Stop the Ocean Discharge of Fukushima Radioactive Water

Oct 21, 2020

  • The Japanese government must create a long-term storage plan, instead of releasing radioactive water into the ocean.
  • The Korean government should actively oppose the ocean discharge of radioactive water from Fukushima, Japan.
  • The Korean government must prepare follow-up measures, such as considering a ban on the import of all Japanese seafood.

The Japanese government plans to make a final decision on the ocean discharge of radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, at a cabinet meeting on October 27. The Japanese government has stated that by 2022 storage tanks at the plant will reach capacity.

The Japanese government insists that through Advanced Liquid Processing Systems (ALPS) they are able to lower radioactive concentrations in the water to safe levels. However, the 1.2 million tons of contaminated water that the Japanese government claims has already been processed still contains radioactive materials at concentrations from 100 to 20,000 times the permitted amount for cancer- and mutation-causing materials.

Tritium is one material that cannot be removed through processing, and the Japanese government plans to simply dilute it in sea water to bring it down to safe concentrations. In a recent article for the magazine, Science, Ken Buesseler of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, notes that if the Japanese government opted for a long-term storage strategy, 97% of all tritium in the stored water would decay within 60 years, along with several other short lived isotopes. Buesseler also goes on to raise concerns about carbon-14, a substance that was not included in the more than 62 radioactive materials that ALPS are designed to remove. According to Buesseler, “the biological concentration factors in fish are up to 50,000 higher for carbon-14 than tritium.”

If water is discharged at Fukushima, it is bound to reach Korea. According to research from Fukushima University the contaminated water discharged during the Fukushima disaster reached the east coast of Korea within a year.

The Citizens’ Radiation Monitoring Center and the Korean Federation for Environmental Movements, call on the Japanese government to opt for long-term storage over ocean discharge. The decision to discharge the water is being based on economic costs, while risking environmental and human safety.

We also call on the Korean government to more actively oppose the discharge plan. If international pressure is unable to sway the Japanese government, Korea must prepare follow-up measures. This could include expanding the current ban on the import of fishery products from Fukushima and its surrounding prefectures, to a complete ban on all Japanese seafood imports.

Written by: Citizens’ Radiation Monitoring Center and Korean Federation for Environmental Movements/Friends of the Earth South Korea.

For more information contact:
Sam Macdonald
Korea Federation for Environmental Movements