South Korean Seawater Radiation Safe After Fukushima Release

South Korea May Complain to IMO If Japan Alters Fukushima Plan
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South Korea’s Oceans Ministry has reported that radiation levels in the seawater close to its shores remain safe, despite Japan’s discharge of contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Emergency tests carried out at four different locations within South Korea’s territorial waters and high seas demonstrated that the concentrations of cesium and tritium were well below the drinking water standards set by the World Health Organization. Vice Oceans Minister Park Sung-hoon shared these findings during a press briefing.

Since Japan began releasing radioactive water into the ocean from the power plant on August 24, South Korea’s government has conducted emergency radiation tests at around 30 locations within its waters. All samples, as reported by Yonhap News Agency, have met the required safety standards. Park also assured that domestic seafood and imported marine products have shown no traces of radiation.

To address public concerns regarding this potentially contentious discharge, the government has expanded the number of testing points from 92 to 200. The plan is to further increase this number to 243 by the coming year.

Starting from August 23, Japan initiated the process of releasing contaminated water—a procedure anticipated to take over three decades. Despite worries from neighboring nations about health and environmental consequences, Japan intends to discharge over a million tonnes of water stored at the nuclear plant over the next 30 years.

The Fukushima plant experienced core meltdowns following a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami on March 11, 2011. The resulting release of radiation led to a level-7 nuclear accident—the highest rating on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale.

To cool down nuclear fuel within the reactor buildings, the plant has accumulated a significant volume of water tainted with radioactive substances. This water is currently stored in approximately 1,000 storage tanks.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the plant, plans to initiate the initial release over the next 17 days, discharging 7,800 tonnes of radioactive wastewater. In the current fiscal year until March, TEPCO aims to discharge a total of 31,200 tonnes, equivalent to the capacity of 30 tanks.

Before being discharged through an underwater tunnel situated 1 km away from the plant, the radioactive wastewater has been effectively diluted.