The local fishing community and neighboring countries have expressed strong criticism of Tokyo’s decision to dump radioactive wastewater into the Pacific Ocean, prompting protests even in South Korea. Environmental and social experts from across Asia have urged Japan to refrain from polluting the sea with this treated water from the Fukushima nuclear plant, which was used to cool the reactors after the 2011 accident.
Japan’s plan involves Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the plant’s operator, dumping more than one million tons of treated radioactive water into the ocean. However, specialists have warned about the dangers involved and expressed concern about the potential impacts. Accurate assessment of the effects requires consideration of multiple factors and ongoing scientific research, according to Anjal Prakash, research professor at the Bharti Institute of Public Policy at the Indian School of Business.
The impact of this action will not only affect the Pacific Ocean but also the areas covered by the South Pacific Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty. In addition, there is a possibility that migratory fish in these areas may catch fish contaminated by this radioactive substance.
Social discontent has been expressed both in the local fishing community and in neighboring countries such as South Korea, Russia, and China. Protests and rejection of this decision have been evident through rallies and demonstrations. South Korean fishermen rallied in front of the National Assembly in Seoul to show their opposition, while an alliance of more than 50 organizations called a rally in front of the Japanese Consulate General on the island.
Although Japanese authorities and TEPCO assure that the discharge of this treated wastewater will not pose a threat to human health or the marine environment, there is concern that it may still contain tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen that is difficult to separate from water. Japan’s decision to carry out this discharge has generated a great deal of controversy and calls for safer and more sustainable alternatives for the management of radioactive waste.