Diplomats from 22 countries attend a briefing on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant at the foreign ministry in Tokyo on Wednesday. Photo: AP/Mari Yamaguchi
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Japan briefs diplomats on Fukushima plant's radioactive water

32 Comments
By Mari Yamaguchi

Japan tried to reassure foreign diplomats Wednesday about safety at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant amid concerns about massive amounts of treated but radioactive water stored in tanks.

Diplomats from 22 countries and regions attended a briefing at the Foreign Ministry, where Japanese officials stressed the importance of combating rumors about safety at the plant, which was decimated by a 2011 earthquake and tsunami, while pledging transparency.

The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said last month that it would run out of storage space for the water in 2022, prompting South Korea to raise safety questions amid tensions with Japan that have intensified over trade and history. South Korea was among those represented at Wednesday's briefing.

Water must be continuously pumped into the four melted reactors at the plant so the fuel inside can be kept cool, and radioactive water has leaked from the reactors and mixed with groundwater and rainwater since the disaster.

The plant has accumulated more than 1 million tons of water in nearly 1,000 tanks. The water has been treated but still contains some radioactive elements. One, tritium - a relative of radiation-emitting hydrogen - cannot be separated.

Tritium is not unique to Fukushima's melted reactors and is not harmful in low doses, and water containing it is routinely released from nuclear power plants around the world, including in South Korea, officials say.

The water has been a source of concern, sparking rumors about safety, especially as Japan tries to get countries to lift restrictions on food imports from the Fukushima area ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Import restrictions are still in place in 22 countries and regions, including South Korea and China.

"In order to prevent harmful rumors about the Fukushima Daiichi plant from being circulated, we believe it is extremely important to provide scientific and accurate information," Yumiko Hata, a Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry official in charge of the Fukushima accident response, said at the briefing. "We appreciate your understanding of the situation and continuing support for the decommissioning work at the Fukushima Daiichi plant."

Officials said there were no complaints from the diplomats Wednesday about Japan's handling of the water.

More than eight years after the accident, Japan has yet to decide what to do with the radioactive water. A government-commissioned panel has picked five options, including the controlled release of the water into the Pacific Ocean.

As disputes between Japan and neighboring South Korea escalated over export controls and colonial-era labor used by Japanese companies, Seoul last month announced plans to step up radiation tests of Japanese food products, and asked about the contaminated water and the possibility of its release into the sea.

Experts say the tanks pose flooding and radiation risks and hamper decontamination efforts at the plant. Nuclear scientists, including members the International Atomic Energy Agency and Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority, have recommended the water's controlled release into the sea as the only realistic option scientifically and financially. Local residents oppose this, saying the release would trigger rumors of contamination, which would spell doom for Fukushima's fishing and agriculture industries.

The panel recently added a sixth option of long-term storage.

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©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

32 Comments
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"....... Fukushima nuclear plant's safety ....."

"....... the importance of combating rumors ......"

So, still everything under control.

Still no problems.

When will they finally admit what's going on? Probably never!

4 ( +12 / -8 )

Japan has reassured foreign diplomats about the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant's safety amid concerns about massive amounts of treated but radioactive water stored in tanks.

Those people who want assure foreign country about Fukushima, have they eat food from Fukushima, drink it's water or even stay there?

3 ( +9 / -6 )

Frankly, they don't know what they're going to do. The volume is to great for evaporation. The two other options - pumping it underground or releasing it into the sea - are both unpalatable. Maybe they could bottle it and convince people it's healthy.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

So, is that as much news as we get? Where is the information on what the TEPCO statement contained? Where is the information on the details of how they intend to deal with it?

These tanks are just a huge disaster waiting to happen. The tanks were only designed to last for five years, which means many of them are already way past their safety dates. These tanks are not made to be earthquake or tsunami safe. This water mostly contains tritium, which is irradiated hydrogen. It is extremely difficult to remove from water, but it can and has been done. The problem is, tritium is very time consuming and expensive to remove from water. As a result, TEPCO and the J-Gov are just gonna dump it all in the Pacific. It is true that a small amount of tritium tainted water dumped in the ocean at periodic intervals would disperse into the with very little (if any) environmental impact. However, we are not talking about small amounts or the dumping spread over a long period of time. We are talking about thousands of tons of highly irradiated water being dumped in the ocean in a short period of time. Furthermore, the build up this contaminated water will continue for decades. Once the flood gates are open they will be dumping it every day it is building up every day. There is also the issue of transparency in their operations. There are no third parties testing this water to say it is what they clam it to be. For all we know, it may have not been treated at all and contains many more harmful isotopes. My suggestion would be to let every one of these countries into the plant and let them do their own testing on the water the J-gov and TEPCO intend to release into the ocean. Like that will ever happen. (roll eyes)

3 ( +8 / -5 )

where Japanese officials stressed the importance of combating rumors.

Translation: every information that it's not coming from our state controlled propaganda is rumors including the scientifically based multiple reports from international organizations. We are big liars but we want you to trust us just like our apathetic population despite our undisputed record of blatant lies.

7 ( +13 / -6 )

No explanation why the radiation has increased over the last week or so then.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Treated but still radioactive is not treated!

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Who would say if it were just verified by a notified nuclear engineer or organization from a third country and released it? Why don't you do something simple? It seems as if the Japanese government is trying to cover up the lies. A lie can make everything lie. Why don't you do everything publicly?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Russia Putin even said that the radiation exposure of Russian scientists was due to Fukushima crabs, not Russian missile bombings. This is because the radioisotope found is cesium137.

Abe can't say a word, but hides a knight. How funny is it?

International embarrassment.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

It's under control a man child in a Super Mario suit to.d me, it was a urge a pledge a promise.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

There have been no deaths from nuclear power plant radiation. Don't worry too much.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies

That's all abe and his regime have got to show for their lengthy reign.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Have to stop those experts spreading "rumors"! First 7 paragraphs.

"Experts say...." Buried in paragraph 8!!!

i know who I would trust and believe. You?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

None of the above!

they are softening up opinion while have been setting up for a dump into the Pacific. Probably decided long ago but know it will get flak.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Can this briefing be made public please? Everyone who lives in Japan and is paying taxes to contribute to the clean up efforts deserves to know the complete information about the current situation.

Again, where are the real journalists in this country willing to ask the difficult questions and pursue issues like this whatever it takes?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Again, where are the real journalists in this country willing to ask the difficult questions and pursue issues like this whatever it takes?

They are all busily involved with food programs.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Deception, obfuscation, positive spin on the menu no doubt.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Nuclear scientists [...] have recommended the water's controlled release into the sea as the only realistic option scientifically and financially. Local residents oppose this, saying the release would trigger rumors of contamination [...] .

People who know what they're talking about give their collective, professional and academic based recommendation. People who have zero correct (and a ton of incorrect) knowledge of the subject disagree.

have they eat food from Fukushima, drink it's water or even stay there?

I mean... I have. I was up there last week. I ate fish. It's delicious. The only thing to fear about Fukushima is misinformation.

Bonus Fact : Caffeine can kill you in large doses. But your coffee doesn't contain enough caffeine to kill you. Replace "Caffeine" in "Coffee" with "Radioactive water" in "The Pacific Ocean" to get an idea of how dangerous a controlled release of Fukushima's contaminated water into the ocean really is.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

ken1911jp - There have been no deaths from nuclear power plant radiation. Don't worry too much.

Excuse me? There was one worker in his fifties that died of cancer contracted while working in the plant clean up crew. Then, add to this the major spike in thyroid cancer amongst the children in Fukushima, which the J-gov propaganda team are keeping a very tight lid on. Yes, nobody has died because they are only kids., However, this will most definitely change in the coming years. You should also add the many suicides and and the elderly who fretted themselves to death after being evacuated. No deaths from power plant radiation is a typically political statement to hide the real facts.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

So why doesn't the government make it easier for people to use sustainable energy? Solar? Wind? etc.

Because it doesn't make as much money as nuclear?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The world should pass a UN resolution condemning Japan for dumping radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Tritium is not unique to Fukushima's melted reactors and is not harmful in low doses, and water containing it is routinely released from nuclear power plants around the world, including in South Korea, officials say.

Yep.

Korea’s Wolseong NPP and Kori NPP releases tritium into the ocean as well.

And just the other day, the Korean official had the nerve to summonhe Japanese Embassy in Seoul to explain the situation.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

The water has been treated but still contains some radioactive elements. One, tritium - a relative of radiation-emitting hydrogen - cannot be separated.

So why does this report, or TEPCO, or the Japanese government not mention anything about the other radioactive elements apart from tritium which TEPCO recently admitted they failed to remove? Why is the Japanese government always hiding things? So dodgy.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

They lie like a rug. Note that strontium isn’t good for you. Do not put it on your breakfast cereal.

From Japan Times:

They called it “tritium water,” but it actually wasn’t.

Tepco said Friday that studies found the water still contains other elements, including radioactive iodine, cesium and strontium. It said more than 80 percent of the 900,000 tons of water stored in large, densely packed tanks contains radioactivity exceeding limits for release into the environment.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Disillusioned

Then, add to this the major spike in thyroid cancer amongst the children in Fukushima, which the J-gov propaganda team are keeping a very tight lid on.

You have your facts wrong. There has been no major spike in thyroid cancer among the children in Fukushima. That is just plain incorrect.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Studies on tritium have shown that it is a mutagen and a carcinogen and that it is a danger to the fetus in the womb.

It is absorbed by the skin and can be carried in air by evaporation, absorbed into the lungs.

Was this information presented to the diplomats as a rumor or fact?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Studies on tritium have shown that it is a mutagen and a carcinogen and that it is a danger to the fetus in the womb.

It is absorbed by the skin and can be carried in air by evaporation, absorbed into the lungs.

Was this information presented to the diplomats as a rumor or fact?

If that’s the case, Fukushima is the last thing they should be worried about since NPP around the world are releasing this stuff to the atmosphere everyday day for decades. (La Hague, France. Bruce Power, Canada)

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

So why are those bags of radiation soil stacked along the rivers?

can anyone explain it to me?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

So why are those bags of radiation soil stacked along the rivers?

can anyone explain it to me?

@Cricky - They are top soil removed from exclusion zones.

Next to them, the crops grow.

https://twitter.com/edgeofsports/status/1153153057355530241

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The plastic bags of decontaminated soil and leaves which are about one metric 1m x 1m x 1m are moved to prepared storage places, and there are many nearer to the coast area. The ground is prepared and covered with plastic first. The bags are stacked onto that. The levels of radiation are small.

There are more ten million of these bags.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20151210/p2a/00m/0na/020000c

Compared to other areas there have no great increases in thyroid cancer in children.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Some people prefer fantasy and conspiracy than facts and truth.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

zichi

Compared to other areas there have no great increases in thyroid cancer in children.

Yes. You are correct. Skeptics can read the scientific literature here:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5770131/

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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