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Japan faces backlash as it prepares to dump Fukushima nuclear plant water into the sea

Japan faces backlash as it prepares to dump Fukushima nuclear plant water into the sea

The plan has been given the green light but is now facing staunch opposition from those who live around the site of the 2011 disaster.

Japanese authorities are facing a swelling tide of criticism as they prepare to dump one million tonnes of water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the sea.

Fishermen that reside in the Fukushima prefecture are speaking out against the powers that be.

They’re joined by a chorus of activists from South Korea, China, and governments across the Pacific Islands who have all slammed the Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) plan to dump the water in the coming months.

The now-defunct Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was destroyed by a massive tsunami in 2011, which triggered a number of nuclear meltdowns at the site.

Fukushima, Japan, in the wake of the tsunami that tore through the prefecture.
Olivier bourgeois / Alamy

Now, 11 years on, treated wastewater from the site will be pushed out into the Pacific Ocean, angering local fisherman Haruo Ono and other anglers in the area.

"Piping water into the sea is an outrage. The sea is not a garbage dump," he told CBS.

"The company says it's safe, but the consequences could catch up with us 50 years down the road."

TEPCO has deemed the water safe and has assured the public there will be no consequences as the water will meet all international standards for the discharge of waste.

But either way, Ono reckons it'll spell disaster for him and other local fishermen who have been catching their food and product off the coast of Fukushima their whole lives.

View from the water of the contaminated Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station November 6, 2014 in Okuma, Japan.
IAEA / Alamy

"People don't understand it. Mothers won't choose Fukushima fish knowing it's been swimming in radioactive water," he said.

"Even if the experts say it's safe. This is the end of my livelihood."

The recycled water will be pushed out into the sea by way of a long pipe, but only once all stakeholders involved have signed off on the project.

Facility manager Kazuo Yamanaka told CBS once the pipes are built, they will get the go-ahead from 'the local fishermen and residents of the communities'.

TEPCO has designed a specialized filtration system to remove the 62 radionuclides from the contaminated water.

The only one that cannot be removed is a contaminant called tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen that can cause damage to DNA cells.

However, the amount found within the treated wastewater that is destined for release will be heavily diluted.

University of Portsmouth Environmental Science professor Jim Smith told the ABC that, despite the tritium in the water, the recycled fluids are considered to be drinkable by humans.

South Korean members of Women's Christian Association Korea stage a rally to denounce the Japan government's decision on Fukushima water.
Sipa US / Alamy

"We measure radioactivity in becquerels," he said.

"The planned release will be around 1,500 becquerels per liter of tritium. That's about seven times lower than the World Health Organization drinking water standard."

He added: "So, in theory, if it wasn't salty water, you could drink it."

The International Atomic Energy Agency has also backed TEPCO's planned water release, which is set to go ahead later this year.

Featured Image Credit: Associated Press / Alamy Stock Photo. ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: Environment, Climate Change, News, World News