Japan to start releasing treated radioactive water into the ocean this week
Japan will begin releasing more than 1 million metric tons of treated radioactive water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean starting Thursday.
Why it matters: Though the plan has been deemed safe by the International Atomic Energy Agency, it has faced pushback from fishing groups and neighboring countries.
State of play: The Japanese government originally announced the plan to release the treated water into the Pacific Ocean two years ago, and it's considered a key step to decommissioning the Fukushima plant, per Reuters.
- Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced at a press conference Tuesday that the treated water would start to be released on Aug. 24 if weather and sea conditions allow.
- Kishida said he had personally met with fishermen on Monday.
Zoom out: In 2011, a massive earthquake unleashed a tsunami that wrecked the Fukushima plant and caused one of history's worst nuclear disasters.
- More than a decade later, the plan to release the radioactive water used to cool the damaged reactors remains controversial.
- The South Korean government said in a statement Tuesday that though there are "no scientific or technical problems with the plan" it didn't necessarily agree with the decision, Reuters reported.
- China has also opposed the plan, calling on Japan to "dispose of the nuclear-contaminated water in a responsible manner and accept rigorous international oversight."
What they're saying: Tokyo Electric Power Company, which is responsible for the plant's decommissioning, said in a statement Tuesday that it would "quickly make preparations to commence discharge with the utmost vigilance."
- The IAEA said that it will maintain a presence at the plant to "monitor and assess these activities on site to ensure that they continue to be consistent with the safety standards."
Editor's note: This article has been updated with a statement from the IAEA.