Japan announced it will release more than 1m tonnes (more than 264 million gallons) of contaminated water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea. Just more than 10 years ago, the Fukushima nuclear plant experienced a meltdown resulting from an earthquake and an ensuing tsunami that heavily damaged the facility. The prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, told a meeting of ministers on Tuesday that the government had decided that releasing the water into the Pacific Ocean was the “most realistic” option. The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power [Tepco], and government officials say tritium, a radioactive material that is not harmful in small amounts, cannot be removed from the water, but other radionuclides can be reduced to levels allowed for release. Work to release the diluted water will begin in about two years but the entire process will take decades. China denounced the plan as “extremely irresponsible.” „It will seriously damage international public health and safety and the vital interests of the people of neighbouring countries,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.
South Korea “firmly opposes” the action. Greenpeace Japan said it “strongly condemned” the water’s release. “The government has taken the wholly unjustified decision to deliberately contaminate the Pacific Ocean with radioactive waste.” The radioactive water, which increases in quantity by about 140 tonnes a day, is now being stored in more than 1,000 tanks, and space at the site is expected to run out around next autumn. The International Atomic Energy Agency supports the decision. “There is consensus among scientists that the impact on health is minuscule,” Michiaki Kai, an expert on radiation risk assessment at Japan’s Oita University of Nursing and Health Sciences, told media.