Chinese Nuclear Plants Release More Tritium Than Fukushima?!

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Do Chinese nuclear power stations really release 10X more tritium than the Fukushima-Daiichi NPS?!

Take a look at the viral claim, and find out what the facts really are!

 

Claim : Chinese Nuclear Plants Release 10X More Tritium Than Fukushima!

People are sharing articles claiming that Chinese nuclear power stations actually release 10X more tritium than the Fukushima-Daiichi NPS! Here are some excerpts:

The Japan Times : Tritium in Chinese nuclear wastewater above Fukushima levels

The amount of radioactive tritium in wastewater from Chinese nuclear plants, recorded at 13 of the nation’s monitoring points in 2021, surpassed the maximum allowable annual amount of the material contained in treated water set to be released from the Fukushima No. 1 plant, according to public data.

In addition, this infographic has gone viral on social media, showing how four Chinese nuclear power stations are discharging 4X to 6.5X more tritium than the Fukushima NPS.

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Chinese Nuclear Plants Release More Tritium Than Fukushima?!

 

Truth : Chinese Nuclear Plants Release MORE Tritium Than Fukushima!

This is a rare example of viral TRUE NEWS about the release of treated waste water from the Fukushima NPS, and here are the reasons why…

Fact #1 : The Articles Are By Mainstream Media

First, let me just point out that many of those articles being shared are by Japanese mainstream media outlets.

While the Chinese 50 Cent Army (wumao, 五毛) and pro-CCP netizens are promoting the perception that these Japanese media outlets are biased, they provided zero evidence to back up those claims.

Unlike your typical Twitter troll, or conspiracy websites; these are major media outlets that can be easily sued by the Chinese government if they posted misinformation. Yet, the Chinese government has done nothing. Why is that?

Fact #2 : Japan Previously Published Similar Data In March 2022

Interestingly, this data isn’t even new. The Japanese government, for example, published a summary of the annual tritium discharge of several nuclear power stations around the world on 31 March 2022.

In its summary, the Japanese government maintained that the target tritium level of the treated waste water to be discharged at Fukushima would not exceed 22 trillion Becquerels per year.

This level would be higher than what the Brunswick NPS in North Carolina, the United States, but lower than many other nuclear power stations in France, China, South Korea, and Canada.

In fact, Fukushima would release 10X less tritium than the Darlington NPS in Canada, and 1/500th of the tritium released annually by the La Hague reprocessing plant in France.

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Fact #3 : Latest Data Was From China Nuclear Energy Yearbook 2022

The news report did not mention where the data came from, but after much digging, I found an 18 August 2023 IAEA circular (PDF download), which revealed the source:

[N]umerous operating nuclear facilities around the world, including nuclear reactors in the People’s Republic of China, discharge more tritium on an annual basis than the tritium contained in ALPS treated water from FDNPS.

For instance, the amount of tritium to be released annually from FDNPS is approximately 1/10 (one-tenth) of the amount of tritium released from Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant in the People’s Republic of China.

The source of that information…. <drumroll please…> was the China Nuclear Energy Yearbook 2022.

Fact #4 : Data Is Backed By Official Chinese Report

Unfortunately, the China Nuclear Energy Yearbook 2022 does not appear to be available online. However, I was able to locate an official Chinese government report for the IAEA that was published in July 2017.

The report, titled The People’s Republic of China Fourth National Report for the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, can be downloaded here – PDF download.

The official Chinese report clearly shows that the Qinshan nuclear power plant discharged an average of 319 trillion Becquerels per year into the Hangzhou Bay.

That is about 14.5X higher than the amount of tritium the Japanese government is limiting for the discharge of treated waste water at Fukushima.

Qinshan NPP Tritium
Discharge Limit
Tritium
Discharge *
2014 87.988 % 307.958 trillion Bq
2015 96.847 % 338.9645 trillion Bq
2016 88.589 % 310.0615 trillion Bq

* Calculated from the discharge in %, based on the annual tritium discharge limit of 3.5E+14 for heavy water reactors in China.

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Chinese Nuclear Plants Release More Tritium Than Fukushima?!

Fact #5 : Data Backed By Chinese Study

I was also able to locate a 2019 study (PDF download) conducted by Chinese scientists called “Analysis on the emission of tritium from Qinshan nuclear power base of china in recent ten years“.

Interestingly, this study showed ten years of data that showed how much the Qinshan power station was releasing, not only into the Hangzhou Bay water, but also into the air!

Qinshan NPP Tritium In
Gaseous
Effluents
(trillion Bq)
Tritium In
Liquid
Effluents
(trillion Bq)
Total Tritium
Effluents
(trillion Bq)
2007 46.0629 84.220 130.2829
2008 56.564 93.381 149.945
2009 35.835 74.210 110.045
2010 40.387 76.010 116.397
2011 41.245 87.790 129.035
2012 39.636 87.690 127.326
2013 57.196 114.990 172.186
2014 84.799 137.560 222.359
2015 74.300 147.650 221.95
2016 117.900 179.200 297.100

Regardless of the source – official Chinese IAEA report, or the Chinese study, it is obvious that the Qinshan nuclear power plant releases many times more tritium into the sea and the air, than what Fukushima will release into the sea.

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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