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Fukushima wastewater release suspended after earthquake

The release of wastewater from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant was suspended following an earthquake, its operator said while stressing that the move was precautionary.

A 5.8-magnitude jolt struck off the coast of the northeastern Fukushima region, home to the plant wrecked by a tsunami in 2011 at 00.14am local time, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

“We have confirmed remotely that there were no abnormalities on ALPS treated water dilution/discharge facility, etc.,” Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said on X, formerly Twitter, referring to the water release process.

But “to be on the safe side, we have suspended the operations of the facilities in accordance with the pre-defined operational procedures”, it said.

Japan’s nuclear regulatory authority also said shortly after the quake that no abnormalities were detected at either the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi plant, or its sister plant Fukushima Daini.

TEPCO began releasing into the Pacific last August around 540 Olympic swimming pools’ worth of wastewater that have collected at Fukushima Daiichi since the 2011 accident, one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters.

The operation has been endorsed by the UN atomic agency, and TEPCO says all radioactive elements have been filtered out except for tritium, levels of which are within safe limits.

But China and Russia have criticised the release into the Pacific Ocean and banned Japanese seafood imports, saying that Japan is polluting the environment.

Japan experiences hundreds of earthquakes every year and the vast majority cause no damage.

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