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South Korea Expresses Concern About New Fukushima Water Release Plan

SEOUL, South Korea

South Korea has expressed concern about a new draft plan from Japan to release contaminated Fukushima water from its disabled Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea.

The country’s Office for Government Policy Coordination said March 26 that Japan should ensure that its plan does not affect the health and safety of South Koreans or the maritime ecosystem, while the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said that it “cannot support the Japanese government discharging contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in the sea without discussions with neighbouring countries”.

Further OOSKAnews coverage of Fukushima and Water

South Korea's latest protest came two days after the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) issued a more detailed draft plan to release the contaminated water over 30 years.

Currently, treated, but still radioactive water, is accumulating at about 170 tons per day and is being treated to remove most contaminants, following the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

TEPCO reports that currently there is 1.19 million cubic meters of contaminated water in storage on site. The concentration of tritium, which cannot be completely removed, is about 730,000 Bq/litre, or a total of 16 grams. Quantities of treated water are increasing constantly and storage capacity is expected to run out in 2021.

The utility's report discusses the treatment and disposal methods, which have been developed by outside experts, as being “practical options, both of which have precedents in current practice…the radiation impact of both the discharge into the sea and vapor release is notably small, compared to natural radiation exposure,” saying that the government of Japan, not TEPCO, will make the final decision as to release.

The tritium concentration will be lowered as much as possible under the plan: “For vapor release: TEPCO will study dilution of tritium at a rate equivalent to that for discharge into the sea, as against the regulatory concentration limit of tritium in the atmosphere (5 Bq in 1 liter air)...For discharge into the sea: TEPCO will study dilution rates of tritium with reference to operational standards for “groundwater bypass” and “subdrains” (1,500 Bq in 1 liter water), which are well below the regulatory concentration limit for tritium in seawater (60,000 Bq in 1 liter water). This is against WHO drinking water guideline (10,000 Bq in 1 liter water)."

If any abnormality is detected, the disposal process will stopped under the draft plan. Monitoring will be enhanced by [an] increase in sampling points and frequency; information will be published promptly.

The report is described as being aimed at the general public and other stakeholders who plan to participate in government-organised “opinion hearings”.

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