Protesters in South Korea are urging their government to step in and prevent what they call a “possible looming disaster.” This concerns Japan’s recent action of releasing over a million metric tons of treated radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean. This move by Japan has sparked concerns both domestically and internationally, particularly among fishing communities and those worried about the environmental consequences.
The Korean Radiation Watch group took the lead in organizing a protest against Japan’s decision to release the treated radioactive water. The rally drew in more than 50,000 participants, according to the organizers. Choi Kyoungsook, a member of the Korean Radiation Watch group, expressed their concerns, saying that while immediate disasters like detecting radioactive materials in seafood might not be apparent, the release could still pose a risk to the local fishing industry. Kyoungsook emphasized the need for the government to find solutions to address these concerns.
The reason behind Japan’s decision to release the Fukushima water lies in the fact that the water, which had been contaminated by contact with fuel rods during the plant’s destruction in a 2011 earthquake and tsunami, has been treated and is now considered safe. Reports from sources like Reuters explain that Tokyo Electric Power has been filtering the water to remove most radioactive isotopes, leaving only tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen that is difficult to separate.
Japan’s fisheries agency stated that fish tested in waters around the Fukushima plant did not show detectable levels of tritium, providing some reassurance. However, South Korea, while not seeing scientific problems with the water release, insists that all potential impacts have not been thoroughly studied by environmental activists.
The practice of releasing water containing tritium is common in nuclear plants globally, and regulatory authorities generally support this approach for dealing with Fukushima’s water, as reported by Reuters. Although tritium is considered relatively harmless because its radiation is not strong enough to penetrate human skin, there are concerns about elevated cancer risks when it is ingested at levels exceeding those present in the released water.
The process of disposing of this water will extend over decades, running alongside the planned decommissioning of the Fukushima plant.
(With Reuters inputs)