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The head of the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations, or Zengyoren, has voiced strong opposition against releasing treated water containing radioactive tritium from the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant into the sea.

“We are absolutely against ocean release” as a way to dispose of tainted water at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s nuclear plant in Fukushima Prefecture, Hiroshi Kishi, head of Zengyoren, said Thursday at a government hearing in Tokyo.

Kishi said that fishermen who are operating along the coast of Fukushima have been suffering from problems caused by the radioactive fallout from the 2011 meltdowns at the plant, such as fishing restrictions, as well as malicious rumors about the safety of farm and marine products there.

If the government chooses to release radioactive water into the sea, a leading option to get rid of accumulating low-level radioactive water at the plant, it will trash all efforts fishermen have so far made to sweep away such rumors and consequently “will have a devastating impact on the future of Japan’s fishing industry,” Kishi stressed.

Toshihito Ono, head of the prefecture’s fishery product processors association, who joined the hearing via a video call, warned that Fukushima’s processed marine products, including products that use ingredients from other prefectures, will become targets of harmful rumors.

In a report released in February, a government panel pointed out that a realistic option would be releasing the tainted water into the ocean after dilution or into the air through evaporation.

Many people fear that both methods will add to the reputational damage suffered by Fukushima products. But treated water storage at the power plant is expected to reach full capacity as early as autumn 2022.

After the hearing, state industry minister Kiyoshi Ejima told reporters, “We find it unadvisable to put off a decision on how to dispose of the water because not much room is left at the plant for tanks containing the water.”

This was probably the last hearing on the water issue, people familiar with the matter said.

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