Fukushima Nuclear Plant

Japan’s decision to release over 1 million metric tonnes of treated radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant is stirring controversy. The government argues it’s crucial for cleaning up the facility after reactor meltdowns in 2011, aiding in decommissioning and Fukushima’s recovery. The water, containing radioactive isotopes from damaged reactors, will be released into the Pacific Ocean over 30 years. While officials assure the water will be treated, experts voice concerns about the potential health impacts due to radiation exposure. Tritium removal is challenging, and fears of poisoning fish and marine life persist, affecting regions like South Korea, China, Taiwan, and the Pacific Islands. Alternative options involve storing water longer to decrease radioactivity. The International Atomic Energy Agency predicts minimal environmental and health effects, but long-term impacts of residual radioactivity remain disputed.

UPSC Prelims Topics

  • Tritium: A radioactive isotope of hydrogen with atomic weight around 3. It poses health risks due to absorption and distribution in living beings via blood.
  • Decommissioning: The process of shutting down and disassembling a nuclear facility safely.
  • Isotopes: Variants of an element with differing numbers of neutrons, leading to varying atomic weights and radioactivity levels.
  • Radioactive Decay: The natural process through which unstable atomic nuclei lose energy by emitting radiation.

UPSC Mains & Interview Questions

  1. Why is Japan releasing treated radioactive water from Fukushima, and what is its significance in the plant’s decommissioning and recovery?
  • Hint: The water release aims to aid Fukushima’s recovery and facilitate the decommissioning process by removing radioactive water used for cooling.
  1. What are the concerns surrounding the release of treated water from Fukushima into the Pacific Ocean, particularly in terms of health impacts?
  • Hint: Experts worry that even treated water might still pose health risks due to uncertain radiation thresholds and long-term exposure effects.
  1. How has the decision to release Fukushima radioactive water impacted international relations and trade, especially concerning South Korea and China?
  • Hint: South Korea and China have expressed concerns, with South Korea even banning Fukushima-imported seafood earlier. The release raises issues about cross-border environmental impact.

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