FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show Japanese Nuclear Waste Pollution In The Pacific Ocean?

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows a model of nuclear waste pollution from Japan releasing water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the ocean.

Verdict: False

The image shows a “maximum computed tsunami amplitude” model for the 2011 tsunami that hit Japan, not waste water pollution from the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Fact Check:

Japan recently announced that it plans to gradually release over 1.2 million tons of treated waste water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean starting in 2023, according to Insider. Countries such as South Korea, China and Russia have expressed opposition to the move, while the U.S. supported it, the outlet reported.

The Facebook post shows a screen grabbed tweet that allegedly contains a model of the nuclear waste water Japan will be releasing into the ocean. (RELATED: Does This Photo Show Japanese Police Spraying ‘Looters And Rioters’ With Blue Dye?)

“Japan nuclear waste water alert to all around the world!” reads the tweet. “The shameful Japanese government will soon dump the Fukushima nuclear waste water into the Pacific Ocean. This will be the biggest man-made environmental catastrophe of this century #Japannuclearwastewater #JapanRogueState.”

Through a reverse image search, Check Your Fact found that the image, which dates back to 2011, does not display what the screen grabbed tweet claims. Instead, it shows a model of “maximum computed tsunami amplitude” from the tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011, according to its caption on Getty Images. That 2011 tsunami caused the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown following a magnitude nine earthquake, the Associated Press reported.

“In this handout image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), model amplitudes calculated with the MOST forecast model are seen March 11, 2011,” reads the image’s caption on Getty Images. “Filled colors show maximum computed tsunami amplitude in cm during 24 hours of wave propagation. Black contours show computed tsunami arrival time. A magnitude 8.9 strong earthquake hit the northeast coast of Japan causing Tsunami alerts throughout countries bordering the Pacific Ocean.”

Used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Center for Tsunami Research, the Method of Splitting Tsunami (MOST) forecast model is a “suite of numerical simulation codes capable of simulating three processes of tsunami evolution: earthquake, transoceanic propagation, and inundation of dry land,” according to the NOAA website.

Images of “maximum wave amplitude” forecasts calculated with the MOST model for the March 2011 tsunami that struck Japan can be found on the NOAA’s website. The NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory also posted an animation model of the March 2011 tsunami’s global propagation on YouTube.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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