Japan scrapped a cartoon mascot meant to promote its plan to dump Fukushima nuclear wastewater into the sea

Mr. Tritium
The cartoon mascot used to promote the release of treated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear reactor.

  • Japan has pulled a mascot representing a cartoon tritium atom happily floating around in wastewater.
  • People said the cuteness of the mascot undermined a serious issue, local media reported.
  • Japan announced plans this week to release wastewater from the Fukushima power plant into the sea.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Japan has abruptly scrapped the use of a colorful cartoon mascot aimed at promoting the release of wastewater from nuclear sites, after widespread criticism.

Locals said that the cuteness of the mascot, nicknamed “Tritium-kun” – or “Little Mr. Tritium” – online, diminished the seriousness of the issue, the Asahi Shimbun reported.

The green, round-faced mascot was released as part of a Japanese government campaign aimed at promoting and explaining its decision to gradually release more than 1 million tons of treated wastewater used to cool the Fukushima nuclear reactor into the ocean.

The Reconstruction Agency, a coordinating body established by the Japanese government after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that caused the Fukushima nuclear disaster, published promotional videos and leaflets involving the mascot on Tuesday.

The agency removed the promotional materials on Wednesday, saying in a statement: “We have received various voices and impressions from people, and we will revise the tritium design based on them. For this reason, we will temporarily suspend the publication of the leaflets and videos.”

This video from Fukushima News shows clips of the now-removed promotional footage, which showed the mascot floating in a pool of water:

A representative for the Reconstruction Agency said the reason for expressing tritium as a character is that “it means friendliness. We aimed for an intermediate feeling that is neither ‘good’ or ‘evil’,” the Tokyo Shimbun reported.

China, South Korea, and Russia have criticized Japan’s plan to release the treated wastewater into the ocean, saying the water still contains one radioactive element, an isotope of hydrogen called tritium. Three independent UN human-rights experts also called Japan’s plan “very concerning.”

Japan has argued that the wastewater will be diluted far beyond recommended healthy levels for drinking water. The practice is commonly used by power plants around the world, it said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Japan approves plan to dump 1 million tonnes of waste water from Fukushima nuclear disaster into the sea, arguing that it has been treated and isn’t harmful

Fukushima thumb
An annotated aerial view of the TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in February 2021.

  • Japan approved a plan to put wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea.
  • The water has been treated, and now experts say it contains minimal radioactive material.
  • The release, set for 2023, is the latest move to deal with the aftermath of the 2011 accident there.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Wastewater used to cool the Fukushima nuclear reactor is due to be released into the ocean after treatment, Japan said on Tuesday.

It is part of the nation’s plan to decommission the power station that was destroyed in the 2011 tsunami in one of the worst nuclear disasters in history.

Japan had previously warned that it was running out of space to contain the more than 1 million tonnes of treated contaminated water in storage tanks on site.

Releasing the water in the ocean is an “unavoidable task,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said. The water will start to be released in two years, according to the plan.

The will first water be filtered to remove most nuclear contaminants. However, one nuclear product cannot be removed from the wastewater: tritium, a form of hydrogen.

Releasing the treated wastewater in the ocean would dilute this particle well below standards set by the World Health Organisation, government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said.

According to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, tritium is fairly harmless in small concentrations, but as the concentration of the particle increases, so does the risk of cancer.

“The Japanese Government’s decision is in line with practice globally, even though the large amount of water at the Fukushima plant makes it a unique and complex case,” International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) said in a statement on Tuesday.

The IAEA, an independent international organisation which provides technical support for nuclear safety and has been advising the Japanese government, said that controlled water release is “routinely used by operating nuclear power plants in the world.”

The news was admonished by China and South Korea. In a statement issued Tuesday, the Chinese Foreign ministry called the decision “unilateral” and “highly irresponsible,” claiming that it will “severely affect human health.”

fukushima map
An annotated map shows the location of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

South Korea has also condemned the decision, calling it “outright unacceptable” in a press briefing on Tuesday, the Korea Herald reported.

Fisheries have also called out the decision, saying that it might further damage the image of the quality of fish caught in the Fukushima area. Local fisheries have just returned to their functions after a decade of only catching fish for testing purposes, the Association Press reported.

The US seemed to welcome the move. In a statement, the US department of State said that Japan “appears to have adopted an approach in accordance with globally accepted nuclear safety standards.”

“We thank Japan for its transparent efforts in its decision,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a tweet.

Read the original article on Business Insider