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Fukushima farmers fear contaminated water could hurt business 10 years after nuclear disaster By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A laboratory technician put together exams for cesium ranges in beef from cattle bred in Fukushima, at Fukushima Agricultural Technology Centre in Koriyama, Fukushima prefecture, Japan November 2, 2021. Picture taken November 2, 2021. REUTERS/Sakur

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By Sakura Murakami

IWAKI, Japan (Reuters) – Farmers in Japan’s northeastern Fukushima fear the discharge of water from the crippled energy plant there could revive considerations about contamination and once more hit the worth of their produce, undoing a decade of sluggish restoration from nuclear disaster.

Japan plans to launch greater than 1 million tonnes of contaminated water from the Fukushima plant into the ocean from 2023 as a part of an effort to scrub up the location. Although worldwide authorities help the plan, it has sparked concern from neighbours China and South Korea and apprehensive native fisherman and farmers.

“We’re just about seeing our prices go back to normal after a big drop following the disaster, but now we will have to deal with the potential reputational damage all over again because of the release of the water,” stated Hiroaki Kusano, a pear farmer and vice-leader of the native agricultural co-operative.

Last 12 months, for the primary time for the reason that 2011 earthquake and tsunami devastated the northeast coast and triggered the nuclear disaster, the common value of Fukushima pears bought in Tokyo overtook these from another prefectures, fetching 506 yen ($4.43) per kilo, knowledge from the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market confirmed.

A 12 months after the disaster, costs had been at 184 yen a kilo, 20% beneath the common of greater than 230 yen for different prefectures.

Fukushima’s produce goes via a number of checks for radioactivity, with farmers screening earlier than cargo, whereas the prefecture additionally exams recurrently.

Over the final decade, native produce has gone via a “thorough testing process, consistently” stated Kazuhiro Okazaki of Fukushima’s Agricultural Technology Centre, which has screened produce for radioactive cesium since June 2011.

Fukushima produced 13,000 tonnes of pears in 2020, making it Japan’s fourth-largest supply of the favored fruit, official knowledge confirmed.

DECOMMISSIONING

The Daiichi plant is being decomissioned as a part of a clean-up by operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (Tepco) anticipated to take many years https://jp.reuters.com/article/japan-fukushima-anniversary-decommission-idINKBN2B40XF.

Some 1,000 tanks, every 12 metres tall, crowd the location and maintain sufficient radioactive water to fill round 500 Olympic-sized swimming polls. The launch of water that when handed via contaminated areas of the plant marks a milestone in decommissioning and can unencumber house for the clean-up.

The water might be processed to take away radioactive contamination other than tritium, which can’t be eliminated. Tritium-contaminated water might be diluted to ranges that meet worldwide requirements and launched into the ocean a kilometre out from the plant round spring 2023.

Tepco will compensate for damages associated to the water launch, stated Junichi Matsumoto, an organization official overseeing decommissioning work. Tepco says it has thus far paid out some 10.1 trillion yen ($89 billion) in damages from the disaster.

“The first step is to listen to the voices of those impacted adversely by the water release,” Matsumoto stated.

Water containing tritium is routinely launched by nuclear crops around the globe. But there are extra considerations as a result of the Fukushima water has been sitting round for years, stated Toru Watanabe, a radioactivity researcher on the Fukushima Fisheries and Marine Science Research Center.

“The water has been in those tanks for a long time. The quality of that water needs to be thoroughly understood before it’s released,” he stated.

Farmers say there is not a lot they will do as soon as the water is launched. They fear about their powerful clients – Japanese consumers are famously choosy about produce and pay shut consideration to freshness and place of birth.

“All we can do is keep explaining all of the measures we have to ensure the safety of our produce,” stated pear farmer Tomoichi Yoshioka. “The final decision lies with the consumer.”

($1 = 113.6700 yen)

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