The Korea Herald


Prime Minister nods at ‘Would you drink Fukushima water?’

By No Kyung-min

Published : June 13, 2023 - 17:08

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Prime Minister Han Duck-soo speaks during an interpellation session at the National Assembly on Monday. (Yonhap) Prime Minister Han Duck-soo speaks during an interpellation session at the National Assembly on Monday. (Yonhap)

"Would you drink Fukushima water?"

This seems to be a defining question in the intense debate over Japan’s planned discharge of the treated radioactive wastewater into the sea from the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo became the latest figure to be brought into the debate.

During his appearance at the National Assembly on Monday, he was asked the question to which he answered, “If it has undergone a scientifically proven purification process, I would. The World Health Organization and we have set the maximum tritium concentration level in drinking water at 10,000 Bq/L (becquerels per liter.)"

With Japan taking steps for the discharge and amid growing safety concerns among South Koreans, some individuals from academia have recently received attention for publicly expressing their confidence in the drinkability of the decontaminated Fukushima water. Korea faces Japan across the East Sea.

One is Wade Allison, emeritus professor of physics at Oxford University, who visited Seoul on the invitation of the state-run Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute.

At a press conference on May 15, he endorsed the safety of Fukushima water, saying he could drink it without diluting it if has gone through the Advanced Liquid Processing System.

On June 3, Park Il-yeong, a professor of pharmacy at Chungbuk National University, also said that he could drink diluted water from Fukushima.

While assuring the safety of decontaminated water, in an article published on the website of the Biological Research Information Center, the professor warned against “unscientific rumors” surrounding the controversy which he said would only exacerbate the economy and the public sentiment.

Japan on Monday began tests on facilities built for the planned discharge, pushing ahead with the plan despite strong opposition from local fishing communities as well as neighboring countries.