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Micronesia says less afraid of release of Japanese nuclear plant water

The Pacific island state of Micronesia, one of the fiercest critics of a Japanese decision to release water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea, said on Thursday it was no longer as worried about the plan as it had been.

Micronesia President David Panuelo, in a joint statement issued with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, said he had much more trust in Japan’s intention to release some 1 million tonnes of irradiated water after treating it so it would not harm the ocean.

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“President Panuelo noted that … the FSM is no longer as fearful or concerned as previously related at the United Nations General Assembly,” the two leaders said in their statement, referring to the Federated States of Micronesia, after they met in Tokyo for talks.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station, about 220 km (130 miles) northeast of Tokyo, was badly damaged by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, sparking three reactor meltdowns.

Water used to cool reactors in the aftermath of the disaster is being stored in huge tanks in the plant.

Panuelo told the U.N. General Assembly last year that Micronesia had the “gravest concern” about the plan to release the water, enough to fill about 500 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The 17-bloc Pacific Island Forum, which includes Micronesia, last month urged Japan to delay the release scheduled for spring or summer.

Japan has said regulators have deemed it safe to release the water, which is a key step in the complex decommissioning of the crippled plant.

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Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power will filter the water to remove most isotopes although it will still contain traces of tritium, an isotope of hydrogen hard to separate from water.

But the plan has met stiff resistance from Japanese fishermen over the impact the release may have on their livelihoods. Countries including South Korea and China have also voiced concern over the release.

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