Japanese fishermen sue over Fukushima water discharge

Approximately 150 Japanese fishermen hailing from the Fukushima Prefecture filed a lawsuit on Friday in their regional district court. The defendants in this case are the government and the TEPCO company. This legal action revolves around the discharge of radioactive treated water from the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant.

The fishermen assert that the release of potentially hazardous material violates their right to fish. Despite previous protests by Japanese and South Korean citizens, this marks the first instance of a collective lawsuit being filed on this matter. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit include fishermen from Fukushima, Tokyo, Miyagi, Iwate, Ibaraki, Chiba, and Niigata prefectures.

The lawsuit contends that the government’s decision regarding the water discharge is unlawful. The primary demands in this collective lawsuit include the revocation of the permit for alterations to the water discharge plan and the conducting of pre-operational inspections of the facilities. Ultimately, the core demand is to cease the water discharge, a responsibility currently held by TEPCO.

Previously, the Japanese government stated that they had provided a detailed plan to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). Simultaneously, the head of the IAEA confirmed approval of this plan during a public meeting, asserting that it adheres strictly to safety standards established by the global organization.

The radioactive water originates from the partially damaged Fukushima-1 nuclear reactor. According to the Japanese plan, it will undergo gradual purification through a system designed to remove multivalent ions. Subsequently, it will be discharged in larger quantities, proportionally mixed with regular water, into the global ocean.

The international community has expressed skepticism regarding this plan, primarily because tritium, a radioactive substance, shares chemical properties with hydrogen and thus cannot be effectively purified or removed. To date, there are no feasible methods for genuinely decontaminating this water from radioactive pollutants, posing potential threats to global flora and fauna.

Opposition to this idea has also arisen from the governments of South Korea and China, both of which directly rely on water that could potentially be contaminated with tritium. China imposed a complete embargo on Japanese seafood following its protest on August 24th. In response, Japan allocated approximately 100 billion yen to support its fishing industry as a countermeasure.