The Japanese government, on Tuesday, said that it will start discharging over 1 million metric tons of treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea, starting Thursday, the 24th of August.
The proposal, which the Japanese government authorized two years ago as essential to decommissioning the plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) (9501.T), has come under fire from local fishing organizations worried about reputational harm, along with China who has also been harshly critical of the plan.
Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, said. “I expect the water release to start on August 24, weather conditions permitting.”
The announcement comes a day after the administration claimed to have gained “a degree of understanding” from the fishing sector about the discharge of the water into the Pacific Ocean, despite the fact that fishing groups claimed they still worried the reputational harm would endanger their livelihood.
According to Tepco, the water will be discharged for the first time on Thursday in a total volume of 7,800 cubic meters over the course of about 17 days, in small amounts and with extra inspections.
According to Tepco, the tritium content of that water will be around 190 becquerels (radioactivity units) per litre, which is less than the 10,000 becquerels per litre drinking water limit set by the World Health Organization.
The discharge of water is secure, according to Japan. The proposal was also approved in July by the U.N. nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which said that it complied with international standards and would have “negligible” effects on people and the environment.
The poll conducted by the Japanese broadcast network FNN over the weekend found that 37% of participants opposed the discharge of the water, while 56% indicated they agreed with it.
An NGO worker, Hiroko Hashimoto, said, “The IAEA and many other countries have said it’s safe, so I believe it is. But fishermen are facing so many problems so the Japanese government needs to do something to convince them.”
However, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin said that the decision is “extremely selfish”, saying that China was deeply concerned about the decision and had lodged a formal complaint.
John Lee, Hong Kong Chief Executive, described the discharge as “irresponsible” and said that the city will “immediately activate” import restrictions on Japanese seafood from the Fukushima region and other areas, including the capital Tokyo, beginning on Thursday.
The restriction, which will also take effect in Macau, will apply to live, frozen, chilled, and dried seafood as well as to sea salt and seaweed.