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Fukushima discharge excuse dishonest: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2021-05-30 19:13
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Three local agricultural cooperatives in Fukushima, Japan, passed a special resolution on Friday expressing opposition to the government's decision to release nuclear waste water into the Pacific Ocean, accusing the government authorities of failing to properly explain the matter to Japanese citizens as well as fishery workers.

The resolution, passed by the organizations' respective congresses, criticizes the authorities and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc for breaching the previous agreement to not start any treatment of the contaminated waste water without the due understanding of the people concerned, and describes the latter as being "extremely dishonest".

Nonetheless, the company, which owns and operates the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant, is pressing ahead with the plan to discharge the radioactive waste water into the sea after diluting it.

And rather than thinking twice about the potentially disastrous consequences of the decision and addressing people's legitimate concerns about it in a responsible manner, the Japanese authorities seem determined to go ahead and do it, whatever the consequences. Its current approach, which displays dishonesty both to its own citizens and to neighboring countries, will not only result in long-term damage to the marine environment for all countries in the West Pacific region, which certainly includes Japan itself, but also undermines the Japan government's credibility and the moral standing in the international community.

In the question-and-answer section on the Japanese Embassy in China's official website, in response to a question about the controversial discharge, the answer claims that what will be released into the sea is not "contaminated water", but "ALPS-treated water". ALPS stands for "Advanced Liquid Processing System", which it says is capable of removing "most of radionuclides … with the exception of tritium".

So radioactive waste water containing the radionuclide tritium is not contaminated water.

The answer goes on to say that the move conforms to international convention. Many countries in the world, China included, discharge radioactive waste from nuclear power plants into the sea.

But the wording here conceals a conspicuous difference between what the Fukushima facility is planning to discharge and what other nuclear power plants do. As many industry insiders have pointed out, the waste water from the damaged Fukushima facility has been in direct contact with the nuclear fuel in the process of a nuclear reactor meltdown, which contains multiple radioactive elements, and thus contains "extremely complex" nuclear pollutants. What nuclear power plants routinely discharge, on the contrary, is cooling water that contains no radioactive elements.

Intentionally confusing the public with such word play is indeed extremely dishonest.

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