Government says waste water, used to cool reactors after March 2011 Tsunami, no longer poses danger. Local fishermen, environmental groups, neighboring states and the Catholic Church are opposed. The US and the International Atomic Energy Agency support the disposal plan.
Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) – The Japanese government today announced its intention to dump the radioactive waters of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, damaged 10 years ago by a tsunami, into the sea.
Authorities claim that the millions of tons of liquids used to cool the atomic reactors during no longer pose a safety and health hazard. However, the decision has been met with firm opposition from local fishermen, environmental groups, neighboring states and the Japanese Bishops’ Conference.
On 11 March 2011, the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan devastated the northeastern coast of the country. The tsunami caused by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake killed 18 thousand people and destroyed entire cities. The catastrophe forced half a million residents to flee their homes.
The Fukushima disaster is rated 7th in severity levels by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the highest ever observed along with the 1986 Chernobyl (Soviet Union) disaster. Official estimates say it will take 40 years to rebuild and reclaim the land, at a cost of trillions of yen.
The disposal process will begin in two years; the released waters will be significantly diluted through an advanced system called Alps. It allows the most radioactive elements, such as strontium and cesium, to be removed from contaminated liquids.
Premier Yoshihide Suga said the operation will be conducted in a way that protects the local fishing industry. Tepco, the company that manages the Fukushima plant, will be obliged to pay compensation if Japanese fishermen suffer damage. However, for the national fisheries federation maintain that disposal at sea is “unacceptable”.
Tokyo also faces opposition from neighboring countries. China said Suga’s move was “irresponsible”; Taiwan and South Korea also say they are against it. The Japanese executive has received the support of the US and the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to which the plan for the release of contaminated water “has a solid scientific basis and is in line with the standard practices followed by the atomic industry in all the world”.