FUKUSHIMA WASTEWATER DISPOSAL PLAN RAISES CONCERNS FOR NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES
On April 13, the Japanese government announced its decision to release wastewater from its infamous Fukushima nuclear facility into the Pacific Ocean. The plan would authorize the release of over 1.24 million tons of treated but still radioactive water (US News and World Report). Officials from China and South Koreahave been quick to voice their disapproval, citing serious risks to the health of their citizens and fishing and agriculture industries (Reuters and Reuters).
Despite outcry from health officials, industry experts, and environmentalists, the Japanese government has stated that their waste disposal plans do not pose significant risk to human or aquatic life. The government plans to treat the wastewater before dumping it, reducing the presence of most radioactive materials to levels safe for human exposure. However, they have also stated that they will be unable to remove the radionuclide, tritium. Though the material is not harmful in small amounts, scientists are unsure how such a high volume of tritium water may affect marine life in the long term (US News and World Report).
The decision has been met with strong opposition. Japan’s fishing industry has been a vocal opponent of the dumping plan for several years. Protestors in South Korea demonstrated in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, prompting South Korean President Moon Jae-in to explore opportunities for legal action and consider referring Japan to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (Reuters and Al Jazeera). China has likewise censured the decision, stating they “reserve the right to respond further” as the situation develops (South China Morning Post).