Light Wave


UN Approves Japan’s Plan to Release Radioactive Fukushima Water into Sea

By Jake Beardslee · July 4, 2023

Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant  IAEA Imagebank, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Tokyo, Japan - In a significant development for the decommissioning process of the Fukushima nuclear plant, the Japanese government has announced plans to start releasing treated radioactive water into the ocean as early as August. This decision follows the endorsement of the plan by the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“The plan is in conformity with the agreed international standards. And its application would have negligible impact. On the environment, meaning the water, fish, and sediment,” stated Rafael Grossi, the Director General of the IAEA, highlighting the plan’s alignment with global safety standards.

The Fukushima nuclear plant, devastated by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011, has been a subject of concern and intensive efforts to mitigate the environmental impact. The water, stored in approximately a thousand tanks on-site, has reached near capacity, necessitating its removal to prevent accidental leaks and create space for the decommissioning process.

According to Rafael Grossi, the Director General of the IAEA, the plan to release the water is in line with agreed international standards and would have a negligible impact on the environment, including the water, fish, and sediment.

“It must be removed to prevent accidental leaks and make room for decommissioning. The Japanese government says they’re treated, but still slightly radioactive water will be diluted to levels safer than international standards,” the report states.

However, the approval from the UN’s nuclear watchdog has drawn deep concerns from local fishermen and neighboring countries, most notably China. Despite reassurances from the Japanese government and the IAEA, fishermen worry about the potential impact on their livelihoods and the fishing industry.

“As a responsible leader of the international community, I have repeatedly stated that I will not allow a discharge that would have a harmful impact on human health and the environment of both Japan and the world,” said Jianghao Wu, the Chinese Ambassador to Japan, expressing his reservations about any discharge that could harm human health and the environment.

The UN approval was obtained despite fierce resistance from neighboring countries like China, South Korea, and some Pacific island nations due to safety concerns. These countries fear potential repercussions on their marine ecosystems and the health of their citizens.

Light Wave commentary

The Japanese government’s decision to release treated radioactive water into the ocean marks a major milestone in the ongoing efforts to decommission the Fukushima nuclear plant. While proponents argue that the plan adheres to international standards and would have minimal environmental impact, concerns persist among local stakeholders and neighboring countries. As the August release date approaches, it remains crucial to ensure open communication, transparency, and continued international cooperation to address the concerns and implications surrounding this decision.