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Third Batch of Treated Radioactive Wastewater Released from Fukushima Nuclear Plant Amid Ongoing Concerns

by Anna

The operator of Japan’s damaged Fukushima nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO), has successfully completed the release of a third batch of treated radioactive wastewater into the Pacific Ocean, according to the company’s announcement on Monday. The release, which began on August 24, is part of a long-term process to address the large amounts of radioactive wastewater accumulated at the nuclear plant since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

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The treated and diluted wastewater is discharged into the ocean after meeting legally releasable standards, and TEPCO claims the process is safe. However, the releases have faced strong opposition from fishing groups and neighboring countries, particularly China, which imposed a ban on all imports of Japanese seafood in response to the discharges. The ban has significantly impacted Japanese seafood producers and exporters.

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The third release involved discharging a 7,800-ton batch of treated wastewater, bringing the total released to 23,400 tons. The entire process is expected to continue for decades. The wastewater release has raised concerns, and some scientists argue that the ongoing discharge of water containing radionuclides from damaged reactors should be closely monitored.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida recently sought China’s cooperation to lift the seafood ban during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. However, no specific timeline for lifting the ban was established, and both countries agreed to convene a meeting of scientific experts to discuss the release.

TEPCO plans a fourth release by the end of March 2024, but it will only empty about 10 of the approximately 1,000 storage tanks at the Fukushima plant due to the continuous production of wastewater. The tanks currently hold more than 1.3 million tons of wastewater, most of which needs further treatment to meet safety standards before release.

The Japanese government has set up a relief fund to help find new markets for Japanese seafood, and compensation is provided to the fisheries industry for reputational damage caused by the wastewater release. TEPCO maintains that discharging the water into the sea is unavoidable as part of the decommissioning process for the Fukushima plant.

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