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1st release of treated Fukushima nuclear wastewater complete, operator says

The operator of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant said Monday that it has safely completed the first release of treated radioactive water from the plant into the sea and will inspect and clean the facility before starting the second round in a few weeks.

The Fukushima Daiichi plant began discharging the treated and diluted wastewater into the Pacific Ocean on Aug. 24. The water has accumulated since the plant was damaged by a massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011, and the start of its release is a milestone in the plant’s decommissioning.

The discharge, which is expected to continue for decades until the decommissioning is finished, has been strongly opposed by fishing groups and by neighboring countries. China has banned all imports of Japanese seafood in response, hurting producers and exporters and prompting the Japanese government to compile an emergency relief fund. Groups in South Korea have also fiercely protested, demanding Japan stop the release.

TEPCO plans to release 31,200 tons of treated water through March 2024, and officials say the pace will pick up later.

The government and TEPCO say the discharge is unavoidable because the tanks will reach their capacity of 1.37 million tons next year and space at the plant is needed for its decommissioning.

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