Korean govt to actively take on Japan’s contaminated water disposal issue

2019.08.14 12:11:15 | 2019.08.14 13:34:18

Storage tanks that contain radioactive-contaminated water at Fukushima plant. [Photo provided by Greenpeace]이미지 확대

Storage tanks that contain radioactive-contaminated water at Fukushima plant. [Photo provided by Greenpeace]

The South Korean government is upping environmental offensive against Tokyo over the latter’s ambiguous plan to get rid of radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear plant hit by the 2011 massive earthquake and tsunami.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday that it will mount a diplomatic campaign with international organizations and other coastal states to stop Japan from releasing radioactive wastes into the sea.

Foreign ministry spokesman Kim In-chul challenged Tokyo to disclose its plans on ridding radioactive water.

“We will step up cooperation with our neighboring countries that will be particularly affected by the water treatment to take on the issue aggressively,” he added.

More than 1-ton of toxic water leaked from the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima Daichi complex is stored in tanks of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), but the utility company admitted it is expected to run out of space by 2022. The Japanese government is studying several options to dispose of the water including discharge into the ocean, evaporation, electrolysis treatment or burying it underground and piping it into a stratum.

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Although nuclear experts and the Japanese government said the release of the water into the ocean is a more conventional and realistic option, the measure is faced with strong opposition by neighboring countries, fishermen and residents.

Cho Jung-sik, chief policymaker of the ruling Democratic Party, said during the National Assembly meeting on Tuesday that Japan should immediately come up with responsible solutions and comply with verification procedures of the international community. He strongly criticized the strategy to discharge the water into the ocean, saying it is a form of environmental terrorism against Pacific area states including Korea and the U.S.

Seoul and Tokyo have been in talks on the water disposal issue since the Korean government sent a statement regarding its concerns and demands to the Japanese government in October 2018.

The tensions between the two nations have been mounting since Tokyo restricted Korea-bound exports of three high-tech materials used for manufacturing chips and displays, Korea’s mainstay export items, in what Seoul believes was a retaliatory action against Korean court’s rulings that ordered reparation for wartime forced laborers on the Japanese firms. After Tokyo’s removing of Seoul from its list of trusted trade allies enjoying fast-track procedures for shipments, Seoul also dropped Tokyo from its list of white nations in a tit-for-tat move.

By Ahn Jeong-hoon and Choi Mira

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