The Chinese government has responded to the recent support by the UN nuclear watchdog for Japan’s plan to release contaminated wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin criticized the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) director-general, Rafael Mariano Grossi, who claimed that the water was safe for drinking and swimming. Wang suggested that those who believe the water is safe should drink it and swim in it themselves, instead of releasing it into the sea.
During a press briefing on Tuesday, Wang addressed the issue and stated, “If some people think that the nuclear-contaminated water from Fukushima is safe to drink or swim in, we suggest that Japan save the nuclear-contaminated water for these people to drink or swim in instead of releasing it into the sea and causing widespread concerns internationally.”
The IAEA recently approved Japan’s plans to release the Fukushima wastewater into the ocean. This decision comes over a decade after an earthquake-triggered tsunami caused meltdowns in three of the plant’s reactors. With the plant continuing to produce approximately 100 cubic meters of wastewater daily, its storage reservoirs are running out of space. Japanese officials have assured that the water meets international safety standards after undergoing treatment to remove most of its radioactive elements.
Wang argued that the IAEA’s review of the discharge plan was too narrowly focused, and the conclusion was hastily reached without addressing international safety concerns. He pointed out that the agency did not assess the efficacy and long-term reliability of Japan’s treatment facilities, hence failing to guarantee that all nuclear-contaminated water would meet standards in the next 30 years. He also emphasized that the IAEA cannot easily draw conclusions on the long-term impact of the discharge on the marine environment and food safety.
Moreover, Wang stated that the IAEA’s assessment should not be the final word on the matter. He asserted, “Japan can’t just use the IAEA report as a greenlight for the ocean discharge.”
The IAEA’s finding has faced opposition from South Korean demonstrators. When Grossi visited Seoul on Sunday, protesters expressed their disagreement. South Korean lawmaker Woo Won-shik, the leader of the country’s top opposition party, accused the IAEA of being biased in favor of Japan from the beginning. He criticized the agency for its failure to thoroughly investigate the potential impact of the wastewater discharges on neighboring nations.
As the debate continues, it remains to be seen how Japan and other international bodies will address concerns regarding the release of the Fukushima wastewater into the Pacific Ocean. The issue has raised significant environmental and safety concerns, demanding careful consideration and evaluation by all parties involved.