It was revealed on April 14 that the Korean Government had concluded that there would be “no scientific risk” from Fukushima contaminated water release. Government officials admitted that the conclusion was “true”. Controversy is expected.
The Seoul Economic Daily, on the same day, conducted a joint interview with the office of Law Maker An Byung-gil of the People Power Party. According to the interview, a joint taskforce composed of different divisions of the Korean Government published a report titled “Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Contaminated Water and Related Situations” and discussed countermeasures.
The Korean Government evaluated at that time, “Japan has already decided how to dispose contaminated water stored in the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Only when to announce it has remained.” The Korean Government also evaluated that Japan’s contaminated water release would have only an “insignificant impact” on Korean people and environment.
According to the report, after seven expert meetings, the Korean Nuclear Safety and Security Commission determined that the performance of the Japan’s ALPS (Advanced Liquid Processing System) was sufficient. The Commission also concluded the results of radiological consequence assessment in Japan’s coastal regions were “valid." The assessment was conducted using the international standard method of the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR). When researching the radiation levels in Korean coastal areas, the detected value was 0.892-1.88mBq/kg in 2019, which was analyzed to be similar to the average values before the Fukushima accident (0.864 - 4.04 mBq/kg from 2006 to 2010). Regarding concerns on exposure to tritium, the report said, “Tritium does not have a strong biological concentration factor. Therefore, the radiation impact would be extremely low through eating seafood etc.,” and even if the contaminated water flows into Korean waters, it will be “no serious impact, as the ocean currents will disperse and dilute it.”
The Korean Government, after concluding “there is no serious impact”, has started discussions with Japan in regard to the release of the contaminated water. Government officials revealed, “The conclusion that the contaminated water’s impact is not serious is correct, however the water release could affect the safety and health of the Korean people and the problem of biological concentration has not yet been examined,” and “We had discussions with Japan based on such stance.” An Byung-gil pointed out, “The Korean Government failed to scientifically prove damages and thus could not prevent the contaminated water release, resulting solely in the increase of anxiety among the Korean people,” and “This anxiety is seriously decreasing consumption, putting the marine product industry on the brink of death. The Korean Government must accurately reveal the facts to dispel public concerns.”
Meanwhile, after the news broke, the Office for Government Policy Coordination of Korea revealed, “The Korean Government firmly opposes the Japan’s decision to release contaminated water into the sea and dose not condone any actions that threaten the Korean people’s safety,” and “Some specialists’ opinion is not the official standpoint of the Korean Government.” The term “Some specialists’ opinion” refers to the evaluation in the report by the Korean Nuclear Safety and Security Commission through seven meetings related to “the Fukushima radioactive contaminated water.”
●Seoul Economic Daily April 14th