Activist Bedi Racule. Photo: RNZ Pacific/Lydia Lewis

DUNEDIN, 28 NOVEMBER 2022 (RNZ PACIFIC) — Activists and academics are joining forces to fight plans by Japan to start dumping nuclear waste from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean.

It is scheduled to start next year and continue for 30 years.

A statement of solidarity opposing the move is being drafted following the Nuclear Connections Across Oceania conference in Dunedin, New Zealand at the weekend.

At least 800,000 tonnes of radioactive waste water is scheduled to be dumped into the Pacific Ocean over 30 years from early next year.

“We understand this is within Japan’s jurisdiction, but the Ocean is not stagnant and Pacific Islands will be at the forefront of disposal,” Pacific Network on Globalisation Deputy Coordinator Joey Tau said.

Pacific anti-nuclear activists, a Hiroshima bomb survivor and academics voiced their opposition at the event and set up a working group to tackle the issue.

International law expert Duncan Currie told the conference Japan has not considered the impacts or conducted baseline studies, which he said is which is “completely unacceptable”.

He said modeling suggests the waste will travel north to Korea, China, and then the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau.

“Japan has other options like storing the waste on land, which is costly, but countries need to take a stand now. It is an open and shut case,” Curry said.

“Very simply, any country, any Pacific country, Korea, China could take a case against Japan in the international tribunal of Law of the Sea demanding an injunction or what are called provisional measures in international law be exercised.”

Toshiko Tanaka, a survivor of the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima in 1945, urged the world to remember the suffering nuclear weapons cause.

The newly elected Vanuatu Climate Minister Ralph Regenvanu said he is against it as Vanuatu is a member of the Pacific Islands Forum which has expressed its opposition to the dumping.

Fiji-based Bedi Racule said hearing about Japan’s plans and the potential impacts has been re-traumatising as Marshall Islands residents are still facing the impacts of nuclear testing by France.

“We know a lot of people that have passed away from cancer,” Racule said.

She believes it is New Zealand that has a duty to take action, instead of leaving it up to small island nations.

“I really feel for my nations’ leaders, they’re taking on so much, they have so much on their shoulders and to be constantly fighting for survival means we don’t have time to focus on our people and develop our people. So, I think a nation like New Zealand should take the lead on Fukushima waste dumping issue,” she said.

Time and time again it is small Pacific Islands taking on these battles, Tau said.

He called on New Zealand to support this call, if it sees itself as part of “this blue continent”…. PACNEWS

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