TOKYO, Aug 27 (Reuters) – Tests in seawater near Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant have found no radioactivity, the Environment Ministry said on Sunday, days after authorities began dumping treated water into the sea to cool damaged reactors.
Japan began dumping water from the destroyed Fukushima plant into the Pacific Ocean on Thursday, sparking protests in Japan and neighboring countries, particularly China, which banned imports of aquatic products from Japan.
Japan and scientific organizations say the water is safe after being filtered to remove most radioactive elements except tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen.
Because tritium is difficult to separate from water, Fukushima’s water is diluted until the tritium level falls below legal limits.
The ministry’s testing of samples from 11 sites near the facility found tritium concentrations below the lower limit of detection — 7 to 8 becquerels of tritium per liter, the ministry said, adding that there were “no adverse impacts on human health and the environment.” would have “.
The monitoring will be carried out “with a high degree of objectivity, transparency and reliability” to prevent any negative impact on Japan’s reputation, Environment Minister Akihiro Nishimura said in a statement.
The ministry will release test results every week for at least the next three months, an official said.
The Japanese Fisheries Agency said tests of fish caught near the facility did not reveal any abnormalities. Saturday’s test revealed no detectable levels of tritium.
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) (9501.T) said Friday seawater near the plant contained less than 10 becquerels of tritium per liter, well below its self-imposed limit of 700 becquerels and far below the limit set by the World Health Organization of 10,000 lies becquerels for drinking water.
Tepco said Sunday it hadn’t noticed any significant change. Fukushima Prefecture also released tests at nine sites near the facility that found tritium below limits.
Tepco stores about 1.3 million tons of the contaminated water in tanks on site, enough to fill 500 Olympic-size swimming pools.
The release of the first 7,800 cubic meters, which corresponds to about three Olympic pools, will take about 17 days. It is estimated that it will take around 30 years before everything is published.
Japanese offices have received a spate of phone calls, apparently from China, complaining about the water release, the foreign ministry said, adding it has asked the Chinese embassy in Japan to urge the public in China to remain calm.
Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Edited by Christopher Cushing, Robert Birsel
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