SUVA, 16 JANUARY 2023 (STUFF NZ) — Japan must work with the Pacific to find a solution to its nuclear waste plan or we face disaster, the Pacific Islands Forum has warned.
In a few months, Japan will start dumping one million tonnes of treated wastewater from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant into the Pacific Ocean.
Forum Secretary-General Henry Puna said Tokyo has failed to communicate and be transparent over the release.
He said they were concerned because the matter “strikes at the very heart of our Pacific people, and we will not let it go”.
This treated water was used to clean up the Fukushima plant after the nuclear accident that followed the earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011.
Puna said that over the past 20 months, forum members have been in dialogue with the Japanese government over its April 2021 decision to release the contaminated nuclear wastewater into the Pacific from this year.
“PIF members took the strong position from the outset that Japan should hold off on any such release until we are certain about the implications on the environment and on human health,” Puna told Stuff.
“Pacific peoples are coastal peoples, and the ocean continues to be an integral part of their subsistence living.”
Puna said while Japan is a Forum Dialogue Partner, it risks losing this status over the discharge plan.
Other dialogue partners include the United States, China, United Kingdom, France and the European Union who have significant co-operation, engagement and political or economic interests to participate in a dialogue with Pacific Forum leaders, Puna said.
“Japan is breaking the commitment that their leaders have arrived at when we held our high-level summit in 2021,” Puna said.
“It was agreed that we would have access to all independent scientific and verifiable scientific evidence before this discharge takes place. Unfortunately, Japan has not been co-operating.”
Japan said the wastewater was treated by an Advanced Liquid Processing System, which could remove nuclides from the water.
In a statement, a government official maintained the water to be discharged into the ocean was not contaminated.
“This is a good test of Japan’s sincerity and commitment to the Pacific,” Puna said. “Just stop and listen to us. Hear what we have to say.
“All we’re asking is for the release to be deferred until all relevant information and data is provided to our panel of experts, so they can be in a position to advise our leaders that the discharge is safe or not safe.
“If it’s not safe, pull it out and identify areas that are unsafe.”
Puna said the decision for any ocean release should not be a domestic matter for Japan, but a global and transnational one.
“It should give rise to the need to examine the issue in the context of obligations under international law.”
The U.S National Association of Marine Laboratories said there was a lack of adequate and accurate scientific data supporting Japan’s assertion of safety.
In a statement, the organisation of more than 100-member laboratories said there was an abundance of data showing serious concerns about releasing radioactively contaminated water.
The group called on Japan and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to consider the options recommended by the Pacific forum’s expert panel.
The IAEA’s third report on the Fukushima water treatment was published on 29 December urging Japan to adopt an open, transparent, science-based and safe approach in disposing the water, under strict supervision by the IAEA.
The IAEA Task Force visited Japan in February and March last year and released inconclusive reports on their findings.
In July last year, the Tokyo Electric Power Company was given the green light by the government to carry out the discharge expected to start in April…. PACNEWS