Civic groups hold protest rallies against Fukushima water release

Civic and environmental groups held protest rallies across the nation Thursday, calling for the withdrawal of Japan's plan to release contaminated water from its crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea.

Japan began the disposal of more than 1.3 million tons of wastewater at 1 p.m., according to Japanese media reports. Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the plant's operator, earlier said it planned to release 31,200 tons of the treated water by the end of March.

The Korea Federation for Environmental Movements refuted Japan's claims that the Fukushima water, if properly treated and diluted with seawater, will have minimal environmental impact, stressing that the overall amount of radioactive substances will still stay the same.

"The disposal will inevitably have toxic influence on the environment," the group said in a statement.

Other civic organizations held rallies across the country, including in Busan, Gwangju and the southern island of Jeju, denouncing Japan's decision and vowed to continue to fight for the suspension of the Fukushima water release.

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), South Korea's largest umbrella labor group, also said Japan's decision disregards the lives and safety of the public, and denounced the South Korean government as an "accomplice to the criminal act."

The labor union accused Japan of seeking the cheapest method to dispose of the wastewater, and the plant's operator of prioritizing company profits over the lives and safety of the people and environment.

The union also accused the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United States of condoning the disposal plan for their own gains.

Source: Yonhap News Agency