Chinese experts have condemned Japan's unilateral decision to discharge nuclear wastewater into the sea, calling it "extremely irresponsible."
Dumping wastewater resulted from the accident at Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea is not Japan's only option, said Liu Senlin, a researcher with the China Institute of Atomic Energy.
Japan's unilateral decision to release the wastewater into the ocean is extremely irresponsible, Liu said. The choice, which involves the lowest economic cost to Japan, was made before seeking consensus with the international community and stakeholders, and before exhausting all available options.
According to Liu, there are several other options for wastewater disposal include burying it underground or evaporating it into the air, but Japan merely opted for the cheapest plan.
"The decision passes the responsibility that should be borne by Japan itself to the whole world, setting a very bad precedent," he noted.
The ultimate responsibility for ensuring safety of spent fuel and radioactive waste management rests with the State, he said, citing Convention on Nuclear Safety, and Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which Japan is a signatory, also requires that contracting states take all measures necessary to ensure that pollution arising from incidents or activities under their jurisdiction or control does not spread beyond the areas where they exercise sovereign rights.
Japan should implement prudent measures in a manner that takes responsibility for its own people and the international community, said Liu, adding that it should choose the best way to dispose of the nuclear wastewater with participation and supervision from stakeholders.
It is also doubtful whether or not Japan's treated wastewater truly meets discharge standards, said Zhao Chengkun, an expert with the China Nuclear Energy Association.
As of December 31, 2019, 73 percent of the nuclear wastewater still exceeds Japan's discharge standards after treatment by an advanced liquid processing system (ALPS) capable of removing most contaminants, according to a report from an organization researching the treatment of wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear accident.
Moreover, Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator handling wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear accident, has a record of covering up and falsifying information, Zhao noted.
Liu Xinhua, a researcher with the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, added that there is a fundamental difference between wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant accident and liquid effluents from the normal operation of nuclear power plants in terms of source, radionuclide type and processing difficulty.
The liquid waste discharged after the Fukushima nuclear plant accident contain radionuclides and extremely toxic transuranium elements such as Plutonium and Americium. However, liquid effluents discharged normally from nuclear power plants do not directly come in contact with the fuel pellets and barely have the transuranium elements, Liu Xinhua said.