Japan ‘risks contaminating’ the whole world – China
Beijing has once again condemned what it says are Tokyo’s “irresponsible” methods of disposing treated wastewater from its stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean, after Japan released its third batch of radioactive wastewater on Thursday.
Japan is “blatantly and irresponsibly spreading the risk of contamination worldwide,” Beijing’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, said on Thursday at a press briefing, according to the ministry’s website.
Wang added that a recent incident in which radioactive wastewater was accidentally splashed onto workers at the plant is another example of TEPCO’s (Tokyo Electric Power Company) “problematic internal management and habit of deceiving the public.”
He added that the incident “makes people doubt once again the credibility of Japan’s purportedly ‘safe and transparent’ discharge plan.”
From late August, Japan began gradually releasing the equivalent of 540 Olympic-sized swimming pools of wastewater from the disabled nuclear facility in Japan’s east. The radioactive water had been used to cool reactors that went into meltdown following the deadly 2011 earthquakes and ensuing tsunami.
A third discharge began on Thursday and is expected to take 17 days to compete.
The disposal methods have drawn stern condemnation from some members of the international community, with China and, later, Russia banning all imports of seafood from the region, arguing that Tokyo is damaging the environment.
However, Japan argues that the wastewater being released into the ocean poses no danger to the public and that, in its disposal, which is taking place over decades, it will be heavily diluted with seawater.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is overseeing the wastewater disposal, sided with Japan in September, saying that it will be able to “provide assurances to people around the world that the discharge will cause no harm.”
Nonetheless, Wang added on Thursday that Tokyo must “take seriously the widespread international concerns, engage in thorough consultations with other stakeholders, especially its neighbors, and dispose of the nuclear-contaminated water in a responsible way.”
The diplomatic spat has led to concerns for the future of seafood imports into China, which is Japan’s biggest trading partner. It has also particularly affected scallop fishermen in the Hokkaido region 500 kilometers (300 miles) north of the Fukushima plant, who used Chinese factories to process the mollusks.