Donations to a Fukushima city surge after announcement of treated water release

Donations under a tax-cut program are surging for a city in Fukushima Prefecture following the release of treated and diluted water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the ocean.

Iwaki City officials revealed that the number of donations under the national scheme called "furusato nozei" jumped 7.8 times since the government decided on the water release on August 22. They say the city is now receiving over 300 donations a day, compared with an average of 40 before the government's decision.

They add that the daily value of donations has topped 5.2 million yen, or about 35,500 dollars. The previous daily average was around 6,100 dollars a day.

The officials say processed local seafood is the most popular gift option for donors to select in return for their contributions. The city has also been receiving messages of encouragement that convey support against unfounded rumors.

Iwaki City officials say they believe this is part of a growing movement to support the local fishing industry, which has been grappling with concerns about reputational damage. They expressed hope that people will discover the tasty seafood produced in Fukushima and Iwaki, and consider visiting the area.

Fukushima Daiichi suffered a triple meltdown in 2011. Since then, water used to cool molten fuel at the plant has been mixing with rain and groundwater. The accumulated water is treated to remove most radioactive substances, but still contains tritium.

Before releasing the treated water into the sea, Tokyo Electric Power Company dilutes it to reduce tritium levels to about one-seventh of the World Health Organization's guidelines for drinking water.

In multiple tests conducted by TEPCO, the Environment Ministry and Fukushima Prefecture since the water discharge began, the tritium concentration in seawater samples have been below the detectable level.