Japan has begun releasing treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean.
The controversial, decades-long project began on Thursday, amid fresh and fierce criticism from China which slammed it as “selfish and irresponsible”.
Approved two years ago by the Japanese government and greenlighted by the UN nuclear watchdog last month, the discharge is a key step in a dauntingly long and difficult process of decommissioning the Fukushima Daiichi plant, including the removal of molten fuel.
The power plant was destroyed in March 2011 when a massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake generated powerful tsunami waves that caused the meltdowns of three of its reactors.
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) said the release began at 1.03 pm local time (5.03am UK) and it had not identified any abnormalities with the seawater pump or surrounding facilities.
But China reiterated on Thursday its firm opposition to the plan and said the Japanese government had not proved the legitimacy of the water discharge.