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Releasing water from nuclear disaster is wrong, says Plaid Cymru MS

25 Aug 2023 4 minute read
Fukushima Daiichi Photo by by IAEA Imagebank is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Inset Mabon ap Gwynfor

Martin Shipton

A Plaid Cymru MS has written to Japan’s Ambassador to the UK expressing concern about the release of large quantities of radiated water into the Pacific Ocean.

The water was contaminated following explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011 caused by an earthquake and a tsunami that resulted in the deaths of nearly 20,000 people.

Japan started to release a million tonnes of treated radioactive water on August 24.

In a letter to Ambassador Hayashi Hajime, Dwyfor Meirionnydd MS Mabon ap Gwynfor said: “It is with great concern that we hear of the Japanese government’s intention to release millions of gallons of radiated water back to the sea.

“Both the sea and the air connects all living beings on earth, and polluted radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi plant will inevitably find its way to each corner of the world.

“This therefore is a global concern, but it is naturally of greater concern to the communities along the cost of Japan and the wider Pacific region whose health and wellbeing will be impacted.

“I understand that the radioactive water that was stored following the tragic disaster that hit the Fukushima Daiichi plant contains tritium, carbon-14, strontium-90 and iodine-129, all of which are exceedingly dangerous for all living beings on earth.

“Furthermore it’s likely that this decision is not compliant with international maritime law.

“The Fukushima Daiichi tragedy was a disaster for humankind and its impacts will be felt for many generations to come. I am concerned that this decision will only compound that tragedy further.”

Mr ap Gwynfor asked the Ambassador what legal and scientific advice the Japanese government had received to support this decision to release the water.

The plan to release the water was approved two years ago as crucial to the decommissioning of the plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco)

But the decision has been criticised by local fishing groups fearing reputational damage.

The first discharge will total 7,800 cubic metres over about 17 days, Tepco said.


The water will contain about 190 becquerels of tritium per litre, below the World Health Organisation drinking water limit of 10,000 becquerels per litre, according to Tepco. A becquerel is a unit of radioactivity.

Japan has said that the water release is safe. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watchdog, approved the plan in July, saying that it met international standards and that the impact it would have on people and the environment was “negligible”.

About 56% of respondents to a survey conducted by Japanese broadcaster FNN over last weekend said they supported the release, while 37% opposed.

“The IAEA and many other countries have said it’s safe, so I believe it is. But fishermen are facing so many problems so the Japanese government needs to do something to convince them,” 77-year-old NGO worker Hiroko Hashimoto was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying..

Despite assurances, some neighbouring countries have also expressed scepticism over the safety of the plan, with China the biggest critic.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin called the move “extremely selfish”. He said China was deeply concerned about the decision and had lodged a formal complaint.

Wang said China “will take all necessary measures to protect the marine environment, food safety, and public health,” but did not mention any specific measures.


Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee called the discharge “irresponsible” and said the city would “immediately activate” import controls on Japanese seafood from regions including the capital Tokyo and Fukushima starting Thursday.

The ban, which will also be implemented by Macau, would cover live, frozen, refrigerated, dried seafood, as well as sea salt and seaweed.

Despite the unease abroad, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he believed an “accurate understanding” of the matter was spreading in the international community.

Japan says it will remove most radioactive elements from the water except for tritium, a hydrogen isotope that must be diluted because it is difficult to filter.

“Nuclear power plants worldwide have routinely discharged water containing tritium for over 60 years without harm to people or the environment, most at higher levels than the 22 TBq per year planned for Fukushima,” Tony Irwin, an honorary associate professor at the Australian National University, was quoted as saying.

A Japanese official said the first test results of the seawater after the discharge may be available at the start of September. Japan will also test fish in the waters near the plant, and make the test results available on the agriculture ministry’s website.

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Washington Tomas
Washington Tomas
8 months ago

Good job it’s the other side of the world then!

NOT Grayham Jones
NOT Grayham Jones
8 months ago

I think Ap Gwynfor needs to concentrate on things nearer home rather than waste his time trying to look big in matters which are no concern of his

Neil Anderson
Neil Anderson
8 months ago

This issue needs truly independent assessment – not the simple reassurance strategy of nuclear technicians and proponents like Irwin and Japan. Or for that matter the UK Government, and sadly the current Welsh Labour Government. The IAEA has a badly tarnished reputation. We cannot assume that the above parties are going to admit that anything is or will go amiss. Mabon ap Gwynfor MS is doing us all an important service. As for many across the globe, fish is a major part of my diet. That I and many of them have not yet succumbed to radiation-aggravated disease seems like… Read more »

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