A black rockfish caught in May near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant contained radioactive cesium levels alarmingly surpassing Japan’s safety regulations. This discovery has increased apprehension about Japan’s impending release of treated water from the Fukushima site.
In a startling find, Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), the plant operator, identified that this particular fish had cesium-137 levels 180 times above the country’s safety threshold. Specifically, the fish held 18,000 becquerels per kilogram, far surpassing the acceptable 100 becquerels per kg.
This alarming discovery isn’t isolated. Between May 2022 and May 2023, Tepco confirmed 44 fish with cesium levels beyond the safe limit. Notably, 90% of these fish were found in or near the inner breakwater of the Fukushima plant port.
Following these findings, concerns have grown surrounding Japan’s plan to release 1.3 million tonnes of treated water from the Fukushima facility. While the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency has given its nod to the plan, regional nations, including Hong Kong and China, have expressed unease. China, for instance, has initiated blanket radioactivity testing for Japanese seafood imports, prompting some dealers to halt sales of Japanese seafood.
Japan’s decision to release the treated water has faced criticism from multiple corners. China, some opposition factions in South Korea, and even the Pacific islands have voiced their concerns.
To address the safety measures, Tepco has installed nets since 2012 to contain the potentially contaminated fish within the port. Following recent discoveries, they’ve bolstered their efforts with more nets, hoping to prevent fish from leaving the port.
With these rising apprehensions, Japan’s Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, has defended the decision, emphasizing a “discussion based on scientific evidence” about the Fukushima water release.
As Tepco prepares to release treated water from the plant next month—a process spanning decades—it’s evident that global eyes will closely monitor the situation, hoping for the region’s ecological safety.
This article by Nicholas Vincent was first published by OneGreenPlanet on 27 July 2023.
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