Jakarta (VOA) —
The Japanese government decided to start disposing of radioactive waste water that had been processed by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (PLTN) into the Pacific Ocean, on August 24, 2023. The preparations for disposing of radioactive water were carried out by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) as the manager of the Fukushima NPP.
The waste water was previously used to cool the radioactive reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi NPP which was hit by the devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. This treated water has been stored in tanks at the Fukushima NPP for more than a decade. But the storage area has now run out of space.
Climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace Indonesia, Didit Haryo Wicaksono told VOA, Thursday (24/8) said the process of disposing of radioactive waste which is equivalent to 540 Olympic swimming pools is like planting an ecological bomb into the waters of the Pacific. This also shows that the Japanese government has run out of ideas in processing radioactive waste which continues to grow every year.
As an archipelagic country with vast waters and directly adjacent to the Pacific waters, of course Indonesia needs to be worried. Even though the impact has not been felt at this time, he continued, the threat is facing in the coming year. According to him, the content of these radioactive substances is very likely to accumulate in marine products obtained from Indonesian waters.
“Because as an archipelagic country that has a very wide water area and is directly adjacent to the Pacific, the threat of waste released by the Japanese government will certainly have an impact on our waters. The accumulation of radioactive substances which then exposes our waters is very likely into our catches,” said Didit.
Activists demonstrate in Busan, South Korea, to protest Japan’s move to dump radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean, Thursday, August 24, 2023. (Photo: Minwoo Park/Reuters)
Meanwhile, senior researcher in the nuclear field at the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) Djarot Sulistio Wisnubroto stated otherwise. According to him, Indonesia does not need to worry about the potential danger from the disposal of treated radioactive waste water. This is because the wastewater that is discharged has been pre-treated, and this kind of activity is commonly carried out by water-based nuclear power plants around the world.
Water-based nuclear power plants, said Djarot, periodically release radioactive waste water containing tritium into rivers or seas. This is not a problem because it is far from the required limit.
“That is what led me to conclude that there is nothing for the Indonesian people to worry about regarding the release of treated water from Fukushima Daiichi. If that is an issue, it is more towards politics than science,” he said.
So far, only the Chinese government has expressed its rejection of the planned disposal of radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The United States (US) and South Korea remain neutral.
According to him, the disposal of radioactive waste water from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant into the sea should be carried out slowly so as not to exceed the limits required by the IAEA. So far, Japan has always been known to follow procedures and process the waste water properly.
Djarot saw that the concentration of tritium in the radioactive waste water of the Fukushima PLTN that was discharged into the sea was very low, so it did not have a significant impact on marine biota.
Stuffed fish are laid out when environmental activists demonstrate in Seoul, South Korea, protesting the Japanese government’s decision to release processed radioactive wastewater from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant, Thursday, August 24, 2023. (Photo: Lee Jin-man/AP Photo)
Previously, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Teuku Faizasyah, underlined the urgency for the disposal of treated radioactive waste water to be carried out in a transparent manner. He added that Indonesia had actively discussed this issue at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) forum, which was intensively conducting inspections and studies from health, safety and environmental aspects.
The Japanese government announced plans to dump the radioactive wastewater into the sea by 2021, and has faced strong protests, especially from fisheries groups in Japan. Groups in South Korea and China have also voiced concern, turning it into a political and diplomatic matter.
Conservation groups and other activists were among those protesting outside TEPCO’s headquarters in Tokyo and locations in Fukushima as the announcement of final preparations was made.
Some of the radioactive wastewater that has accumulated at the plant since the 2011 disaster has been recycled to keep the damaged reactor cool, as the tsunami destroyed the plant’s cooling system. However, the rest of the water is stored in about 1,000 large tanks, which are filled to 98 percent of the capacity of 1.37 million tons.
The tanks cover a large part of the nuclear plant complex, requiring space to build the new facilities needed to continue the plant’s decommissioning.
Authorities say the disposal is necessary to prevent accidental leakage of untreated and undiluted water, which exceeds safety limits set by the government. (fw/em)