What Are the Choices to Protect the Safety of the Sea?1)
Japan has announced it intends to release Fukushima's polluted water into the ocean in the second half of this year. The plan is to dilute the contaminated water with seawater in order to lower the tritium concentration below the standard level, and then release it. In this regard, as concerns over its safety have grown internationally, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a report that Japan's actions meet international safety standards. However, the IAEA report's credibility is being questioned because its data on the Fukushima nuclear facility published last year do not match those in the latest report. Secretary-General Rafael Mariano Grossi said, "I sincerely understand Korea's concerns. Before we reached the conclusion that there was no problem, the staff in charge of the technical role carried out the work very faithfully." This means that the IAEA has scientifically verified safety-related issues. Contrariwise, many environmental groups including Greenpeace criticized the report as unreliable. This is because the IAEA report inaccurately explained the risks, as tritium and other radionuclides may accumulate in the body. This suggests that the IAEA's final report results lack credibility because they do not clearly describe the impact of tritium on the human body.
These conflicting opinions about Japan's decision also apply to international public opinion. The EU has said it will completely lift import restrictions on Japanese sea food. They said the decision was made based on scientific evidence and the IAEA evaluation, and they trust the IAEA's final report on the effect of the release of the contaminated water. On the other hand, in the case of Korea and China, there are mostly concerns about it. According to a survey conducted by Gallup Korea in June, 62 percent said they were "very worried" when asked about the possible contamination of domestic oceans and marine products by the polluted water. This shows that more than half of those surveyed are concerned about the safety. In addition, Chinese media criticized Japan's decision for firmly sticking to its own position even though more consultation is needed. It points out that Japan has overlooked the fact that ocean discharge not only will have a significant impact on Japan but that it could also cause damage to neighboring countries. The IAEA report thus emphasized the safety of Fukushima's water, but international public opinion is showing conflicting responses to the issue. Countries like the EU have expressed a positive attitude to Japan's actions based on the report. On the other hand, countries close to Japan such as South Korea and China claim they cannot trust the safety of the contaminated water. In order to resolve these conflicts, discussions are needed on what options can be explored to protect safety internationally.
1) Han Seong-hui, "IAEA "We will be stationed in Japan to inspect contaminated water." The Minjoo party "It's a customized Japanese investigation."", SBS NEWS, July 9, 2023