Sept. 18 (UPI) — Chinese seafood imports from Japan tumbled more than two-thirds in August after electric officials in Tokyo announced the release of treated from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant.
Trade statistics from China’s General Administration of Customs released on Monday showed that the total value of marine products imported from Japan fell to $20.4 million for August, down 67.6% from the same time last year.
The decline came after a 28.5% decline in July when China increased inspections of Japanese seafood and other maritime products for radioactive materials.
China has a long history of being Japan’s biggest customer for seafood but the decision by the Tokyo Electric Co. to discharge the water from the plant that was damaged during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, was met with condemnation by China and others.
In late August, China announced it would suspend all imported seafood and other sea-bound products from Japan.
China contacted the World Trade Organization last month about its emergency import ban. Tokyo pushed back, telling the WTO that China’s ban was “totally unacceptable” and called for Beijing to recall the decision.
The International Atomic Energy Agency defended Japan’s plan in July, saying that the treated wastewater from Fukushima aligns with its global safety standards and will have a “negligible” impact on people and the environment.
Since the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station was destroyed by an earthquake-generated tsunami on March 11, 2011, groundwater has been contaminated by coming into contact with the site.
The Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings has stored more than 1.3 million metric tons on the location in more than 1,000 large tanks.
In 2021, Japan announced it had decided on a plan to treat the wastewater that removes all nuclides except for tritium, a naturally occurring hydrogen atom that is a relatively weak source of beta radiation.
It said that the wastewater would then be diluted with seawater to reduce its tritium level below regulatory standards and released into the ocean.