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Source: This post is created based on the article “Japan to flush Fukushima wastewater”, published in The Hindu on 27th January 2023.
Syllabus Topic – GS Paper 3 – Environmental Pollution
News: Japan is expected to start flushing 1.25 million tonnes of wastewater from the embattled Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean this year.
The 2011 earthquake of 9 magnitude, damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. radioactive materials leaked from the plant and made its surrounding land uninhabitable.
The water that Japan wants to flush was used to cool the reactors and contains radioactive isotopes.
What are the justifications by the government?
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which operates the Fukushima facility, has said that it has treated the water to remove most radioactive isotopes. The water is expected to be far above safety standards.
Nuclear plants around the world regularly release water containing trace amounts of radionuclides into large water bodies.
There is no known threshold below which radiation can be considered safe.
What are the concerns?
Isotopes of ruthenium and plutonium could not be removed entirely by the TEPCO’s treatment procedure. These isotopes could stay in the ocean and marine creatures for a longer period of time.
Experts expect the affected water to poison the fish.
Any discharge of radioactive materials will increase the risk of cancer and other known health impacts to those who are exposed,
What are the other options for Japan?
Japanese government can’t store the water for longer, because tritium’s half-life is 12-13 years. The affect of other radioactive materials will also reduce within this period.
Fukushima facility has been declared uninhabitable, so permanent tanks to hold the water can be built here, each with a capacity of 1,000 metre cube.