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Japan began releasing early on Thursday heavily diluted water from the reactors of the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean, drawing renewed criticism from China over its “selfish and irresponsible act.”
“The ocean belongs to all humanity. To forcibly start the ocean discharge is an extremely selfish and irresponsible act in disregard of the global public interest,” China said on Thursday.
“China firmly opposes and strongly condemns it. We have made serious démarches to Japan and asked it to stop this wrongdoing.”
Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), the operator of the nuclear plant that suffered a meltdown in the 2011 disaster, said on Thursday that the water contained up to 63 becquerels of tritium per liter, a unit of radioactivity, below the World Health Organization (WHO) drinking water limit of 10,000 becquerels per liter.
The plan for the water’s disposal – expected to take 30 years – is a highly controversial issue due to concern about the radioactive properties of the wastewater, despite assurances from experts the liquid has been diluted enough to render the wastewater harmless.
There are some 1 million tons of contaminated reactor water that was kept in storage by power utility Tepco for years until the government concluded the only option was to release the water in a controlled manner into the ocean.
Despite the absence of viable options, environmental groups and fishing industry organizations are against the release of the liquid into the sea, even with assurances from scientists that the risk of contamination is low. The water will be diluted to reduce the concentration of radioactive material 40 times.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said earlier this week that its report from last month “concluded that the approach and activities for this discharge are consistent with relevant international safety standards and would have a negligible radiological impact on people and the environment.”
Despite these assurances, Hong Kong activated on Thursday a ban on seafood imports from a number of Japanese regions.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.