UPDATE - China warns of action against Japan’s ‘gambling’ over nuclear waste

UPDATE - China warns of action against Japan’s ‘gambling’ over nuclear waste

Each ton of treated water mixed with about 1,200 tons of sea water prior to release into ocean


By Riyaz ul Khaliq and Alperan Aktas

ISTANBUL (AA) – China on Wednesday warned of action if Japan proceeds with its controversial decision to release treated nuclear waste from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, calling Tokyo’s move “gambling.”

“The ocean sustains humanity. It is not a sewer for Japan’s nuclear-contaminated water. China strongly urges Japan to stop its wrongdoing, cancel the ocean discharge plan, communicate with neighboring countries with sincerity and goodwill, dispose of the nuclear-contaminated water in a responsible manner, and accept rigorous international oversight. China will take all steps necessary to protect the marine environment, ensure food safety and safeguard people’s life and health,” Wang Wenbin, spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, told reporters in Beijing.

Beijing’s warning came as Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant operator is readying to release treated water on Thursday despite opposition.

Stepping up its opposition to the move, China on Tuesday summoned Japanese Ambassador to China Hideo Tarumi and urged Tokyo “to change its mind.”

“The Japanese side is gambling with the global marine environment and the health of all humankind by forcibly promoting the discharge of nuclear-contaminated water into the sea,” Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong told Tarumi, according to Caixin Global news.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has already filled a facility, which is called a discharge vertical shaft, with the treated and diluted water.

Each ton of treated water is mixed with about 1,200 tons of seawater.

International Atomic Energy Agency said the release of the nuclear waste would have “negligible radiological impact on people and the environment” but refused to endorse Tokyo’s decision. The watchdog will regularly release information on the discharge of the treated radioactive water.

Tokyo has faced massive criticism over the move from its neighbors, especially China.

“The nuclear-contaminated wastewater released from Japan’s Fukushima (nuclear power plant) will reach the coastal waters of China 240 days after dumping, and will reach the coast of North America and cover almost the entire North Pacific Ocean in 1,200 days,” claimed a research report from Tsinghua University.

- Water terror

South Korea's main opposition Democratic Party Wednesday also denounced Tokyo’s plans.

"We strongly condemn Japan's contaminated water terror," said Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Jae-myung.

“Japan's release of nuclear-contaminated water will be recorded as the Second Pacific War," he said.

Hong Kong will impose a ban on imports of seafood from at least 10 regions in Japan.

In its first phase, Japan will dilute 7,800 tons of the treated water with seawater and the diluted water will be released over the course of 17 consecutive days.

There are some 1.3 million tons of treated water at the TEPCO complex and the operator is running out of storage capacity which has forced Japan to release the water into the ocean.

“This is extremely selfish and irresponsible, as the discharge will spread the risks of nuclear contamination to the rest of the world, and by doing so, Japan is putting its selfish interests above the long-term well-being of the entire humanity. China is gravely concerned and strongly opposed to this. We have made serious démarches to Japan,” Wang said, according to a transcript of his news conference held in Beijing.

In March 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake triggered a tsunami that struck out the backup electric supply at the power plant on Japan’s northeastern Pacific coast, leading to meltdowns in three of its reactors.

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