Japan’s plan to release over 1 million tonnes of water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, which they claim has been treated and cleared of harmful radionuclides, has been met with growing opposition from neighboring nations, local residents, environmental groups, and international critics. The Japanese government asserts that its Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) has effectively removed nearly all radionuclides from the diluted water, which is to be discharged into the Pacific Ocean through a 1km-long pipe. Several global nuclear energy experts have supported the decision, arguing that releasing the treated water is the best available option.
However, Japan’s decision has faced mounting criticism from those who question the safety of releasing the treated water. Opponents argue that even treated and diluted water still contains radionuclides, such as tritium and carbon-14, which pose a potential risk to human health and the environment. Greenpeace, for example, has expressed its strong opposition to the plan, stating that discharging 1.3 million tonnes of water breaches international maritime law and ignores human rights (Greenpeace, 2021).
Research has shown that even low levels of radioactive contaminants, such as tritium, can pose long-term risks to the environment and human health (UNSCEAR, 2013). According to a study conducted by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), continuous exposure to low levels of radiation can increase the risk of cancer and other diseases. Furthermore, releasing such a large volume of treated water into the ocean could potentially disrupt marine ecosystems and harm the livelihoods of local fishermen and coastal communities.
Critics have also called out Japan for failing to address the concerns of neighboring countries, such as China, South Korea, Taiwan, and the Federated States of Micronesia, who have all expressed strong opposition to the plan. Japan’s lack of transparency, including not permitting independent testing of site samples and their failure to implement adequate safeguards at the plant, has only fueled further distrust and criticism.
Alternative solutions to releasing the treated water have been proposed, such as storing and processing the water over the long term or evaporating it into the air. These options, while potentially more expensive and time-consuming, could minimize the risks associated with discharging the treated water into the ocean.
Japan’s decision to release treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station has sparked widespread concern and opposition, both domestically and internationally. Critics argue that the potential long-term risks to human health, the environment, and the livelihoods of coastal communities have not been adequately addressed. As opposition to the plan continues to grow, it remains crucial for Japan to engage in transparent dialogue with neighboring countries, explore alternative solutions, and prioritize the safety and well-being of its citizens and the global community.