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55% oppose release of treated water from Fukushima plant

Numerous tanks containing contaminated water from the stricken reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant occupy a large portion of the site’s premises in October.

January 4, 2021

Fifty-five percent of voters in a survey expressed opposition to the government’s plan to release treated contaminated water from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant into the sea, while 32 percent support the measure.

The Asahi Shimbun survey also found that more than 80 percent of respondents fear the reputation of local seafood would be hurt if the treated water were discharged.

The government is moving to release tons of water from the stricken facility situated on the Pacific coast of northeastern Japan because the plant’s capacity to store radioactive water on its premises is projected to reach its limit in summer 2022.

This will be accomplished by removing most of the extremely hazardous radioactive substances and diluting the polluted water sufficiently so that it comfortably clears the government’s safety standards for disposal.

However, local fishermen and the national federation of fishermen’s groups, along with local municipalities, all staunchly oppose discharging the water.

Fifty percent of voters supporting the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and 47 percent of Suga’s Liberal Democratic Party are against the plan, outnumbering those who favor it, the survey showed.

By gender, men were sharply divided over the question, with 44 percent endorsing it and 46 percent opposing the plan.

But 62 percent of women took exception to it, compared with 22 percent who approved of the plan.

Asked whether the image of local seafood would be adversely affected after the water is released, 42 percent said they were “deeply concerned” about the matter, while 44 percent replied they were “somewhat concerned.”

The ratio of those who were “not concerned so much” came to 9 percent. Those who were “not concerned at all” stood at 2 percent.

But the survey also showed that 68 percent of voters backing the discharge said it will undermine the reputation of local seafood.

With regard to the government’s handling of the Fukushima nuclear disaster to date, 67 percent gave the thumbs down and 20 percent rated its performance highly.

Among supporters of the LDP, 56 percent had a low opinion of the government’s approach.

The survey also showed that 64 percent of respondents who took exception to government’s response were against the planned discharge of treated contaminated water into the sea.

The survey was conducted from November to December by sending questionnaires to 3,000 eligible voters nationwide selected at random. There were 2,126 valid responses, or 71 percent of the total.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14080736

January 9, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , | Leave a comment

No radioactive water dump!

November 22, 2020

From GENSUIKIN

The Japanese government appears ready to dispose of radioactive water contaminated by tritium and other radioactive materials from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean. GENSUIKIN is asking for your support to prevent this reckless attempt by the government. Please see the end of the article for action steps.

At GENSUIKIN, we have campaigned against any uses of nuclear technology by any country, including the commercial use of nuclear energy such as nuclear power plants, on the basis that “nuclear and humanity cannot coexist”.

On March 11, 2011, during the Great East Japan Earthquake, four of six nuclear reactors operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) had core meltdowns caused by loss of cooling power. Due to the high radiation dose at the facility – 42 Sv in the containment vessel and 5150 mSv in the buildings — it is impossible to know the true extent of damage to the core while cooling water continues to be injected to prevent criticality. 

There is now widespread opposition to nuclear power in Japan. Pictured: a rally in front of the Japanese Diet on October 27, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Gensuikin.)

In such a situation, it is extremely dangerous for cooling water to be contaminated by high level radioactive materials, to accumulate to as much as 1.23 million cubic meters and then, potentially, to leak into the groundwater.

At present, after decontamination by an Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS), the contaminated water is stored in tanks at the nuclear site. There are currently 1,044 tanks at the site. Astonishingly, to remove the contaminated water, the Japanese government and TEPCO plan to dispose of it by dumping it into the Pacific Ocean. There are a number of problems with this, around which we are organizing opposition movements in solidarity with residents in Fukushima. 

1. Hitachi’s Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) is not able to eliminate radioactive materials completely, especially tritium.

ALPS is supposed to eliminate other radioactive materials. However, in August 2018 Japanese media reported that ALPS had consistently failed to eliminate a variety of other radioactive elements, including iodine-129, ruthenium-106, and strontium. 

It has been revealed that, in 70% of the tanks, the amount of radioactive substances present is 20,000 times the standard. TEPCO promises it will conduct secondary processing to lower the amount of radioactive substances to below standard level, but has yet to keep its promise; thus the disposal of the contaminated water is still a dangerous act. Tritium cannot be eliminated by ALPS at all. TEPCO estimates that there are 860 trillion becquerels of tritium in the contaminated water as a whole.

There are varied opinions on how hazardous tritium is. It is often pointed out that tritium absorbed through food has negative effects on cells and damages DNA. TEPCO claims that it will dilute tritium-contaminated water to below standard level and dispose of it into the ocean; however, the absolute quantity of tritium in the water has not changed, and it is pointed out that tritium’s dangerous effects of bioaccumulation of radioactive material in fish can be seen throughout the food chain.

2. The disposal of contaminated water to the ocean violates international law.

For example, article 207 and article 213 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea; [ ] article 1 and article 4 of the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter of 1972; and article 4 of the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, 1972(London Protocol: LP).

There is justifiable concern about the contamination of the ocean and its fish stocks if the radioactive water from Fukushima is dumped into the sea. (Photo: “sushi from fukushima” by klara.kristina is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The “United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea” article 207 requests that “States shall adopt laws and regulations to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment from land-based sources”. The Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter of 1972 and London Protocol: (LP) forbid dumping any concentration of radioactive material into the sea. 

However, insisting that “discharge” is different from “disposal”, the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) has tried to approve dumping into the ocean without consensus. This ignores the fact that, when Russia disposed of 900 cubic meters of low-level radioactive waste liquid on October 6th, 1993, the JAEC and Japanese government criticized such disposal, thereby setting a precedent that disposal of even low-level radioactive waste liquid into the sea is not acceptable.

GENSUIKIN regards the disposal of Fukushima contaminated water to the ocean as a violation of international law, and breaking the promise made to international society to abandon the disposal of wastes into the ocean.

3. Japanese government and TEPCO have abandonedthe search for other measures with which todeal with the contaminated water.

They choose only disposal into the sea as it is the easiest and cheapest measure.

TEPCO argues that it will become too difficult to store the contaminated water due to a shortage of land required for holding tanks. However, it seems that they are making no effort to get land. While some areas are unsuitable due to radioactive contamination from the nuclear accident in Fukushima, there is some more usable land on the nuclear power plant site, contrary to TEPCO’s claims.

Furthermore, there are more options for reducing the space needed for the holding tanks. One such option is to use technology such as “Grease Solidification”, first implemented at the Savannah River Site Disposal Facility in the U.S., which solidifies highly tritium-contaminated water to be buried. TEPCO and the Japanese government have not considered these costly resolutions at all and have maintained disposal to the sea as the only option. This is not acceptable. 

4. A betrayal of Japan’s fisheries.

The Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations made a request to TEPCO, stating that: “After the processing of radioactive contaminated water by ALPS, TEPCO is responsible for holding it in tanks in the nuclear power plant sites and must not dispose of the water into the sea without consent from fisheries and Japanese people”.

In August 2015, TEPCO responded that: “Without agreement from stakeholders, we will not dispose of any water and after processing by ALPS, the water will be held in the tanks at the site”. 

Any such disposal now of water into the sea would be an act of betrayal to the fisheries.

Japan Fisheries Cooperatives and Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations have unanimously passed a resolution stating that they “firmly oppose the disposal of contaminated water into the sea”. 

Japan’s fisheries firmly oppose the dumping of radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear site into the Pacific Ocean. (Photo: The damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station as seen during a sea-water sampling boat journey. Credit: IAEA/David Osborn/WikiMediaCommons

Moreover, Fukushima Prefecture Federation of forestry cooperatives and Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives strongly oppose the disposal as well. Nineteen local assemblies in Fukushima Prefecture have submitted a written opinion opposing the disposal. There is no agreement on the disposal among stakeholders, which is a precondition of TEPCO’s promise to implement the disposal. TEPCO must not force the disposal. 

As we explain above, there are many problems about the disposal of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean. Therefore, there are no international and national agreements about it. In facing strong opposition to the disposal, the Japanese government postponed a cabinet council decision implementing the disposal, which was expected to be decided last October. 

There is strong opposition abroad. Whether the Japanese government is forced to abandon the disposal depends on opposition from public opinion. GENSUIKIN would like to do our best in having the government abandon the disposal.

TO HELP: Please send comments no later than November 30, voicing your — our your organization’s — opposition the disposal of Fukushima radioactive waste into the Pacific Ocean.Email you comments to: office@peace-forum.top  or kikosanm4004@gmail.com. Also, please also reach out to your elected officials and request that they send a message to the Japanese Consulate or Embassy in your area. The Science, ICT, Broadcasting and Communications Committee of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea has already passed a resolution requesting that the Japanese government  establish safer measures when processing the contaminated water.

Japan Congress Against A and H-Bombs (GENSUIKIN) was established in 1965, and is one of the largest anti-nuclear and peace organizations in Japan. GENSUIKIN has local organizations as members, consisting of labor unions, women’s organizations, youth organizations and civil society groups in all 47 prefectures of Japan.

Headline photo: Workers at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station work among underground water storage pools on 17 April 2013. Photo Credit: Greg Webb / IAEA / WikimediaCommons

November 22, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan claims to be willing to consult with neighboring counties like South Korea to ensure the safe release of contaminated water from its Fukushima nuclear power plant

Japan to consult with S. Korea in monitoring radioactive water disposal from Fukushima plant

November 20, 2020

Japan is willing to consult with neighboring counties like South Korea to ensure the safe release of contaminated water from its Fukushima nuclear power plant.
That’s what was said by a senior Japanese embassy official in Seoul on Friday as Tokyo is expected to soon announce its plan to discharge more than one.two million tons of radioactive water into the sea possibly starting in 2022.
The official said the embassy is willing to disclose all information if Seoul participates in the monitoring process to help dispel worries raised by fisheries industries and environmental groups.

http://www.arirang.co.kr/News/News_View.asp?nseq=268158

Japanese Embassy implies likelihood of Fukushima releasing contaminated water

November. 21, 2020

A top-ranking official at the Japanese Embassy in South Korea on Friday mentioned Japan’s plan to release contaminated water that was used to cool the the first nuclear power plant in Fukushima in an interview with South Korean journalists, saying, “It is too early to affirm the plan but it may be specified within this year. We expect to release the water around summer 2022.” “The levels of radioactive substances at the time of release will meet regulatory standards,” he said.

The remarks seemingly intend to bring the issue to the surface with the aim of alleviating a backlash from South Korea. If Tokyo makes an official announcement to release contaminated water, it will serve as the first trigger for dispute between the two neighboring nations since the inauguration of the Suga administration.  

Saying that the decision on the issue may not be put off indefinitely, the high-ranking official expected Tokyo to determine the timing of releasing the used cooling water before the opening of next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games at the latest. “In 2022, the site around the Fukushima power plants will be filled up with storage tanks where contaminated water is kept. Thus, there will be no space for extra tanks,” he said.

Regarding the South Korean government’s concerns about the release of contaminated water, the official replied that Japan has monitoring measures in place while promising to disclose all relevant information. However, he also remarked that the decision per se is within the domain of sovereignty, making it clear that Japan has no intention of discussing the issue. In response, the South Korean Foreign Affairs Ministry stated that it will demand that Japan should keep related information open and accessible at all times.
https://www.donga.com/en/article/all/20201121/2247772/1/Japanese-Embassy-implies-likelihood-of-Fukushima-releasing-contaminated-water

November 22, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan Set to Decide Timing of Fukushima Water Release As Early As This Year

Japanese embassy’s official in Seoul official refuted claims that releasing the water without securing permission from regional neighbors would be an international violation.

November 20, 2020

Japan will soon decide when to start releasing radioactive water from the disabled Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean.

An official from the Japanese Embassy in Seoul said on Friday that the timing of the water release could be finalized as early as this year.

The official said Tokyo is open to verifying the process of treating the tainted water with Seoul and to reveal the data in a transparent manner.

Tokyo projects tank storage for the tainted water will reach its maximum limit in the summer of 2022.

The treatment process – the multi-nuclide-removing Advanced Liquid Processing System(ALPS) – is unable to remove some radioactive substances, including tritium. The official, however, stressed that the tritium-containing water would still fulfill scientific safety standards.

The official refuted claims that releasing the water without securing permission from regional neighbors would be an international violation.

November 22, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Japan willing to work with S. Korea on monitoring of Fukushima water treatment: embassy official

Activists stage a campaign against Japan’s envisioned plan to discharge into the sea the contaminated water from its wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant in front of the former site of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, located in Seoul’s central Jongno district, on Nov. 9.

Nov 20, 2020

Japan is willing to work with South Korea on the monitoring of the envisioned treatment and release into the ocean of contaminated water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant, a senior embassy official said Friday.

The official’s remark comes as Tokyo is expected to soon announce its plan to gradually discharge into the sea more than 1.2 million tons of radioactive water stored in tanks since the 2011 meltdowns following an earthquake and tsunami.

Tokyo has pushed for the disposal into the Pacific Ocean, saying that the storage capacity will run out by the summer of 2022 and that it’s the most realistic and relatively harmless disposal method. But such a plan has sparked strong opposition and worries among the public in both South Korea and Japan.

“We will disclose all information if you’re interested in monitoring,” an official from the Japanese Embassy in Seoul said on condition of anonymity during a media briefing when asked if Tokyo is willing to verify the treatment process and share related data with Seoul.

Exactly how the monitoring will be carried out and shared with other countries has yet to be decided, but Tokyo intends to do it through consultations with neighboring countries, the official said.

“We are fully aware of the South Korean government’s policy and will faithfully respond to that.”

He added, though, that the actual monitoring, if decided, likely won’t take place until 2022 when the disposal process would begin in earnest.

Japan was expected to finalize the decision late last month but put off the announcement apparently due to strong opposition from the local fisheries industry.

Seoul has repeatedly called for Tokyo to provide concrete explanations as to how it will deal with the radioactive water and transparently share information related to the disposal plan.

Regarding the disclosure of related information, the embassy official stressed that the Japanese government will continue efforts to provide details so as to help dispel worries and fear harbored by South Koreans.

“We have had various occasions where we heard the opinions of many countries, including South Korea … and we’ll continue to do so. We are frequently in contact and cooperating with the South Korean government,” he said.

Environmental groups and activists, such as Greenpeace, have voiced concerns over unknown long-term effects of releasing the treated water and called for further examination.

The Tokyo Electric Power Corp., which operates the plant, says the water will be treated enough to remove all radioactive material before its release except for tritium, an element that it says is largely harmless.

Such a disposal method is also a common standard of practice already employed by other countries, according to Japanese officials. (Yonhap)

http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20201120000596

November 22, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Taiwanese protest plan to dump water from Japan nuclear plant into sea

November 19, 2020

Taipei, Nov. 19 (CNA) A group of Taiwanese staged a protest in Taipei on Thursday against a plan by the Japanese government to release more than a million tonnes of water into the ocean from the disabled Fukushima nuclear power plant, starting in 2022.

At the rally in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), some 20 supporters of the “Nuclear Go Zero” movement called on the ministry to push back, via diplomatic channels, against the Japanese government’s controversial plan.

Tsai Ya-ying (蔡雅瀅), a lawyer affiliated with the Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association in Taiwan, said at the rally that releasing “contaminated” water from the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power would pose a risk to humans who might eat the many marine species that migrate in the warm current between Taiwan and Japan.

Another protester, Tsai Chung-yueh (蔡中岳), deputy CEO of the environmental organization Citizen of the Earth, said contamination of the marine ecology could last for 30-40 years, if the water is dumped into the ocean.

The protesters are opposed to a plan announced in October by the Japanese government to start releasing more than 1 million tonnes of water from the power plant, which was the site of a major nuclear disaster in 2011 when Japan was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami.

Since then, Japan has been trying to find a way of disposing of the water that was used to cool the power plant and which has been increasing in volume due to rainwater seeping into the structure, according to international news reports.

By summer of 2022, the 1,000 huge storage tanks will reach their full capacity, and the water will be treated, diluted, and released into the Pacific Ocean over several decades, the reports said.

At a regular press briefing Thursday, MOFA spokesperson Joanne Ou (歐江安) said the Japanese government has not yet made a final decision on the issue, and MOFA will seek clarification.

She said the protesters have submitted a letter that has been passed on to the Taiwan-Japan Relations Association, which will relay their concerns to the Japanese government via Taiwan’s representative office in Tokyo.

“MOFA is also concerned about the issue, as the maritime environment, ecological conservation, and health of our citizens may be at risk,” Ou said

https://focustaiwan.tw/society/202011190015

November 22, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Release of Fukushima’s radioactive water into sea will harm entire Asia’s coasts: Indian experts

November 18, 2020

The contaminants of the massive quantities of nuclear water will include radioactive isotopes such as cesium, tritium, cobalt and carbon-12 and may take from 12 to 30 years to decay.

Japan’s decision to release radioactive contaminated water from its wrecked nuclear plant in Fukushima into the sea by 2022 has led to alarm bells ringing in India with experts warning it would set a wrong precedent and impact aquatic and human life along coastal belts of several parts of the world.

The contaminants of the massive quantities of nuclear water will include radioactive isotopes such as cesium, tritium, cobalt and carbon-12 and may take from 12 to 30 years to decay.It will destroy everything it comes in contact with almost immediately and cripple the economy related to the fishing industry and lead to a spectrum of diseases, including cancer.

“This will be the first incident of high volumes of radioactive water being released in the sea and can set a wrong precedent for others to follow. Concerns related to the environment and health are crucial for the existence of the human race. Therefore, alternative arrangements may be debated globally,” A K Singh, director general of health science at the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), told PTI.

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck off the north-eastern coast of Japan, triggering a 15-metre tsunami that damaged the 5,306 MW Fukushima nuclear plant. It is the second biggest nuclear disaster in the history of nuclear power generation after Chernobyl in 1986.

After the accident, 1.2 million tonnes of radioactive contaminated water released from the reactors in over 1,000 tanks were kept in a cordoned off large area near the Fukushima plant.

However, authorities are running out of space as the plant is to be decommissioned and the Japanese government has decided to release the radioactive contaminated water in the sea starting 2022.?

The decision to release the radioactive water was taken on October 16, 2020 after years of debate.

Singh, among the Indian government’s top nuclear health scientists, said the release of contaminated water into the ocean will directly impact human and aquatic life.

“The possibility of ingestion of tritium in humans will increase and since this isotope will distribute in all organs in humans and long.” Radioactivity monitoring in fish and other aquatic life in near vicinity (coastal areas) and drinking water will be necessary. Deposition of the radioactive elements on the rocks has also to be seen,? he said.

While Japanese authorities have said the water would be diluted before being released and it would only contain only tritium, other health experts who have been monitoring the issue said the risk involved should never be undermined.

Yudhyavir Singh, assistant professor of anaesthesia and critical care at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, said the risks will depend entirely on the amount of the contaminants present in the nuclear wastewater and their nature.

“Mostly contaminants are radioactive isotopes which include cesium, cobalt, carbon-14 and tritium. The half-life of cesium is 30 years, it will take 30 years of half of the material to decay. Also the half-life of tritium is 12 years,” he told PTI.

“All the radioactive isotopes are carcinogenic and can induce cancer on prolonged exposure. In Chernobyl, it has been seen in the rise of thyroid cancer post nuclear leakage after 20 years,” he said.

Once the water is released into the ocean, it would be advisable to move and stay away from the coastal area in the region while completely avoiding seafood, added Yudhavir Singh, who has several publications on critical care and is a renowned researcher too.

“In the past, it has been seen that radioactive material discarded in France travelled to the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans and found in the bodies of seals and Tortoises,” he said, warning that South East Asian nations will be at higher risk.

Environmentalists and several organisations, including Safecast?and Greenpeace, have urged the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the Fukushima plant, to build more storage tanks and keep the water stored.

Greenpeace claimed the water could change human DNA if consumed.

“Tritium is a beta emitter with low energy so causes damage to the DNA leading to genetic damage and affecting reproductions.” It will depend upon the radioisotopes contaminants in the water. Cesium has a half-life of 30 years and will be the last to decompose,??Yudhyavir Singh said.

The quantity of cesium in the nuclear waste water may take 180-300 years to decompose, he said.

Citing studies from the World Health Organisation, M C Misra, former director of AIIMS, Delhi, said an increase for specific cancers for certain subsets of the population inside the Fukushima Prefecture is very likely.

“A 2013 report predicts that for populations living in the most affected areas there is a 70 per cent higher risk of developing thyroid cancer for girls exposed as infants, a 7 per cent higher of leukemia in males exposed as infants, a 6 per cent higher risk of breast cancer in women and 4 per cent higher risk, overall, of developing solid cancers for females,” Misra told PTI.

Misra, who has dealt with all types of medical cases, including that of radiation, said Japan could have easily prevented the entire accident.

“The Japanese focused on the prevention principle without paying due attention to the mitigation principle as if it was sure that an accident was impossible. The power unit of the Fukushima plant was built on the basis of a design developed in 1960 and, therefore, the station was not ready for a crisis situation of the 21st century,” Misra said, citing the complexity of such situations.

https://indianexpress.com/article/world/japans-decision-to-release-fukushima-radioactive-water-into-sea-will-cause-disease-along-asian-coastal-belt-experts-7056108/

November 22, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Disposal plan all at sea?

In late October pressure appeared to be mounting on the Japanese government to decide on a method of disposal for 1.2 million tonnes of radioactive wastewater from the former nuclear plant at Fukushima Daiichi

Workers at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station work near above-ground storage tanks in 2013

11 November, 2020

As rain and groundwater continue to pour into the site – at a rate of 180m3 per day in 2019 – the volume of contaminated water is expected to reach 1.37 million tonnes by the end of 2020. The water is being stored in around 1000 tanks on the site, with existing capacity likely to be surpassed by mid-2022, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In late October, the Japanese government were preparing to approve a plan to begin discharging the contaminated water into the sea, starting in 2022 and continuing for decades. Opposition has come from fishing and farming groups in the area, neighbouring countries, and environmental groups.

A purification system is treating the water, known as the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS), and the filtering process therein is said to remove around 62 radioactive contaminants, according to an October report in NewScientist.

A report released by Greenpeace in October – Stemming the Tide 2020: The reality of the Fukushima radioactive water crisis – argues that the ALPS is flawed, and many of the dangers presented by this wastewater are being ignored. The firms operating the ALPS, Toshiba and Hitachi General Nuclear Electric (HGNE) came to the project with “practically no experience in water processing” said the report, and the ALPS’ poor performance is also likely related to a decision to exclude an alternative technology, an ion exchange system proposed by US firm Purolite, which in 2011 was seemingly shown capable of reducing concentrations of radionuclides to “non-detectable levels.”

As it stands, says the report, it looks like 72% of the water currently in storage tanks will have to be processed again – and questions remain as to how effective this will be.

The Japanese Government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which runs the site, have said the main radionuclide remaining in the wastewater is tritium, an isotope of hydrogen. Filtering will remove some but not all of this, although scientists appeared to consider its risk to marine life and the environment as relatively minor, in comments made to NewScientist. However, Greenpeace said TEPCO “continues to misrepresent and selectively ignore basic science facts on radioactive tritium.”

Key among the objections made by Greenpeace to the Government’s plan is that the ALPS was not designed to remove carbon-14, a hazardous radionuclide whose presence in the wastewater was only acknowledged by TEPCO in late August. With its long half life of 5,730 years, its presence is a far greater concern. As the report says, “once introduced into the environment carbon-14 will be delivered to local, regional and global populations for many generations.” Ongoing storage carries the risk of tank leakage, especially in an area where earthquake risk is high.

Discharge to the sea is a routine method of disposal used by nuclear facilities worldwide, according to the IAEA. But if this approach is rejected, alternative disposal plans comprise evaporating the wastewater into the air, or expanding the existing storage capacity and continuing to store the water either on land or underground.

The latter option carries the risk of tank leakage, especially in an area where earthquake risk is high. But Greenpeace said “storage is a viable option”, citing a report from a government sub-committee that appeared to understand that additional storage beyond 2022 was feasible, but had seemingly decided against it as it would take “a substantial amount of coordination and time”. In any case, delaying the beginning of any program to discharge the water into the sea until around 2035 would only delay completion of the project by around three years, until 2055, while allowing much of the tritium’s radioactivity to diminish naturally.

Greepeace’s report said the subcommittee’s preference for discharge to sea “was clearly not based on science and engineering, but on the political interest of the Japanese government and the future viability of TEPCO.”

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO claims it is running out of space to store radioactive water and simply must discharge it into the Pacific

November 10, 2020

Dilution is not the solution to pollution! Last month, thanks to local fishermen, citizen concern, and international outrage, Japan delayed plan to dump radioactively contaminated water from Fukushima Daiichi.

TEPCO claims it is running out of space to store radioactive water and simply must discharge it into the Pacific. But land [see picture] immediately adjacent to their property is EMPTY and too radioactive to be sold. Why not build more tanks there?

Source: Fairewinds Energy Education

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Brutal Truth’: Fukushima’s Radioactive Water Threatens Life Worldwide, Warns Environmental Journo

by Mohamed Elmaazi November 10, 2020

The after effects of the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant continues to be felt as Japanese authorities struggle to appropriately deal with contaminated radioactive water which, some of which is already being released into the Pacific Ocean, an environmental journalist explains.

Robert Hunziker is a widely published writer and environmental journalist whose work has been translated into multiple languages and has appeared in over 50 journals, magazines and sites worldwide.

Mr Hunziker explains to Sputnik that the Japanese power company responsible for managing the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has been “overwhelmed by the crippled nuclear reactors” and face a very difficult choice in terms of how to deal with an ever growing amount of radioactive water. He also warns that mass dumping of the contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean may well endanger human beings across the world for generations to come.

Sputnik: The Japanese government appears to have decided that they are going to dump radioactive waste from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean. Haven’t they already been doing this since the 2011 nuclear accident?

Robert Hunziker: Since 2011, TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) has managed to control most of  the flow of radioactive contaminated water, but an indeterminate amount spews into the ocean on a daily basis. In point of fact, controlling the radioactive water has been, and remains, a logistical nightmare.

For example, seawater is constantly circulated to cool the crippled reactors and turbines, where radioactivity is so high that on occasion it has disabled robotic underwater drones used to view the damage to the reactors.

Contaminated water leaks out of the reactor coolant systems and into buildings that house the reactors and turbines on a daily basis. TEPCO pumps 800 tons/day out of the reactor building basements. The 800 tons is thereafter desalinated and filtered, as much as possible, to remove radioactive caesium. Of the 800 tons, 400 tons/day is pumped back to cool the reactors and is contaminated once again. The balance of 400 tons, containing high concentrations of Stronium-90 (a deadly isotope) and tritium is pumped to a massive storage tank farm.

Additionally, groundwater flows into and out of the basements of the reactor buildings from which some contaminated water leaks out into the soil and surrounding groundwater beyond the facilities. This is contaminated water, including radioactive caesium, strontium, and tritium.

Furthermore, there have been instances of storage tanks leaking highly contaminated water.

Thus, the most direct straightforward answer to the question is: Yes, TEPCO has been dumping radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean but not as an organised plan of action, not intentionally. It happens simply because TEPCO is overwhelmed by the crippled nuclear reactors and the necessity of keeping radioactivity from literally spewing throughout the surrounding countryside.

As such, Fukushima Daiichi is a prime example of humanity’s worst nightmare come true, like the fabled China Syndrome, as one of the worst industrial accidents in history.

It remains a serious threat to this day, which is explained in more detail in my most recent article: “Dumping Fukushima’s Water into the Ocean… What Could Possibly go Wrong?”.

Sputnik: How are they justifying this policy of dumping even greater amounts of radioactive water into the Pacific?

Robert Hunziker: According to numerous sources, dumping Fukushima Daiichi’s radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean will start in 2022 and continue for decades. This approach was recommended by scientific advisers and approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The Japanese government justifies dumping the radioactive water into the ocean on the following grounds:

  • Nuclear power plants around the world routinely dilute and dump radioactive tritium-water into the ocean. (There is nothing positive about that rationale.)
  • A panel of experts advised TEPCO that dumping it into the ocean is the most “realistic option.” (Experts are readily available for anything and everything. First, pick a side to an argument, then plug-in the expert.)
  • TEPCO’s experts claim tritium, the most  prominent isotope amongst the 62 isotopes found in Fukushima Daiichi’s radioactive water, is only harmful to humans in extremely large doses, and they believe it will become relatively harmless due to massive dilution in the ocean. (That is speculation and most likely not entirely true.)
  • The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) approves it. (Hmm)

However, many scientists claim tritium, as well as other radionuclides, will never be completely removed from the water in storage tanks, certainly not enough to satisfy the scrutiny of critics. The brutal truth is that dangerous radionuclides, like strontium-90 and iodine-129, will most likely not be completely removed, contrary to claims by TEPCO. 

Furthermore, and of major concern, proper monitoring by independent third parties will likely be a virtual nightmare. To date, the Japanese government has not indicated it will allow independent testing of treated water. Alas, this attitude creates suspicion within the ranks of critics throughout the world.

Meanwhile, according to a recent article by the International Atomic Energy Agency – “IAEA Reviews Management of Water Stored at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station”:

“Once the Government of Japan has decided on its preferred disposition option, the IAEA is ready to work with Japan to provide radiation safety assistance before, during and after the disposition.”

However, isn’t that like letting the fox into the hen house to check security and safety?

Sputnik: Would they be dumping radioactive waste into the ocean anyway, even without the accident, or is this a direct consequence of the disaster following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami?

Robert Hunziker: It is a direct consequence of the 2011 meltdown. Along those lines, it is important to note that ocean disposal of nuclear/radioactive waste has been banned via international treaties, e.g., The London Convention bans dumping radioactive waste in the seas.

However, there are loopholes, which clever lawyers use to abuse the true spirit behind treaties. In the case of the London Convention (Japan is a signatory) it does include a special provision banning radioactive waste, but the stated “ban at dumping at sea” covers dumping from “vessels, aircraft, and other manmade structures at sea”. However, Fukushima is a land-based discharge. This inconspicuous loophole in language provides weird (questionable) comfort to Fukushima Daiichi to violate the ban on dumping radioactive waste at sea.

Nevertheless, on a strict morality basis, and as importantly, for worldwide opinion purposes, banning should be honoured whether from sea or land so as not to compromise the spirit of the treaty, meaning, no radioactive waste should ever be dumped into the ocean. Why else draft the treaty in the first instance?

Sputnik: According to a report given to the IAEA by Japan, analysis by the power company of sea and groundwater shows “confirm that the radiation level of sampled water is substantially below the operational targets set by TEPCO”. How do you respond to this? Isn’t it possible that the level of radioactive discharge being released will simply be diluted by the ocean and won’t dangerously contaminate sea life and the food chain?

Robert Hunziker: That is questionable. It is very probable that the discharge will not be effectively diluted in ocean water. Rather, the ocean will simply carry radioactive ingredients to the shorelines of other countries.

According to knowledgeable sources with boots on the ground in Japan, leaked internal TEPCO documents have shown that efforts to reduce radionuclides to non-detect levels have not entirely eliminated numerous radioactive elements, including iodine, ruthenium, rhodium, antimony, tellurium, cobalt and strontium. These are deadly isotopes. (Source: Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist for Greenpeace).

Regardless, at the end of the day, TEPCO has publicly stated it will dump “radioactive wastewater in the ocean”. It is their stated intention. They claim that tritium, the main remaining radionuclide after processing, will dilute, emphasising the fact that it is relatively harmless to humans.

This posturing by TEPCO is where the “rubber meets the road”, splitting world opinion into two opposing or warring camps.

On the one hand, advocates of dumping can be found throughout the internet, for example in articles in Forbes magazine, claiming that dumping the contaminated water in the ocean is the only reasonable answer, assuming that it will be diluted enough, especially with the majority of the remaining isotopes, tritium, relatively weak and deemed to be relatively harmless.

The opposing camp, e.g., fishing interests, neighbouring countries like South Korea and China, and environmentalists, do not agree that the ocean is a universal dumping ground, especially for radioactive water.

After all, even assuming that TEPCO is able to remove the most dangerous isotopes, like Stronium-90, leaving only tritium, similar to all radioactive substances, tritium is:

(1) a carcinogen (causes cancer),

(2) a mutagen (causes genetic mutation) and

(3) a teratogen (causes malformation of an embryo).

This is indisputable medical fact.

Moreover, it takes years and years for the damage of radioactivity to show up in human bodies. That is how nuclear power advocates get a “free ride”. It takes years and decades before the true impact of radioactive isotopes are fully recognised in humanoids.

Chernobyl is a prime example of this latent impact of radioactive exposure, to wit:

A BBC special report, “The True Toll of the Chernobyl Disaster,” dated July 26 2019 explains: “The official, internationally recognised death toll, just 31 people died as an immediate result of Chernobyl while the UN estimates that only 50 deaths can be directly attributed to the disaster.” Keep those two numbers of deaths, 31 and 50, in mind while reading ahead.

According to that same BBC article, the Russian Academy of Sciences said as many as 112,000-125,000 Chernobyl victims died by 2005, not 50 or 31 deaths. Therefore, the real death count is 2,500 times more than the official report by the UN. As it happens, radiation takes its merry ole time blasting, destroying, and/or altering human cell structure before it shows up as chronic illness or death.

Moreover, in the BBC article, Ukrainian authorities claimed death rates of Chernobyl cleanup workers rose from 3.5 to 17.5 deaths per 1,000 over 24 years from 1988 to 2012 on a database of 651,453 cleanup workers. That equates to another 11,392 deaths, not 31 or 50 deaths.

Moreover, Belarus had 99,693 cleanup workers, which equals another 1,732 deaths, once again, not 31 or 50 deaths. 

Furthermore, disability amongst workers on Chernobyl showed 5 per cent of workers were still healthy in 2012, meaning 95 per cent unhealthy, with commonality of cardiovascular and circulatory diseases and nervous system issues.

By 2008, in Belarus alone, 40,049 “liquidators” Chernobyl cleanup workers registered cancer illnesses.

Viktor Sushko, deputy director general of the National Research Centre for Radiation Medicine based in Kiev, Ukraine, described the Chernobyl disaster as: “The largest anthropogenic disaster in the history of humankind”. That is not an overstatement. It is true.

“As of January 2018, 1.8 million people in Ukraine, including 377,589 children, were considered victims of the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown, according to Dr. Sushko. Not only that, there was a rapid increase in the number of people with disabilities, rising from 40,106 in 1995 to 107,115 in 2018.” 

For further evidence of the latent impact of exposure to radioactive isotopes, and a good reason not to dump radioactive substances into the ocean, according to a USA Today article in 2016: “Chernobyl’s Legacy: Kids With Bodies Ravaged by Disaster”:

“There are 2,397,863 people registered with Ukraine’s health ministry to receive ongoing Chernobyl-related health care. Of these, 453,391 are children — none born at the time of the accident. Their parents were children in 1986. These children have a range of illnesses: respiratory, digestive, musculoskeletal, eye diseases, blood diseases, cancer, congenital malformations, genetic abnormalities, trauma.”

Many of the children are hidden away deep in the forested countryside in orphanages in Belarus.

All of which supports the viewpoint that radioactive contaminated water should never be dumped into the ocean.

TEPCO and their experts say tritium is not necessarily dangerous, assuming enough dilution of the isotope; however, there is evidence to suggest beta particles emitted by tritium are more effective at causing cancer than high-energy radiation such as gamma rays. Low-energy electrons (tritium) produce a greater impact because they don’t have the energy to spread impact. At the end of its atomic-scale trip it delivers most of its ionising energy in one relatively confined track rather than shedding energy along its path like higher-energy particles. This is known as “density of ionisation.” As such, scientists say any amount of radiation poses a health risk. 

In the final analysis, radioactive isotopes accumulate in living tissue, whether fish or human, and over time disrupt DNA and alter genes to the extent that chronic illnesses overwhelm functionality, as such, given enough time, malformation and/or death ensues. As discussed previously, examples of that happening in the aftermath of Chernobyl are far-reaching. One can only conclude that any amount of tritium dumped into the ocean will become part of the “accumulation process” within living creatures.

Further to the point, dumping Fukushima Daiichi’s contaminated water into the ocean will likely result in the worst PR stunt ever committed by a major nation/state, the worst since human writing started 5,000 years ago.

Sputnik: What realistic alternatives are there to releasing this waste into the Pacific?

Robert Hunziker: At the end of the day, there are no good alternatives. Radioactive isotopes simply do not go away until decay sets in for years and sometimes decades and sometimes centuries. 

Some suggested alternatives include evaporating the water into the atmosphere or mixing it into concrete and storing it underground. Neither alternative has been pursued for various unstated reasons.

Environmentalists, and scientists, suggest building as many storage tanks as required and suffer the consequences within Japan, not the world.

After all, the world community did not choose to build one of the world’s largest nuclear facilities on the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean in a country sitting on top of the infamous volcanic zone known as the Pacific Ring of Fire, the most active earthquake belt in the world. It’s why Japan experiences 1,500 earthquakes per year, proving the validity of the saying, “think before you design/build”.

Sputnik: Does Japan have a plausible alternative to continuing to make use of nuclear power?

Robert Hunziker: Of course they have alternatives to nuclear power, as do most countries of the world. More to the point, they’ve gotten along just fine since 2011, almost a full decade, without nuclear power, other than a recent startup of a plant or two. Japan should send a delegation to Norway, which produces 98 per cent of its energy from renewables or to Iceland, which is a world leader in renewable energy. It’s an island, same as Japan.

Seven countries are at, or very nearly, 100 per cent renewable power, to wit: Iceland, Paraguay, Costa Rica, Norway, Austria, Brazil, and Denmark. Japan needs to explore the world. Solutions are already at work and fully operational for all to see in the field.

https://sputniknews.com/analysis/202011101081117097-brutal-truth-fukushimas-radioactive-water-threatens-life-worldwide-warns-environmental-journo/?fbclid=IwAR006CaM_AuyEnqXiip31zBFRnzyP6HDQYWpBz8btTYJa1P0oQa0-_hbkcs

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Taiwan to talk to Japan on radioactive wastewater discharge

November 9, 2020

Taipei, Nov. 9 (CNA) Taiwan’s Atomic Energy Council said Monday it will continue to contact Japan on how the country plans to deal with contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which is expected to run out of storage space in 2022.

The power plant has been shut down since it experienced a nuclear meltdown in 2011 after Japan was hit by a massive tsunami and earthquake, and it currently stores more than 1 million cubic meters of water containing tritium, a radioactive variant of hydrogen.

Tritium cannot be removed from water with existing technology, but because it poses a relatively low risk to human health, it is common for nuclear plants to dump water with tritium into the ocean after diluting it.

The Fukushima plant’s plan to dump its stored water that way has received pushback from people who live in the region, especially fishermen, who fear that it will damage the region’s reputation, according to local media reports.

Another option is to evaporate the wastewater into the air, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In August 2019, the company that runs the power plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., announced that storage space for the contaminated water would run out in 2022.

This issue was brought up in Taiwan on Monday by Legislator Wu Szu-yao (吳思瑤) from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, who asked the Atomic Energy Council to come up with contingency plans.

In response, the council said that the Japanese government has not yet decided when and how it will deal with the wastewater.

The council reached out to the Japanese government in September 2019 and March 2020 to ask about the situation and remind Japan to share timely information about the situation in accordance with a memorandum signed between the two countries in 2014.

It said it will keep in contact with Japan to obtain necessary information.

The council has also conducted tests to monitor the level of tritium in Taiwan’s surrounding waters and found that current levels are normal, it said.

(By Fan Cheng-hsiang and Chiang Yi-ching)

https://focustaiwan.tw/society/202011090021

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Korean Ministry calls for IAEA efforts to ensure Japan’s transparent handling of Fukushima treated water

Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s department of safeguard Massimo Aparo waves his hand as he walks into the conference hall in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’s building in Seoul, Tuesday.

November 5, 2020

Korea called Tuesday for the U.N. nuclear watchdog to play an “active” role in ensuring Japan’s transparent and safe handling of contaminated water from its crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, the foreign ministry said.

Ham Sang-wook, deputy foreign minister for multilateral and global affairs, made the call during an annual policy consultation with Massimo Aparo, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s department of safeguards.

“On the occasion of this consultation, our side stressed the contaminated water issue is a crucial matter that can affect the safety and environment of Japan’s neighboring countries and of the entire international community,” the ministry said in a press release.

“It asked the IAEA to play an active role in terms of securing transparency and verifying the safety in all processes of the Japanese government crafting measures to dispose of the water and disposing of it,” it added.

Amid public concerns over Japan’s possible discharge of the radioactive water into the sea, Seoul has repeatedly called for Tokyo to transparently share related information and stressed its “foremost priority” on the safety of citizens.

Last month, Tokyo was expected to finalize its plan to dispose of the tritium-laced water. But it apparently postponed an announcement on its decision amid strong protests.

At Tuesday’s talks, the ministry and the U.N. agency also discussed cooperation in strengthening readiness to monitor and verify North Korea’s nuclear activity. (Yonhap)

https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2020/11/356_298715.html

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , , | Leave a comment

‘South Korea Considers Joining IAEA Monitoring of Fukushima Discharge Plan’

November 4, 2020

Presidential chief of staff Noh Young-min said South Korea is considering joining the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s monitoring of Japan’s reported plan to release radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea. 

In a parliamentary audit Wednesday, Noh said Japan is expected to request reliable international agencies such as the IAEA to play a role in securing global trust in the process. 

He said the Seoul government has consistently asked Japan to transparently disclose information and maintain sufficient communication and consultations with the international community.

He said a task force set up within the presidential office continues to monitor the issue and discuss countermeasures.

Meanwhile the chief of staff said the top office was cooperating with calls to submit records related to the prosecution’s investigation into hedge fund fraud scandals involving Lime and Optimus asset management, adding that some records have already been submitted.

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan faces another Fukushima disaster crisis

Collecting sea water samples near the damaged Fukushima nuclear power station.

November 3rd, 2020, by Paul Brown

A plan to dump a million tonnes of radioactive water from the Fukushima disaster off Japan is alarming local people.

LONDON, 3 November, 2020 − The Japanese government has an unsolvable problem: what to do with more than a million tonnes of water contaminated with radioactive tritium, in store since the Fukushima disaster and growing at more than 150 tonnes a day.

The water, contained in a thousand giant tanks, has been steadily accumulating since the nuclear accident in 2011. It has been used to cool the three reactors that suffered a meltdown as a result of the tsunami that hit the coast.

Tritium is a radioactive element produced as a by-product by nuclear reactors under normal operation, and is present everywhere in the fabric of the reactor buildings, so water used for cooling them is bound to be contaminated by it.

To avoid another potentially catastrophic meltdown in the remaining fuel the cooling has to continue indefinitely, so the problem continues to worsen. The government has been told that Japan will run out of storage tanks by 2022.

Announcement delayed

As often happens when governments are faced with difficult problems, the unpalatable decision to release the contaminated water into the sea has not been formally announced, but the intention of the government to take this course has been leaked and so widely reported.

Immediately both local and worldwide adverse reaction has resulted. There are the direct effects on the local fishermen who fear that no one will want to buy their catch, but over a wider area the health effects are the main concern.

As ever with the nuclear industry, there are two widely different views on tritium. The Health Physics Society says it is a mildly radioactive element that is present everywhere, and doubts that people will be affected by it. But the Nuclear Information and Resource Service believes tritium is far more dangerous and increases the likelihood of cancers, birth defects and genetic disorders.

The issue is further complicated because the Fukushima wastewater contains a number of other radionuclides, not in such high quantities, but sufficient to cause damage. Ian Fairlie, an independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment, is extremely concerned about Japan’s plans and the health of the local people.

“Ten half-lives for tritium is 123 years: that’s how long these tanks will have to last – at least. This will allow time also for politicians to reflect on the wisdom of their support for nuclear power”

In a detailed assessment of the situation he says other highly dangerous radioactive substances, including caesium-137 and strontium-90, are also in the water stored at Fukushima.

They are in lower quantities than the tritium, he says, but still unacceptably high – up to 100 times above the legally permitted limit. All these radionuclides decay over time − some take thousands of years − but tritium decays faster, the danger from it halving every 12.3 years.

In a briefing for the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA), a UK based organisation, another independent analyst, Tim Deere-Jones, discusses research that shows that tritium binds with organic material in plants and animals.

This is potentially highly damaging to human health because it travels up the food chain in the marine environment, specifically accumulating in fish. This means fish-eating communities on the Japanese coast could ingest much larger quantities of tritium than some physicists think likely.

Relying on dilution

Tim Deere-Jones is also concerned that the tritium will be blown inshore on the prevailing wind in sea spray and will bio-accumulate in food plants, making it risky to eat crops as far as ten miles inland. Because of the potential dangers of releasing the water the NFLA has asked the Japanese government to reconsider its decision.

The government has not yet responded though, because officially it is still considering what to do. However, it is likely to argue that pumping the contaminated water into the sea is acceptable because it will be diluted millions of times, and anyway seawater does already contain minute quantities of tritium.

Dr Fairlie is among many who think this is too dangerous, but he admits there are no easy solutions.

He says: “Barring a miraculous technical discovery which is unlikely, I think TEPCO/Japanese Gov’t [TEPCO is the Tokyo Electric Power Company, owner of the Fukushima Daiichi plant]  will have to buy more land and keep on building more holding tanks to allow for tritium decay to take place. Ten half-lives for tritium is 123 years: that’s how long these tanks will have to last – at least.

“This will allow time not only for tritium to decay, but also for politicians to reflect on the wisdom of their support for nuclear power.” − Climate News Network

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Fishers and farmers fear impact of Fukushima water release

Storage tanks holding water contaminated with radioactive tritium at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in 2019

October 30, 2020

Fishermen and farmers in Fukushima Prefecture have voiced concern about the risk of further harmful rumors about produce from the area if the government allows Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (Tepco), the operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, to release water contaminated with radioactive tritium into the Pacific Ocean.

The government is in the final stages of giving the green light to release the radioactive water accumulating at the plant into the sea.

Nearly 10 years after the triple meltdowns at the nuclear power plant in March 2011, prices for agricultural and fisheries products from the prefecture haven’t fully recovered.

Some producers are still struggling to get retailers to buy their produce. They are concerned that if the government cannot set out detailed measures to tackle the reputational damage, they will need to start all over again from scratch.

“It’s unprecedented, and it’s hard to predict how much and how long it will last,” said deputy trade minister Kiyoshi Ejima, who heads a government task force on nuclear disasters, in an interview, regarding the harmful rumors. “We can’t offer a comprehensive (aid) package at this point of time.”

The government is expected to offer measures of support for the farm and fisheries industries, conduct public information campaigns based on science and compensate for damages as a result of releasing the water into the sea.

But it appears the government has not set out a detailed approach for how it plans to tackle any reputational damage caused by the release.

Since the 2011 disaster, the prefecture’s fisheries cooperative has only been able to conduct experimental fishing on limited days, with restrictions on the areas fished.

It is planning to move to full-scale fishing in April, with all 43 types of fish approved to be shipped.

“What we have been working on will be all for nothing,” said Toshimi Suzuki, 67, who belongs to a cooperative for sea urchin and abalone fishing in the city of Iwaki that is urging the government to decide against releasing the tritium-laced water into the sea. “I want them to listen to the voices of fishermen who are still struggling due to harmful rumors before deciding what measures to take.”

Farmers are also worried.

“If the waters are released when people at home and abroad aren’t adequately informed that it’s safe, based on science, harmful rumors will spread again,” said Yasuaki Kato, 44, a farmer who produces rice and apples.

When Kato worked to promote the safety of Fukushima-made produce in Tokyo, he felt it was extremely difficult to gain the understanding of people from outside Fukushima Prefecture.

“If people don’t understand the safety of the produce and how it has been made, it won’t have a price tag equivalent to what it’s worth,” Kato said.

In northern Fukushima Prefecture, fruit farmers were hit by heavy rain last year, after Typhoon Hagibis swept through the region, and were significantly affected by plant disease this year. Koji Suzuki, 69, who harvests peaches and persimmons in the town of Kunimi, says he was only able to harvest about 40% of his fruit compared to normal years.

He is afraid prices that plummeted after the meltdowns will once again drop.

“I want (the government) to propose measures on what it will do when consumers avoid produce from Fukushima,” Suzuki said.

This section features topics and issues covered by the Fukushima Minpo, the prefecture’s largest newspaper. The original article was published Oct. 21.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/10/30/national/fishers-farmers-fukushima-radioactive-water/

November 2, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment