Japan begins to release treated radioactive water into Pacific Ocean
Japan started releasing treated radioactive water from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster into the Pacific Ocean on Thursday.
Activists gathered to protest the controversial move that has sparked import bans on Japanese seafood in Asia.
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has been storing millions of tons of radioactive water in metal tanks since an earthquake tsunami caused one of the worst nuclear disasters in history.
TEPCO says the Fukushima water has been purified of radioactive elements through sophisticated filters. But the public isn’t convinced Japan’s release of the treated Fukushima water will prove safe for the food chain.
One radioactive element, tritium, that remains in the Fukushima water is causing concern. Tritium has a half-life of 12.5 years, and loses its radioactivity over time. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said the impact the release of the water will have on people and the environment will be “negligible.”
The release will take 17 days and has raised alarms internationally and outraged fishermen.
China has announced an immediate blanket ban on all aquatic products from Japan.
South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said that import bans on Fukushima fisheries will stay in place until public concerns were eased.
The release is estimated to take about 30 years.
Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said his government will take ‘all possible measures’ to ensure the water release does not impact the fishing industry.