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Japan Suspends Fukushima Water Release After Quake

In Tokyo, Japan, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) announced the suspension of wastewater release from the Fukushima nuclear plant on Friday, in response to a 5.8-magnitude earthquake striking off the northeastern coast. The quake, occurring at 00:14 am Friday (1514 GMT Thursday), originated in the Fukushima region, notorious for the 2011 tsunami-induced devastation at the nuclear plant.

TEPCO emphasized that the suspension was a precautionary measure. Despite the earthquake, the company confirmed the absence of abnormalities in the water treatment facilities, including the ALPS treated water dilution/discharge facility.

The decision to halt operations followed predefined operational procedures, reflecting TEPCO's commitment to safety. Japan's nuclear regulatory authority also reported no anomalies at either the Fukushima Daiichi or Fukushima Daini plants.

Since August of the previous year, TEPCO has been conducting the release of treated wastewater into the Pacific Ocean. This water, equivalent to around 540 Olympic swimming pools, has accumulated at Fukushima Daiichi since the 2011 nuclear accident, considered one of the worst in history. The operation has received endorsement from the UN atomic agency, with TEPCO asserting that all radioactive elements, except for tritium within safe limits, have been effectively filtered out.

However, criticism has arisen from China and Russia regarding the release into the Pacific, leading to bans on Japanese seafood imports amidst environmental pollution concerns.

While Japan experiences frequent earthquakes, with hundreds occurring annually, the majority cause no significant damage. Fortunately, there were no immediate reports of injuries from the recent quake, and no tsunami warning was issued.

March 15, 2024 1:42 p.m. 3015

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