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How risky is Japan’s release of radioactive water from Fukushima?

By illuminem briefings 🌎

Aug 24 2023 · 1 min read

Illuminem Voices
Environmental Sustainability · Climate Change · Effects

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on The Financial Times or enjoy below

🗞️ Driving the news: Japan is set to begin the contentious release of radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean on Thursday
• The decision, though backed by most nuclear and radiology experts, has been vehemently opposed by neighboring regions, environmentalists, and fishing communities

🔭 The context: After the 2011 earthquake and tsunami damaged Fukushima, Tepco cooled the reactors with seawater, now stored on-site
• With storage capacity maxed out, the treated water, primarily containing the weak radioactive isotope tritium, is set for ocean discharge

🌎 Why does it matter for the planet: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has, after a two-year review, determined the plan poses a “negligible radiological risk” to the marine environment or humans
• However, despite the safety assurances, the decision stokes fears about environmental and marine impacts

⏭️ What's next: The treated water, which contains tritium, will be diluted more than 100 times with seawater, ensuring the concentration of tritium falls below the World Health Organization's standard for drinking water
• The water's release will take place over 30 years, involving the pumping of about 1.3mn tonnes of treated water into the sea

💬 One quote: “No one actually knows the long-term effects of releasing such a large amount of waste water on the natural environment.” (Luk Bing-lam, chair of the Hong Kong Nuclear Society)

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