China slams Japan's Fukushima water discharge plan

VIENNA, June 6 (Xinhua) -- Two Chinese officials on Monday lambasted Japan's plan to discharge radioactive wastewater from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the ocean, calling it "irresponsible."

File photo taken on Nov. 12, 2011 shows the exterior of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. (Photo: Xinhua)

Zhang Kejian, chairman of the China Atomic Energy Authority, told a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors that Japan's plan is not the country's private matter, but a major issue that has an effect on the global marine environment and public health.

In disregard of the legitimate concerns of its own people and other countries, Japan has neither provided a scientific and credible answer to the concerns of all parties nor fully consulted with its neighbors and other stakeholders, Zhang said, adding that it is "extremely irresponsible" for Japan to arbitrarily proceed with its nuclear-contaminated water discharge plan.

On Monday afternoon, Japan started to send seawater into an underwater tunnel built to release radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima plants into the ocean without any prior announcement, according to local media reports.

Zhang noted that Japan's discharge plan is unprecedented in terms of the large amount of nuclear-contaminated water, the complexity of the wastewater's composition and the long disposal period. The treated wastewater still has multiple types of radionuclides that exceed standards, and the effectiveness of relevant technology remains to be verified.

It is "unacceptable" for Japan to push ahead with the discharge plan without verifying the long-term reliability of relevant technology and purification equipment, Zhang said.

The Chinese official urged Japan to pay attention to the concerns of the international community, fulfill its international obligations, and dispose of the nuclear-contaminated water in a scientific, open, transparent and safe manner.

Japan should accept strict international supervision and should not undermine the authority of the IAEA technical task force or distort the task force's reports to justify its wastewater discharge plan, Zhang added.

Zhang also urged the IAEA to continue upholding an objective and impartial stance, fully listen to parties concerned and strictly implement relevant international safety standards and good practices.

The final report of the IAEA task force should not endorse Japan's wastewater discharge plan, he said.

A Japanese representative said at Monday's IAEA board meeting that the treated Fukushima wastewater is no different from the water discharged from a normally operating nuclear power plant, and that Japan's wastewater discharge plan is scientific and has been reviewed and certified by the IAEA.

In response, Li Song, China's permanent representative to the United Nations and other international organizations in Vienna, asked that "If the treated wastewater is truly harmless, why has Japan insisted on dumping it into the ocean?"

Li noted that Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry had proposed five plans for the disposal of the Fukushima wastewater along with other plans presented by experts from Japan's neighboring countries. Yet, Japan unilaterally decided to release the wastewater into the ocean without fully deliberating on the other options.

"The Japanese government's expert committee has given a clear explanation for the discharge plan: it is the cheapest option with minimum pollution risks for Japan itself," Li said, adding that Japan's selfish act will transfer pollution risk to its neighbors and surrounding environment.

He also noted that Japan had invited the IAEA task force to visit Japan for the sole purpose of assessing the wastewater discharge plan, instead of addressing all other options.

"Under this circumstance, whatever assessment or conclusion the IAEA task force may make, it will not mean that the discharge plan is the only, safest and most reliable option," he said. "Nor can any work conducted by the task force be used to justify the discharge plan."

The Chinese envoy urged Japan to address the serious concerns of the international community, dispose of the Fukushima wastewater in the safest and most prudent way and accept strict international supervision to ensure that the wastewater will not bring long-term harm to the world.