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Japanese fishermen speak out against releasing wastewater from Fukushima

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that the discharge of water that was used to cool the reactors at the plant would begin on August 24

TOKYO, August 22. /TASS/. Fishermen from the Japanese prefecture of Fukushima will continue opposing Japan’s decision to dump radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima 1 nuclear power plant into the ocean, starting on August 24, the head of an industry association told Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura at a meeting in Iwaki.

"Although you approved the [water] discharge decision at a Cabinet meeting, we will continue protesting against this process," NHK quoted Tetsu Nozaki as saying. In response, Nishimura emphasized that Japanese officials could no longer postpone releasing the water as he called on Fukushima fishermen to understand.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said earlier that the discharge of water that was used to cool the reactors at the plant would begin on August 24, barring any obstacles in terms of the weather or sea conditions. According to Kyodo, in the 2023 fiscal year (ending on March 31, 2024) as much as 31.2 metric tons of wastewater will be released into the ocean. The overall concentration of tritium in it would be about 5 trillion becquerels.

In March 2011, a tsunami caused damage to power supply and cooling systems at the Fukushima 1 nuclear power plant, which caused a nuclear fuel meltdown in three reactors, accompanied by explosions and the emission of radiation into the atmosphere. Vast territories were contaminated, forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people. The reactors used water for cooling, and storing this water has become problematic due to its large volume — over 1,25 million tons. In April, 2021, the Japanese government authorized the discharge of a large amount of this water, which is said to be mostly cleared of radioactive substances, but still contains tritium — a radioactive hydrogen isotope.

Tokyo Electric Power underscored that the tritium content in the water is being brought to one fortieth of the minimum allowable standard set by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) and the government of Japan, and one seventh of the level allowed by the World Health Organization for drinking water. Despite this, Tokyo’s plans have drawn sharp criticism from a number of countries, mainly, Russia and China. Japan plans to discharge the water in stages over a 30-year period. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) intends to monitor the process on a continuous basis. In the past few years, IAEA specialists have carried out several inspections at the nuclear facility.