Equipment related to Japan's nuke wastewater release starts operation
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma Town, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, February 2023. /CFP
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma Town, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, February 2023. /CFP

Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma Town, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, February 2023. /CFP

Part of the equipment related to the discharge of nuclear-contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has started operation on Friday, according to Japanese media TV Asahi.

The equipment passed the inspection of Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority on Wednesday, and this is the first time it is being operated, the report said.

By stirring the nuclear wastewater, the equipment is used to homogenize the concentration of radioactive substances in it, and measure whether these radioactive substances, except tritium which can't be removed from the water, are below the standard levels. It will take about two months to determine the levels of these substances in the wastewater.

Environmental impact and safety concerns of Japan's discharge plan have drawn attention from neighboring countries such as China and South Korea and Pacific island nations.

On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin criticized Japan's discharge plan, saying it is an attempt to shift the risk of nuclear pollution to all mankind and runs counter to Japan's due international obligations.

Both China and South Korea urged Japan to take a responsible approach and not to arbitrarily start dumping nuclear-contaminated wastewater during a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors last week.

The social aspects and major country relations around Japan's decision to release the radioactive wastewater from the defunct plant must be questioned, Karly Burch from the University of Auckland told Xinhua in a recent interview.

The New Zealand sociologist said Japan should stop perpetuating nuclear colonialism, and respect the sovereignty and self-determination of Pacific nations regarding the discharge plan.

The Japanese government announced in April 2021 that it would release radioactive wastewater from the nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean after it is treated by the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS).

Experts say the treatment process can only remove some of the radioactive elements, and the discharge would affect the entire biosphere as radioactive elements will be accumulated along the food chain.  

Kenichi Oshima, a professor at Ryukoku University, told Xinhua that radioactive substances, unlike ordinary hazardous chemicals, do not disappear without chemical treatment as nature's self-purification does not work on it. 

The Japanese environmental economist added that Japan's discharge plan is inappropriate, which is echoed by many Japanese.

A day before the 12th anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear accident last week, Japanese activists gathered in front of the headquarters of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO) in Tokyo, the plant's operator, to protest against the release plan. 

Similar protests have been held in several parts of Japan and South Korea in the past months since the government decided to start the discharge plan in the spring or summer of this year.

About 90 percent of respondents believe the Japanese government's discharge plan will have a negative impact on the image of Fukushima, and more than half said they do not understand the plan, according to a recent poll conducted by Fukushima Television and Fukushima Minpo News.

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