Japan plans to release the treated water from Fukushima into the sea in the spring or summer

The government of Japan announced today that the discharge into the sea of ​​contaminated and treated water that accumulates at the Fukushima nuclear power plant will take place between next spring and summer, despite the opposition of local fishermen.

The Executive approved on Friday a revised plan for the spill, which also provides compensation for the fishing sector that could be affected by the measure, against which neighboring countries such as South Korea and China have also protested.

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The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is overseeing Japan’s plan to dump water once it has been treated to remove most of the radioactive elements, and will send a mission to Japan next week – the fourth of its kind – to discuss preparations on land.

“Before proceeding with the spill, we will wait for the IAEA to issue its general report, strengthen oversight functions, take measures to support the sale of the affected area’s products, and work against the spread of negative rumors,” he said today. the minister. executive spokesperson, Hirokazu Matsunoafter the Council of Ministers in which the new plan was approved.

The Pacific discharge is expected to occur “subject to the completion of the discharge work” and “the investigation by Japan’s nuclear regulator, as well as the IAEA report,” according to the spokesman, who estimated the specific date will be between spring and summer of this year.

The Japanese authorities and the operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), had initially planned to proceed with the spill in April, although this date has been postponed due to delays in the construction of an underwater tunnel that will will use to discharge water from the plant one kilometer from the coast.

This is water contaminated with radioactive waste after being used to cool reactors or filtered inside nuclear plants, of which about 1.29 million cubic meters are stored in drums inside atomic plants damaged by the earthquake and tsunami of 2011 where space runs out.

After analyzing with a scientific panel a series of possible solutions of enormous technical complexity, including methods of evaporation or underground injection, the Japanese authorities and TEPCO have decided to discharge all the liquid accumulated in the sea in front of the plant after having subjected it to treatment decontaminant. .

The water is treated with a treatment system that eliminates most of the radioactive materials deemed dangerous, with the exception of tritium, a naturally occurring isotope, albeit in low concentrations.

Japanese authorities say the discharge will have levels of radioactivity below the limit set by the World Health Organization for drinking water, and therefore pose no risk to human health or the environment.

However, the plan still faces opposition from local fishing organisations, whose businesses have only just recovered after the 2011 nuclear disaster, and who fear that the stigma attached to the area’s fish and shellfish will be worsened by the spill.

“We would like to fully explain the measures to the fishing community and other stakeholders as we listen to their concerns,” Matsuno said.

“I think the situation is not well understood by the local people, so we want to explain it well, taking into account their fears and concerns to reach the understanding of as many people as possible,” said the president of TEPCO, for his part. Tomoaki Kobayakawain statements at the end of the aforementioned meeting, which he also attended.

The plan provides for an item of 50,000 million yen (357 million euros) in aid to the fishing industry on the coasts near the plant to compensate for the “damage to its reputation” resulting from the spill.

Areas near the Fukushima Daiichi plant are still suffering the devastating consequences of the 2011 nuclear accident, including tens of thousands of people still being displaced or the collapse of local fishing, ranching and agriculture.

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