Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) revealed its plans for the third round of seawater discharge of contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The operation is scheduled to commence on November 2nd, with an estimated duration until November 20th. The total volume of contaminated water to be released during this third round is approximately 7,800 tons. The volume of the previous two rounds was approximately 15,600 tons.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has been grappling with the challenge of handling a massive amount of contaminated water ever since the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in 2011 caused a severe meltdown of its reactors. Over the years, various methods have been employed to mitigate the situation, and one such method involves the controlled release of treated radioactive water into the sea. However, this strategy has raised concerns and sparked debates about its potential environmental impact.
TEPCO has undertaken a rigorous process to treat the contaminated water stored on-site. The treatment involves removing most of the radioactive contaminants, leaving only the less harmful tritium. Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, and when diluted, it is considered to pose minimal risk to the environment and human health.
Proponents argue that the treated water poses a minimal threat to marine life and ecosystems, as it complies with internationally accepted safety standards. They believe that releasing the water is a practical solution to free up much-needed storage space and a necessary step in the plant's decommissioning process.
However, there are concerns from local communities, environmental organisations, and neighbouring countries. Surveys of South Koreans show that more than 80% of respondents oppose the Japanese discharge plan and more than 60% said they won't eat seafood after the water release begins. “I totally oppose the Japanese plan. The radioactive wastewater is truly a bad thing,” said Lee Jae-kyung, a Seoul resident.
As the third round of contaminated water discharge begins, it is crucial that rigorous monitoring and transparency continue to be at the forefront of this operation. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster serves as a sobering reminder of the far-reaching consequences of nuclear accidents, and the world watches closely as this latest phase of water discharge unfolds.
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