When Japan followed through on plans to gradually release more than 1 million metric tons of filtered wastewater into the Pacific Ocean from the summer of 2023, an action the government says is necessary to decommission the Daiichi power plant in Fukushima safely, the country's fishing industry reeled, reported CNN on Wednesday.
The Japanese government and the International Atomic Energy Agency, a United Nations body promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy, say the controlled release, which is expected to take decades, will meet international safety regulations and not harm the environment, as the water will be treated to remove radioactive elements -- with the exception of tritium -- and diluted more than 100 times, according to the report.
But with the deadline for the planned water release looming this summer, fishermen in Fukushima, where a devastating earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear meltdown at the plant in 2011, fear that, whether the release is safe or not, "the move will undermine consumer confidence in their catches and once again threaten the way of life they have fought so hard to recover," said the report.
"Radiation from the damaged nuclear plant leaked into the sea, prompting authorities to suspend fishing operations off the coast of three prefectures that had previously provided Japan with half of its catch," it noted.
That ban lasted over a year and even after it was lifted, Fukushima-based fishermen were for years mostly limited to collecting samples for radioactivity tests on behalf of the state-owned electricity firm Tokyo Electric Power Company rather than taking their catches to market, it said.
Ocean currents have since dispersed the contaminated water enough that radioactive Cesium is nearly undetectable in fish from Fukushima prefecture. Japan lifted its last remaining restrictions on fish from the area in 2021, and most countries have eased import restrictions, it added.