- A message from KONO Taro, Minister for Consumer Affairs and Food Safety -
The discharge of ALPS treated water from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station of TEPCO and the safety of Japanese foods
As Minister for Consumer Affairs and Food Safety, I would like to talk about the discharge of ALPS treated water from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station of TEPCO, or Tokyo Electric Power Company and the safety of Japanese agricultural and fishery products.
At TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, water containing radioactive materials is purified and treated. As a result, the water that has been purified to meet regulatory standards for radioactive materials except for tritium is called "ALPS treated water". The ALPS treated water will be significantly diluted with seawater to fully meet regulatory standards for radioactive materials, including tritium.
Tritium is widely present in nature, including in rainwater and seawater, and is also taken into our bodies through tap water and food.
However, tritium is excreted with water and does not accumulate in the body, nor is it concentrated in fish and other marine products through the food chain.
Tritium is also discharged into the sea and atmosphere at nuclear facilities in Japan and abroad, in compliance with the standards of each country.
The amount of tritium planned to be discharged into the sea from TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station is less than 22 trillion becquerels per year.
In contrast, outside Japan, for example,
the Heysham 2 Nuclear Power Plant in the U.K. discharges about 323 trillion becquerels, or about 15 times as much;
the Qinshan Phase III Nuclear Power Plant in China discharges about 143 trillion becquerels, or seven times as much;
the Kori Nuclear Power Plant in South Korea discharges 49 trillion becquerels, or about twice as much;
and the Diablo Canyon Units 1 and 2 Nuclear Power Plants in the U.S. discharge 40 trillion becquerels, or about twice as much.
The tritium level in seawater and marine products will be monitored even after discharge into the sea.
The monitoring results will be provided on the Web site.
Japanese food products are inspected for radioactive materials in accordance with our standards, which are extremely strict even compared to global standards, and there are stringent safety measures in place, such as shipment restrictions.
We hope that consumers at home and abroad will continue to enjoy Japanese food products.
Thank you very much.
The discharge of ALPS treated water from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station of TEPCO and the safety of Japanese foods - A message from KONO Taro, Minister for Consumer Affairs and Food Safety -
Minister for Consumer Affairs and Food Safety
Supplementary Explanatory Material on Discharging ALPS Treated Water into the Sea from Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and Ensuring the Safety of Japanese Food Products
Eleven years have passed since Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings’(TEPCPO’s) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station accident occurred in 2011. According to a survey by the Consumer Affairs Agency, the percentage of people in Japan who have concerns about the origin of food products because of radioactive materials has been decreasing year by year, and is now around 10%.
Meanwhile, the Government of Japan has announced its policy to discharge so-called “ALPS treated water”, which is water that most of the radioactive materials generated from TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station have been purified, into the sea after significant dilution. Some of you may be concerned about the safety of Japanese marine products and other food products after the discharge begins.
So today, I would like to explain three points why there is no problem with the discharge of ALPS treated water from the TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station into the sea and the safety of Japanese food products.
First, I will explain the impact of the ALPS treated water to be discharged into the sea on the human body and the environment.
ALPS treated water is made by purifying the contaminated water generated at the TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station by removing radioactive materials except for tritium using a multi-nuclide removal system (The Advanced Liquid Processing System, [so-called “ALPS”]) and other equipment to definitely lower the regulatory standards before discharge into the environment. Since tritium is a relative of hydrogen, it is extremely difficult to remove it with existing technologies, and it remains in ALPS treated water. ALPS treated water will be diluted to far below the regulatory standard for radioactive materials, including tritium, before discharge, so the same level of safety will be ensured as at present for marine products.
In fact, tritium is widely present in nature, such as rainwater and seawater, and is also taken into the human body through tap water and food. Even if ingested, tritium is excreted with water and does not accumulate in the human body. With regards to the food chain, tritium is not concentrated in specific organisms. In addition, tritium is discharged as liquid waste into the sea and rivers at nuclear facilities overseas, in compliance with the laws and regulations of each country and region.
For my second point, we will monitor tritium concentrations in seawater and marine products before, during, and after the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea. Monitoring of marine products will be conducted not only in the sea area around Fukushima Prefecture but also along the coast of eastern Japan, and the results will be provided in an easy-to-understand manner.
The third point is that the Japanese government has set extremely strict standards for radioactive cesium in Japanese food products compared to global standards, and has systematically conducted inspections designating local governments for each item to be inspected.
Based on the inspection results, stringent safety measures such as shipment restrictions are taken to ensure the scientific safety of all food products distributed in Japan and exported overseas.
Standard values, etc., of radioactive cesium (Bq/kg)
||Codex Alimentarius Commission
|General foods 100
||General foods 1,000
||General foods 1,250
||All foods 1,200
||The Codex Alimentarius Commission is an international and intergovernmental organization that sets international standards for foods and was established by the FAO and WHO.
||The upper limit for additional doses is 1mSv for Japan, Codex and the EU, and 5mSv for the United States.
The concentration of radioactive materials in food products has decreased significantly compared to immediately after the nuclear power station accident. No values exceeding the limits have been observed for vegetables, beans, or fruits since around 2013, and for rice since the 2015 rice harvest. In recent years, there have been almost no values exceeding the limits observed for marine products.
The IAEA has also evaluated that the Japanese government's method to monitor and respond to issues regarding radioactive contamination of food are appropriate.
Although the decision of whether or not to eat a certain food should ultimately be left to the discretion of each consumer, we hope that consumers in Japan and abroad will continue to enjoy foods produced in Japan with an understanding of our efforts to ensure the safety of radioactive materials. We also hope that producers and distributors will deliver foods with confidence and without concern.