Germany’s environment minister criticises Japan’s release of treated nuclear water into ocean

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16th April 2023 – (Tokyo) Germany’s Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection, Steffi Lemke, criticized Japan’s release of treated nuclear-tainted water into the ocean, stating that it cannot be “welcomed.” Lemke made the remarks during a press conference at the two-day G7 Ministers’ Meeting on Climate, Energy and Environment, which was attended by Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura.

Nishimura stated that the steady decommissioning progress, including the release of treated water into the ocean, “will be welcomed,” but Lemke disagreed, stating that the release of the treated water cannot be welcomed. The Japanese government announced its plan to release radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean in January, which has caused controversy.

The joint communique issued after the meeting noted the G7 nations’ support for Japan’s transparent efforts with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) based on scientific evidence. The communique also stated that the discharge of the treated water will be conducted consistent with IAEA safety standards and international law and will not cause any harm to humans and the environment.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered core meltdowns due to a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami in 2011, resulting in a level-7 nuclear accident. The plant has been generating a massive amount of water tainted with radioactive substances, which is now being stored in about 1,000 storage tanks. The Japanese government‘s plan to release the treated water into the ocean has been met with criticism and concerns from environmental groups and neighbouring countries.