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Facts about Japan's Fukushima wastewater release

Japan started releasing nuclear-contaminated wastewater from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean on August 24.

Live video provided by the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) showed that a staff member turned on a seawater pump at around 1:00 pm local time (04:00 GMT), marking the beginning of the controversial ocean discharge as concerns and opposition persist among local fishermen as well as in neighboring countries and Pacific island countries.

The Japanese government and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) claimed the government’s plan met the agency’s safety standards, and that releasing the radioactive wastewater is not likely to pose a serious health threat to humans.

However, scientists have raised questions about whether the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company, which operates the plant, have been sufficiently forthcoming about what radioactive material may remain in the holding tanks.

Amid opposition from multiple sides, why does Japan insist on discharging the water into the sea?

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry proposed five methods for treating the nuclear-contaminated from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear station, including geosphere injection, discharge into the sea, vapor release, hydrogen release, and underground burial. Among them, the Japanese government chose the lowest-cost method: discharge into the sea.

In addition, the IAEA’s assessment was unfolded under Japan’s unilateral commission and was limited to the safety review of the ALPS-treated water. IAEA did not examine whether the Japanese government had exhausted all feasible means of removing nuclear contamination as well as the legitimacy and legality of Japan’s nuclear-contaminated water discharge plan.

IAEA Director General Grossi also made it clear that nuclear-contaminated wastewater discharge is a national decision by the Japanese government and that IAEA’s report is neither a recommendation nor an endorsement of that policy.

Japan made its own decisions before seeking an authoritative endorsement and then pushed the world to accept its plan. Is the procedure right regarding nuclear-related issues that concern all humankind?

We should be aware that once nuclear-contaminated water enters the sea, it is no longer just a matter of Japan's internal affairs but a matter for every human on this earth.

Co-presented by GDToday and the School of Journalism and Communication, Jinan University

Video editor | Zeng Qianzhi (intern)

Video script | Zeng Qianzhi (intern), Rofel Ding

Editor | Wing Zhang, Olivia Yang, Steven Yuen, Lydia Liu, Jerry

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