year from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant began Thursday despite opposition from the local fishing community.

Plant workers started construction of a pipeline to transport the wastewater from hillside storage tanks to a coastal facility before its planned release next year, according to the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings.

The digging of an undersea tunnel was also to begin later Thursday.

Construction at the Fukushima Daiichi plant follows the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s formal approval last month of a detailed wastewater discharge plan that TEPCO submitted in December.

The government announced last year a decision to release the wastewater as a necessary step for the plant’s ongoing decommissioning.

A massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011 destroyed the Fukushima Daiichi plant’s cooling systems, causing triple meltdowns and the release of large amounts of radiation. Water that was used to cool the three damaged and highly radioactive reactor cores has since leaked into basements of the reactor buildings but was collected and stored in tanks.

TEPCO and government officials say the water will be further treated to levels far below releasable standards and that the environmental and health impacts will be negligible. Of more than 60 isotopes selected for treatment, all but one — tritium — will be reduced to meet safety standards, they say.

Local fishing communities and neighboring countries have raised concerns about potential health hazards from the radioactive wastewater and the reputation damage to local produce, and oppose the release.

Scientists say the impact of long-term, low-dose exposure to not only tritium but also other isotopes on the environment and humans are still unknown and that a release is premature.

The contaminated water is being stored in about 1,000 tanks that require much space in the plant complex. Officials say they must be removed so that facilities can be built for its decommissioning. The tanks are expected to reach their capacity of 1.37 million tons in autumn of 2023.

TEPCO said it plans to transport treated and releasable water through a pipeline from the tanks to a coastal pool, where it will be diluted with seawater and then sent through an undersea tunnel with an outlet about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) away to minimize the impact on local fishing and the environment.

TEPCO and the government have obtained approval from the heads of the plant’s host towns, Futaba and Okuma, for the construction, but local residents and the fishing community remain opposed and could still delay the process. The current plan calls for a gradual release of treated water to begin next spring in a process that will take decades.

TEPCO said Wednesday that weather and sea conditions could delay a completion of the facility until summer 2023.

Japan has sought help from the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure the water release meets international safety standards and reassure local fishing and other communities and neighboring countries, including China and South Korea, that have opposed the plan.

IAEA experts who visited the plant earlier this year said Japan was taking appropriate steps for the planned discharge.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20220804/p2g/00m/0na/016000c

August 14, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , , | Leave a comment