Beijing has expressed shock that Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant is still leaking radioactive water two years after it was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami.
In a stern statement yesterday after it was revealed that 300 tonnes of toxic water had seeped from a storage tank into the ground at the crippled seaside plant, the Foreign Ministry warned Tokyo to abide by a bilateral agreement to notify Beijing about the leakage.
Japan raised its severity assessment of the latest leakage, which was discovered on Monday, from level 1 on an eight-point international nuclear event scale to level 3, defining it as a "serious incident". That raised the gravity of the leak by a factor of 100.
It is the most serious incident at Fukushima since the meltdown of three of its six nuclear reactors when a massive tsunami generated by a magnitude-9 earthquake inundated the plant, triggering a nuclear catastrophe on the scale of the Chernobyl disaster 25 years ago. Meanwhile, contaminated water continues to flow into the Pacific Ocean daily.
"We find it shocking to hear that radioactive water was still leaking into the Pacific Ocean two years after the Fukushima incident," the Foreign Ministry said. "We hope Japan can take practical and effective measures to mitigate the impact."
The plant's operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, said workers may have failed to detect the leak. The company said it did not believe any of the water from the tank had reached the Pacific.
Da Zhigang , an expert in Japanese affairs at the Heilongjiang Academy of Social Sciences, said: "For China to say it is 'shocked' implies it is very frustrated with Japan. Beijing is accusing Tokyo of negligence."
Professor Lian Degui , of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said China was shocked Tokyo had devoted so much effort to politics and territorial disputes while serious problems such as Fukushima had not been properly solved.
Hong Kong's Centre for Food Safety said it continued to test food from Japan for radiation.
Additional reporting by Reuters