The reactors of the nuclear power plant in Fukushima still have to be cooled with water twelve years after the meltdown and meltdown. Around 1000 tanks are now filled with irradiated water - the absolute amount is one million tons. And it is increasing every day due to infiltrating rainwater and groundwater.
In order to dispose of the water, Japan now wants to discharge it into the sea in a diluted concentration. The island nation in the Pacific is unconcerned; the water is safe. And the neighboring countries have been given detailed and scientifically backed explanations about the project. Meanwhile, concern is growing on the mainland. Many residents in South Korea stock up on sea salt, among other things, out of concern that it could be contaminated in the future. "I recently bought five kilograms of salt," Lee Young-min, who lives in Seongnam, south of the South Korean capital Seoul, told Reuters. The 38-year-old mother of two has never bought so much salt. But she feels she must do what she can to protect her family.
Kim Myung-ok, on the other hand, was too late: He was standing in front of the empty supermarket shelves. "I came to buy salt but there isn't any left," he told the news agency. And further: "The release of the water is worrying. We are old and have lived enough, but I'm worried about the children."
The high demand for salt in South Korea has meanwhile also had an effect on the price. This rose almost 27 percent compared to the period two months ago, with the authorities blaming the weather and the decline in production.
Criticism of the disposal plans also comes from neighboring China. The People's Republic accused Japan of a lack of transparency. Accordingly, it poses a threat to the marine environment and the health of people around the world.
Although the water is first filtered, the isotope tritium cannot be filtered out. According to the operating group Tepco and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the water is diluted and the tritium it contains is harmless to humans and the environment in small quantities. If the dilution is still not sufficient or the concentration of radioactive substances is unusually high, the operator wants to stop the release using an emergency shut-off valve.
The final start of the disposal of the irradiated water in the sea is not yet certain. The head of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, wants to present his house's final examination report on Japan's dumping plans to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo on July 4, reports the German Press Agency, with reference to the Japanese news agency Kyodo. Dumping is scheduled to start this summer.
Sources: Reuters, with material from the DPA