Hacktivists attack Japanese government over Fukushima wastewater release

Claiming affiliation with Anonymous, e-hippies want more debate over radioactive flows

Entities using the name and iconography of Anonymous (EUTNAIOA) claim to have conducted cyber protests against the Japanese government for actions related to the release of wastewater from the Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant.

In an operation dubbed "Tango Down," The Anonymous Italia Collective claims to have attacked 21 government and other websites associated with the Fukushima facility, which in 2011 infamously experienced damage to three reactor cores after an earthquake and tsunami disabled safety systems.

Some of the orgs Anonymous Italia targeted include Japan’s Ministry of the Environment, Atomic Power Company, the Atomic Energy Society, Nuclear Regulation Authority, Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), Science and Technology Agency, former Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and the Foreign Press Center.

The Register tried, successfully, to access all 21 allegedly attacked websites. However, the EUTNAIOA presented a series of tweeted screenshots and links to website monitoring tools affirming outages.

The attacks follow a July decision by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to allow a million tons of treated Fukushima wastewater to be released, starting this month.

The water is present because the Fukushima plant creates around 100 cubic meters of wastewater per day the keep the reactor cool. Doing so exposes the water to 64 radioactive elements whose half-life range from negligible to 5,000 years – as is the case with carbon-14.

The waters are treated with an advanced liquid-processing system (ALPS) that the org responsible for managing the nuclear power plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), says removes 62 of the 64 radionuclides, leaving just carbon-14 and tritium behind.

TEPCO has claimed the amount of tritium equates to 1,500 becquerels per liter – the amount set [PDF] as a maximum concentration for discharge by the Japanese government.

That unit of radioactivity is one-seventh the amount designated as a maximum for suitable drinking water as set by the World Health Organization. Meanwhile, the carbon-14 content of the water currently sits at two percent of the upper limit allowed by regulations.

The treated water is stored in tanks at the site, but those vessels have limited capacity. Hence the desire to release and dilute the liquid by piping it 1km offshore for the next 30 to 40 years.

However safe the water seems to be, the EUTNAIOA quotes nuclear engineer Hiroaki Koide and points out that "diluting simply means spreading pollution over a large area" – putting sea life, and those who consume it, in danger.

Japan's pumping plan is enough to make experts in Hong Kong advise testing of seafood before consumption. Japan's neighbor South Korea said it will conduct inspections of seafood from Japan for 100 days.

According to the hacktivists, the Japanese government and TEPCO made their decision to release radioactive waters into the ocean "without adequately involving local communities and appropriate international public debate."

The group does concede that the government and TEPCO have made their decision based on the advice of international scientists. However, they have also asserted that not all in academia agree that the plan is safe.

The EUTNAIOA operatives have also accused the Japanese government of a propaganda campaign by using AI to scour social media for content critical of its plan and pushing its own narrative that the release of the waste water is safe.

The hactivists also alleged that bribes were offered to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) staff to downplay the levels of radioactive substances present in samples – assertions both the IAEA and Japanese government have denied. ®

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