Home Business Japan’s plan to dump radioactive water is not dangerous, prof says

Japan’s plan to dump radioactive water is not dangerous, prof says

Japan’s plan to release treated radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean will have “zero environmental impact,” according to one professor who spoke to CNBC.

Japan said Tuesday the Fukushima plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co or TEPCO, will treat and dilute the water before pumping it out in about two years. There are more than a million metric tons of radioactive water from the wrecked plant, and it will take decades to completely release them.

The move has drawn sharp opposition from Japan’s neighbors and environmental activists.

But Brent Heuser of the University of Illinois said the filtering process will remove most radioactive elements from the water, leaving only tritium — a radioactive isotope of hydrogen — that’s not harmful in small quantities.   

Photo taken on Oct. 12, 2017 shows huge tanks that store contaminated radioactive wastewater in Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.

Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

“Tritium is not dangerous in small amounts … it’s gonna be very dilute, it is simply not a concern, the environmental impact is zero,” Heuser, a professor of nuclear, plasma and radiological engineering, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Thursday.

Still, Japan’s neighbors including China and South Korea have opposed the plan. Environmental group Greenpeace as well as local residents and fishermen also raised their concerns.

South Korea summoned the Japanese ambassador in Seoul and is reportedly exploring ways to fight Japan’s decision in an international court.

Over in China, the foreign ministry criticized Japan in a statement for “unilaterally” deciding to release the water, while ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian challenged Japanese officials to drink water from the Fukushima plant.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported Taiwan saying it will continue to express its concerns and closely monitor the related developments.

Polluting the ocean