The decision of the Japanese government to release radioactively contaminated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear meltdown into the sea has made headlines around the world and was condemned by the U.N.
In a survey carried out in Japan in November and December - while the option of the release was still being discussed – showed that a majority of the population was against it. Only 32 percent supported the release while 55 percent of respondents opposed it. Even among supporters of the Suga administration, support was only at 39 percent. Among supporters of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, support was highest, but still below the 50 percent mark.
The water was contaminated in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which led to the damage of the nuclear power plant at Fukushima. It will be diluted and filtered, but U.N. experts are nevertheless concerned about the presence of tritium that will remain in the wastewater. While the tritium levels of the release will be far below Japanese and international safety standards, the U.N. said there was the possibility of the isotope binding to other molecules, moving up the food chain and endangering animals and possibly humans. The U.N. release also called into question the cleaning and filtration efforts at Fukushima that had yet to produce the announced result of leaving only the tritium isotopes in the water.
The release of the 1.25 million tons of water is scheduled to start in two years and would take around 40 years to complete. The water is the result of cooling the ruined Fukushima power plant after the disaster, according to Science. For the past ten years, cooling water has been used and collected in tanks. The International Atomic Energy Agency considers the release “in line with international practices”, according to the report.