Dumping Radioactive Fukushima Water Into The Pacific May Be "Only Option": Minister

15 Sep 2019 by Staff - Water Diplomat
TOKYO, Japan

Yoshiaki Harada, Japan’s environment minister, commenting on Tokyo Electric Power's (TEPCO) lack of storage capacity for contaminated Fukushima water, has said "The only option will be to drain it into the sea and dilute it". In a 10 September 10 news briefing, Harada said "The whole of the government will discuss this, but I would like to offer my simple opinion." He did not reveal how much of the stored water would be released.

Separately, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, said Harada's comments were "his personal opinion." The government, and not TEPCO, is responsible for the disposal and Suga indicated that the government has not yet decided on the method of disposal. "The government would like to make a decision after making thorough discussion," he added.

Storage capacity for radiocactive water at Fukushima nuclear power plant which was hit by 2011's earthquake and tsunami will run out in 2022. Dumping radioactive waste in the ocean would certainly ekoke strong response response from neighboring countries, particularly South Korea. According to OOSKAnews, Japan’s economic minister at its embassy in South Korea was summoned for a meeting in Seoul last month regarding a reported decision to release toxic radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. Kwon Se Jung, director general in charge of climate change and environmental affairs at South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a note verbale, on August 13, to Japan on the matter.

South Korea said then that its action follows requests for meetings and information since October 2018 after the environmental group Greenpeace released a report about the Japanese government’s plan for the toxic water discharge.

A September 5 briefing for embassy officials in Tokyo followed an August meeting of a government panel of experts looking into ways to solve the water problem and a final government decision will be made based on a report by the panel, diplomats were told, but timing of the decision has not been fixed.

The briefing for diplomats was attended by 27 embassy officials from 22 countries and regions, including South Korea and the United States.

“With transparency in mind, Japan will continue providing the international community with information (on the Fukushima situation),” Koichiro Matsumoto, the Foreign Ministry’s director of international cooperation, told diplomats.

When Tokyo was awarded the 2020 Summer Olympics, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assured the Olympic Committee that waste and contamination from Fukushima was under control. With the imminence of the games, there is additional motivation to resolve the disposal issue efficiently.