Japan will start releasing more than 1 million metric tons of treated radioactive water from its destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean in two years, the government said Tuesday — a plan that faces opposition at home and has raised “grave concern” in neighboring countries.
The decision to release the wastewater comes more than a decade after the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in 2011, having been repeatedly delayed due to safety concerns and strong opposition from local fishermen still reeling from the fallout of the crisis.
Work to release the water into the Pacific Ocean will begin in about two years, and the whole process is expected to take decades, according to the Japanese government.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said dealing with the treated water is “an unavoidable issue” in order to decommission the nuclear plant.
Japan’s safety assurances have failed to assuage the fears of its neighbors South Korea and China.
South Korea voiced “grave concerns” at Japan’s water release plan, saying the decision could “directly or indirectly affect the safety of the Korean people and the surrounding environment in the future.”
China has also expressed “grave concern,” calling on Japan to handle the wastewater release “in a responsible manner” while The United States, meanwhile, showed support for its ally’s decision.
The operation is therefore raising a great deal of criticism. First of all from countries that feel directly involved in the risk of contamination. They consider the decision unilateral and irresponsible, they are asking to be part of consultations that have never been made and have expressed their opposition.
The opposition of public opinion, ecological movements, the fishing industry and representatives of local agriculture will be in vain. All associations have expressed serious doubts, in particular Greenpeace, which since the seventies has aimed at the effects of nuclear energy.