South Koreans Fight Against Release of Fukushima Water In Ocean

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Seoul following reports this week that Japan plans to release the water into the ocean as early as late August.

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Hundreds of South Korean activists have gathered in central Seoul to protest against Japan’s plan to release treated radioactive water from the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean.

Japan’s Asahi Shimbun daily reported earlier this week that the country plans to release the water into the ocean as early as late August, citing unidentified government sources.

“If it is discarded, radioactive substances contained in the contaminated water will eventually destroy the marine ecosystem,” said Choi Kyoungsook of Korea Radiation Watch. This activist group organized the protest.

“We are opposed… because we believe the sea is not just for the Japanese government, but for all of us and for mankind.”

Hundreds of protesters held up signs saying “Keep It Inland” and “Protect the Pacific Ocean!” while singing songs and listening to rally organizers.

Japan’s nuclear regulator last month approved plant operator Tokyo Electric Power (9501.T) to start releasing the water, which Japan and the International Atomic Energy Agency said is safe but nearby countries fear may contaminate food.

South Korea has been trying to calm people’s fears of food contamination and environmental risks ahead of the release of Fukushima’s wastewater, including expanding radiation tests on seafood at the country’s major fish markets and even testing sand from its southern and western beaches.

None of the tests have so far triggered safety concerns, Jeon Jae-woo, an official at the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, said during a briefing Friday.

The Democratic Party said this week that it plans to file a complaint with the United Nations Human Rights Council to highlight the what it says are perils posed by the release of Fukushima’s wastewater, and question whether the IAEA properly reviewed the risks before greenlighting the discharge plans.

The safety of Fukushima’s wastewater has been a sensitive issue for years between the U.S. allies. South Korea and Japan have been working in recent months to repair relations long strained over wartime historical grievances to address shared concerns such as the North Korean nuclear threat and China’s assertive foreign policy.

In 2011 Japan had a 9.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Further Reading:

“It’s a Done Deal” Germany Turns Off Country’s Last Nuclear Plants

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