Ocean Release Of Fukushima Water Carries Risk Of Damaging Human DNA

18 Oct 2020 by Staff - Water Diplomat
TOKYO, Japan

This news article was updated 25 October

Environmental group Greenpeace has claimed that the 1.23 million metric tons of water stored at the plant -- scene of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster -- contains "dangerous" levels of the radioactive isotope carbon-14 and other "hazardous" radionuclides, which it says will have "serious long-term consequences for communities and the environment" if the water is released into the Pacific Ocean.

A 23 October report by Geenpeace also warned that release of the contaminated water even had the potential to damage human DNA.

Background: Water implications of the Fukushima disaster - OOSKAnews

Earlier this month epresentatives of the Japanese fishing industry expressed unequivocal opposition to the planned release of water contaminated by the nuclear meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear power station in 2011 into the ocean, describing irrevocable damage to the industry for the foreseeable future. 

The government is concluding consultations and hearings in order to declare a policy on release as soon as possible. Storage capacity for the contaminated water at the site in Fukushima is expected to run out in 2022.

The fishing industry, through the national federation of fisheries cooperatives, JF Xengyoren, commented that much hard work has been done to alleviate concerns about the quality of the local seafood. If the contaminated water were released to the sea, these efforts would be for nought, claimed Chairman Hiroshi Kishi. Regardless of how “clean” the contaminated water is, he further contends that damaging rumors would inevitably occur and that the damage would continue for the foreseeable future.

Separately, a seafood processing federation from Fukushima Prefecture claims that even if fish are caught outside the prefecture, if it is processed within the prefecture it is considered “tainted”.

Contrarily, the associations of inns and hotels in Fukushima and the Central Federaion of Societies of Commerce and Industry have indicated its support for the proposal.

But the issue of sea release and the timing of the final decision on its methods extends beyond Japanese industries, with opposition expected from neighbouring countries, particularly South Korea.

As reported in OOSKAnews, UN special rapporteurs respectively on hazardous wastes, rights to food, rights to assembly and association, and rights of indigenous people, asserted in June that the government's short extension for the current public consultation was grossly insufficient. With COVID-19 measures preventing in-depth consultations with relevant stakeholders, the rapporteurs called on the Japanese government to give “proper space and opportunity for consultations on the disposal of nuclear waste that will likely affect people and peoples both inside and outside of Japan.”

The release of the water into the ocean has been described by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as feasible. However, local fishermen have objected, fearing the possibility of a consumer ban on locally caught seafood. In addition, South Korea remains concerned about the overall environmental impact of any release. There is already a ban there on the importation of Japanese seafood.