• Kyodo


The government Monday held a briefing session for embassy officials from nearly two dozen countries on the merits of a plan to release tritium-tainted water from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant into the ocean.

A session was held at the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo, and offered an update on the planned disposal of more than 1 million tons of water that have been treated and kept in tanks at the crippled complex, where storage space is quickly running out.

Releasing the water into the Pacific Ocean and evaporating it are both “feasible methods,” the government explained, noting that there are precedents for the two approaches both within and outside of Japan.

At the session, officials from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry emphasized that releasing the water at sea, in particular, could be carried out “with certainty,” because monitoring radiation levels would be easier to do.

Tokyo has said that the health risks to humans would be “significantly small,” arguing that discharging the water over a year would amount to between just 1/40,000 to 1/1,600 of the radiation levels to which humans are naturally exposed annually.

But the discharge could cause reputational damage to the fishing and farming industries in surrounding areas, raising the need for countermeasures, the government said in the briefing.

The event followed submission Friday by the industry ministry of a draft report on the disposal methods to a subcommittee focused on the issue.

About 170 tons of water is contaminated every day at the Fukushima plant as it is poured onto the wreckage to cool the melted fuel that remains on-site or as it passes through the complex as groundwater.

The contaminated water is purified using an advanced liquid processing system, or ALPS, although the process does not remove tritium and has been found to leave small amounts of other radioactive materials.

Tanks used to store the treated water are expected to reach capacity by summer 2022.

Local fishermen have voiced opposition to releasing the water into the ocean out of fears that consumers would stop buying seafood caught nearby.

Neighboring countries, including South Korea, which currently bans seafood imports from the area, have also expressed unease.

But no embassy officials voiced such concerns at Monday’s briefing, according to the industry ministry.

The briefing was attended by 28 embassy officials from 23 countries and regions — Afghanistan, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Cyprus, East Timor, France, Germany, Italy, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Moldova, Panama, Russia, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, the European Union and the U.K.

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