The Korean government said it will push for the sharing of real-time information on the discharging of treated radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant via the cooperation of the Japanese government.
The goal is to continuously check if Japan releases the treated water into the ocean from the nuclear plant as planned.
“The most important thing is whether Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) will continue to follow the discharge standard once it releases it into the ocean,” said Park Ku-yeon, deputy chief of the Office for Government Policy Coordination on Friday during the Fukushima-related daily briefing.
“Constant checkups and monitoring of whether [Tepco] is properly operating its facilities and equipment is most important,” Park added.
He said that the Korean Institute of Nuclear Safety is currently combing through the third-party analysis of the Fukushima plant’s Advanced Liquid Process System (APLS) treated water that was posted on the websites of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) and Kaken, an environment analysis company that was picked by Tepco, on Thursday.
The test results are from samples collected from the K4 tanks on March 27. The tanks store the treated water and radiation levels are tested before it is discharged.
The government continues to argue that Korean fishery goods will be unimpacted by the discharged water.
“The highest level of radiation that was detected on fisheries caught on our shores since the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident in 2011 was 3 becquerel of cesium per kilogram,” said Song Sang-keun, vice minister of oceans and fisheries. “One could say it is safe,” Song said.
The international guideline level of radiation contamination on food is 1,000 becquerel of cesium.
The government announced plans for a massive campaign that would encourage consumers to buy fish products after the industry was hit by the public’s health concerns over the yet-to-be-discharged waters from the Fukushima plants.
Starting Thursday, the government will give a maximum 30 percent discount on fishery products purchased with Onnuri vouchers at 38 markets nationwide.
This campaign runs until June 25.
However, the maximum ceiling on the discount is 20,000 won per person.
Major retailers are also rolling up their sleeves to help local fishermen, with stores including Emart, Homeplus, and Lotte Mart as well as online retailer Coupang planning to give out a maximum 50 percent discount on fish products and fish meal kits at 1,700 stores across the country until July 2.
Despite scientists and experts repeatedly arguing that the discharged water from the nuclear plant is safe once it goes through the filtering system, others, particularly the Democratic Party and its leader Lee Jae-myung, has been drumming up fear.
The DP lawmakers and supporters have demanded that those that claim the treated water is safe, including government officials such as Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, drink the water if they are so confident of its safety.
During last week’s rally, DP leader Lee argued that the treated water is actually nuclear waste while calling out Oxford professor emeritus of physics Wade Allison, who said that the treated water is safe, a “quack” scientist.
Such rallying and growing fears among the public on the radiation impact of the nuclear power plant discharged water had started to impact sales at fishery markets.
“We’re all going to die,” a fish store owner told DP chief Lee during his tour of the Jumunjin Fish Market in Gangneung, Gangwon, on Thursday. “We don’t care which party does it. Please, just save us.”
Lee said while touring the market, “I was told that in 20 years of business, there has never been a day as bad as today.”
He then ordered a raw squid from a store.
“[The government] says there is no problem, but the problem won’t go away if they try to suppress the argument that there is a problem,” Lee said during a meeting with representatives of the fish market on the same day.
The PPP criticized Lee’s visit to the fish market in Gangwon made in support of fish markets when he is stoking fears about the Fukushima nuclear power plant among fishermen and fish stores.
“Yesterday when the Minister of Oceans and Fisheries met the fisherman and merchants at Jagalchi Market in Busan, they were asking the minister to stop the false rumors about the water from Fukushima,” said PPP floor leader Yun Jae-ok. “The DP and instigators refuse to stop their fear-mongering while those in the fish industry are on the verge of having their livelihoods torn apart and the public damage piles on.”
“It doesn’t make sense to tell people to buy fishery goods while saying the water is dangerous,” Yun added.
BY HO-JEONG LEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]