Japanese energy company Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) announced on Friday that it has detected traces of tritium in the ocean near the Fukushima wastewater discharge site for the first time. Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. Samples taken on August 31 at 11 points within 3 kilometers of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station showed tritium concentrations. The closest point to the discharge site, 200 meters away, had a concentration of 10 becquerel per liter (bq/l), which is a unit used to measure radioactivity.
Although the tritium concentration was slightly above the lower limit of detection of 8.6 bq/l, it was approximately 6,000 times lower than the maximum permissible level of 60,000 bq/l set by Japan’s International Commission on Radiological Protection. The detected levels were also 1,050 times lower than the acceptable norm for drinking water established by the World Health Organization.
The samples taken from other measuring points within 10 kilometers from the water discharge site showed tritium concentration levels below the lower limit of detection, which ranged from 7.6 to 7.7 bq/l. TEPCO acknowledged that these readings may vary in the future due to changing currents.
The Japanese government has consistently defended the release of treated radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima plant, asserting that it will not pose any harm to people or the environment. The wastewater discharge has been part of a UN-approved plan that started last week. However, neighboring countries such as China and South Korea have strongly criticized the move, labeling it as “irresponsible.” In response, they have imposed bans on Japanese seafood products due to fears of contamination.
Contrary to these concerns, Russia’s veterinary and phytosanitary watchdog, Rosselkhoznadzor, stated on Thursday that it did not find excessive levels of radiation in fish caught in Far Eastern seas. The organization concluded that the release of Fukushima wastewater had not compromised the safety of seafood products in the region.
As the situation unfolds, it is important to note that TEPCO’s findings indicate that the concentration levels of tritium in the ocean near the Fukushima wastewater discharge site are significantly below the permitted limits. The Japanese government’s assurances regarding the safety of the wastewater release appear to be supported by the data collected thus far.
This news brings some relief for those concerned about the potential health and environmental impacts of the treated wastewater release. While the controversy continues among neighboring countries, the monitoring and analysis conducted by Japanese experts will play a crucial role in ensuring the accurate assessment of the situation and the ongoing safety of the ocean and its marine life.