06/28/2023, 16.16
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Japan says Chinese power plants already discharge more radioactive water than Fukushima

To counter Beijing's criticism, Tokyo has released a document noting that Chinese plants release 6.5 times more tritium that what TEPCO plans to discharge. The IAEA’s Rafael Grossi is set to meet Japan’s PM Fumio Kishida next week before discharge starts this summer.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) – China’s nuclear power plants are releasing into the ocean radioactively contaminated water without any supervision at levels 6.5 times higher than the amount set to be discharged from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, this according to the Japanese government, stung by China’s criticism over its decision to allow the plant’s owner, the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO), to release contaminated water.

Tokyo plans to allow the release of cooling water from the nuclear power plant at the centre of the "triple catastrophe" of 2011 into the Pacific Ocean, starting this summer.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is expected to meet with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi on 4 July to discuss the matter.

Grossi is expected to hand Kishida a comprehensive report, with the international nuclear watchdog’s assessment of the safety of the ocean discharge.

In recent months, Japan has tried to overcome resistance from other countries, including South Korea, where public opinion is deeply concerned about the possible consequences, particularly on fisheries.

A South Korean delegation visited the Fukushima plant to gather information on the planned discharge and the precautions that will be taken.

For its part, China is proving to be particularly active via state media in opposing the release of water used to cool the crippled nuclear plant, claiming that Tokyo's action could cause serious damage to the environment.

This view was reiterated in the last three months by three senior Chinese officials, i.e. China’s ambassador to Japan Wu Jianghao, China's Permanent Representative to the IAEA Li Song, and Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin.

It is not hard to see how Beijing’s increasingly harsh tones overlap with its row with Tokyo in connection with the "containment" policy targeting Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea.

Given this background, Japanese authorities have mounted a campaign to counter Chinese claims. Citing government sources, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported that water containing about 143 trillion becquerels of tritium was released from the Qinshan III Nuclear Power Plant in Zhejiang Province in 2020.

In 2021, water containing about 112 trillion becquerels was released from the Yangjiang Nuclear Power Station in Guangdong Province, 102 trillion becquerels from the Ningde Nuclear Power Plant in Fujian Province, and 90 trillion becquerels from the Hongyanhe Nuclear Power Plant in Liaoning Province.

Meanwhile, TEPCO plans to limit the annual release of tritium from the Fukushima plant to 22 trillion becquerels, arguing that at such a level, tritium discharged into the sea will remain far below standards set by the World Health Organisation and other bodies.

Photo: IAEA Imagebank/WikiCommons

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