Japan's seafood industry on edge as TEPCO plans 24 August Fukushima wastewater release

Two IAEA experts examining recovery work at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO), the operator of the earthquake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, has announced it plans to move ahead with a controversial release of  contaminated water on Thursday, 24 August. 

A fight over the release of the water has stretched over years, with some countries, including China and Russia, promising import restrictions on fish from Japan if the release is conducted. Additionally, Hong Kong, the second-largest market for fisheries exports from Japan, has vowed to place an indefinite ban on all seafood imports from 10 Japanese prefectures, the South China Morning Post reported. Hong Kong also said it plans to publish the test results of other food from the country daily, and Secretary for Environment and Ecology Tse Chin-wan told the media that preventative measures would be necessary because Tokyo had failed to answer how it would reduce risks. 

“This is a precautionary measure. We are taking a more conservative and safer approach [by] including coastal and nearby prefectures [in the ban],” Tse said.

The ban will apply to the prefectures of Tokyo, Fukushima, Chiba, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Gunma, Miyagi, Niigata, Nagano, and Saitama, and covers all fresh, frozen, chilled, dried, or processed seafood.    

Even if the tritium does not pose a danger to human health, as promised by Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the big question is how consumers and fish dealers will respond to the latest release ... 

Photo courtesy of Gregg Webb/IAEA

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