Japan on Tuesday sought to stem the rising tide of international and domestic concerns over the continuing release of “low-radioactive water” from the quake-and-tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said in Tokyo the erection of a “fence-like structure” in the seawaters could be considered “in order to stop the further dispersions” of the radioactive substances in different directions. “It is perhaps something that can be immediately put into place.” Several other measures were also being planned now, he said without specifying them.

On Monday, the Tokyo Electric Power Company began discharging 10,000 tons [not tonnes as reported earlier] of “low-radioactive water” from the central treatment facility of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the nearby sea. Also begun was the release of 1,500 tons of “low-radioactive groundwater” from the damaged plant.

Responding to reports that South Korea and Russia had begun expressing concerns over this snap action by neighbouring Japan, Mr. Edano said: “Japan does have a general duty to prevent the pollution of the seas. However, this situation will not lead to an immediate risk of [radioactive] contamination [spreading] to the adjacent countries. … There is a treaty on the speedy notification of a nuclear incident to the IAEA and the relevant countries. So, we are voluntarily providing information. Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) has already provided the IAEA with the facts surrounding this release.” Maintaining that Japan had not violated any of its international obligations, including those under the Law of the Sea, he said neighbouring countries could be consulted, “depending on what their intentions are.” The foreign missions in Tokyo were also briefed.

On the fresh fears of seafood contamination in Japan itself, he said the monitoring of seawater was being stepped up. A NISA official, however, said the neighbouring countries, too, would be affected “directly or indirectly” because of the “unavoidable” release of radioactive water into the sea from Monday.

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