The Pacific Elders called Japan’s release of treated but still radioactive water into the Pacific “a brazen act of environmental vandalism,’ and that international action should be taken to initiate a lawsuit against Japan at the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).
In a statement yesterday by the Pacific Elders with its members, its members include former leaders of the Marshall Islands, Hilda Heine, Kiribati’s Anote Tong), Tuvalu’s Enele Sopoaga and Palau’s Tommy Remengesau said Japan and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)’s reckless decision to discharge over 1.3 million tonnes of nuclear-contaminated wastewater into our Blue Pacific “is a testimony to the dangers of nuclear power.”
“Now, Pacific Islanders and future generations will have to bear the brunt of Japan’s dependence on nuclear energy as the attempts to stabilize the Fukushima disaster have led to the cost-cutting measure of discharging nuclear-contaminated wastewater from land into Japanese waters, which through the accelerated spread of ocean currents will inevitably be an act of transboundary and transgenerational harm against the Pacific peoples and their livelihoods,” the statement said,
The former Pacific leaders expressed disappointment over the release of the radioactive water and set “a dangerous precedent that breaches the human rights of Pacific peoples, especially by other states who wish to engage with nuclear power and are looking to dispose of any form of toxic waste into the Pacific Ocean.’
The Pacific Elders said it joins the coastal fishing communities and civil society across Japan, Korea, and China, as well as the many in Pacific states objecting to the release of the wastewater.
Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Chair, Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown said: “the Forum will always exercise the highest levels of caution on all nuclear-related issues.”
Brown said that based on IAEA’s recommendations, the plans by Japan are consistent with international nuclear safeguards and that impacts on the environment and human health are negligible.
But he said there are still diverging views and responses in the international community and among the Pacific leaders about Japan’s release of the wastewater.
“As Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, I am committed to maintaining ongoing dialogue with the Government of Japan and the IAEA on this matter.
“As custodians of our Blue Pacific Continent, and in recognition of the transboundary and transgenerational nature of this issue, it is incumbent on all of us to ensure the highest level of due diligence and ongoing monitoring of the planned discharge,’ he stated.