Japan has approved a plan to release over one million tonnes of treated water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has said.
The decision that was anticipated but held back for years over safety concerns and protests was taken at a Cabinet meeting. The government insists it’s safe as the water has been treated and will be diluted. It has support from the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“The Japanese government has compiled basic policies to release the processed water into the ocean, after ensuring the safety levels of the water… and while the government takes measures to prevent reputational damage,” said Suga.
The water has been stored in tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi plant since 2011, when an earthquake and tsunami damaged its reactors and their cooling water became contaminated and began leaking.
The release of water will begin in two years but the decision has already sparked outrage among Japan’s neighbours. South Korea expressed regret, saying it “could have a direct or indirect impact on the safety of our people and the surrounding environment in the future”. China expressed concern, urging Japan to “act in a responsible manner”.