Japan has been given the okay by UN to dump radioactive waste water into the ocean, but nearby countries are protesting that its unsafe. Is it unsafe? Is it safe?


Japan has been given the okay by UN to dump radioactive waste water into the ocean, but nearby countries are protesting that its unsafe. Is it unsafe? Is it safe?

In: 4128

It’s fine. The ocean is really big, water is an excellent insulator for radiation, and it’s not *that* radioactive.

This doesn’t even weigh on the scales of things we’re doing that are destroying the ocean. Rising temperature and increasing amounts of acidity are infinitely worse.

The plan is for TEPCO to treat, filter, and dilute the wastewater from the Fukushima reactor in small amounts over the next 30 years, so that the actual amount of radiation released at a time is minimal and well below accepted safety standards. The *plan* is safe.

The problem is that TEPCO doesn’t have the best record of transparency, and some people are concerned that the water that actually gets released may not meet the standards set in the plan. There’s also China and NK being alarmist just for the sake of being provocative/difficult/causing trouble with a western-aligned nation.

Your bones are more radioactive than the water that is being released into the ocean by Japan. Ripping out the skeletons of thousands of people and dumping those into the ocean might be something that some people would find concerning, but that concern wouldn’t be over a radioactive hazard.

The reason that other countries are “concerned” is because that “concern” is a valid reason for restricting Japanese exports under the treaties that establish the World Trade Organization.

Any country that is a member of the WTO (which is basically every country that matters) has to agree not to arbitrarily impose tariffs or other import restrictions on goods from other countries. There are exceptions to that, one of which is because goods from another country pose a health or safety risk.

The *vast* majority of environmental or health complaints that countries make against one another in the modern world have no basis in reality, but are an attempt to justify an otherwise arbitrary tariff or import restriction that is being placed on the goods of the complained about country.

The current complaints about Japan fall into this category – the countries complaining about Japan are using those complaints as a justification to ban Japanese fish – not fish from “contaminated” waters, but all fish that originate from Japanese owned fishing vessels, or which were processed in a Japanese owned plant.

Japan is a major exporter of fish to other East Asian countries, and the purpose of these complaints is to benefit the fishing industries in the countries imposing the bans at the expense of the Japanese fishing industry.

It’s fine – water cooled reactors routinely discharge tritium in effluent produced in their everyday operation. Tepco has set a limit of 22 trillion becquerels per year from this scheme which is about a quarter of discharges from individual power plants in South Korea and China – and not even a rounding error for discharges from the reprocessing plant at Cap de la Hague in France:


Terrible idea, this is how godzilla starts. But in seriousness, unless it’s raw waste material, and stored properly, it should be fine. I was all for shooting it to space as well.