[Media Coverage] Strong Pacific Opposition Against Japan’s Reckless Fukushima Wastewater Dumping

August 31, 2023

Date: 29/08/2023

Location: Fiji
In a resounding display of unity, about 400 concerned individuals, National civil societies and regional civil societies in Fiji, and Pacific experts have joined forces to voice their vehement opposition against Japan’s ill-conceived decision to release treated radioactive water from the Fukushima power plant into the sacred Pacific Ocean. This unprecedented display of disappointment and outrage underscores the collective sentiment of the Pacific Ocean custodians who refuse to let their waters become a testing ground for the reckless actions of nuclear power states.

We reiterate the call from the Pacific collective:

“We urge the UN Human Rights Council and the respective Special Rapporteurs:

  • to initiate a new communication to Japan and, in light of the imminent threat of a discharge planned for this month, release a public Statement and give a voice to the large number of individuals who fear their Human Rights to be violated severely and irreversibly by the imminent discharge. 

  • to ask Japan not to proceed with the discharge of the nuclear-contaminated wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi NPS into the Pacific Ocean until all other alternatives, especially low-contact concrete with ALPS-treated water, are exhausted and until adequate safeguards, including sufficient scientific knowledge, exist to ensure such activities can be carried out in in a way that respects, protects and fulfill Human Rights, including the human right to a Healthy Environment, Future Generations, and Children.” ~ Pacific Network on Globalisation and civil society groups, movements, and alliances from the Pacific, Asia, and the United States share this concern. 

This joint effort is a stark reminder to Japan that the Pacific Ocean’s welfare transcends national boundaries and that the world is watching its actions closely. While Japan claims that the released water adheres to ‘safe limits’ of radioactivity, the scientific community remains divided, casting doubts on the veracity of such assurances.

The current situation raises alarming questions about the language used by purported experts. 

Tepco’s assertion that “seawater samples taken on Thursday afternoon showed radioactivity levels were well within safe limits, with a tritium concentration below 1,500 Bq/L” is deeply problematic. 

James Smith, a professor of environment and geological sciences, has claimed that “in theory, you could drink this water,” relying on unproven assumptions and theories yet to withstand the test of time and nature.

Physicist David Bailey’s confidence in the benign effects of tritium at current levels is contradicted by the uncertainty echoed by other experts.

American professor Emily Hammond, an energy and environmental law specialist, aptly highlights the inherent limitations of dealing with substances like tritium at low levels of exposure. She questions what truly counts as ‘safe’ in such contexts, emphasizing the inherent risk.

Despite assertions from some quarters, the Pacific remains steadfast in its skepticism of the impact of releasing the water. The dire warning by marine biologist Robert Richmond that there is no recourse to reverse the consequences once unleashed resonates deeply. It challenges the cavalier attitudes of those who believe they can control nature’s wrath.

Furthermore, the US National Association of Marine Laboratories’ reservations about Japan’s data, combined with environmental groups like Greenpeace referencing potential harm to marine life, underscores the widespread uncertainty surrounding this decision. The move has already led China to ban Japanese seafood, hinting at geopolitical tensions while showcasing the genuine concerns of nations directly impacted by Japan’s actions.

As the Pacific Islands Forum Chair and Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown advocates for science-based assessments, it becomes evident that this is not a simple issue that can be brushed aside. The consequences of Japan’s decision will ripple through time, affecting marine ecosystems, coastal communities, and the livelihoods of countless individuals who depend on the Pacific Ocean.

In this hour of reckoning, the international community must stand united against Japan’s hazardous choice. The Pacific urges Japan to halt its Fukushima wastewater dumping immediately and calls for a comprehensive reassessment of the potential risks, impacts, and alternatives. The Pacific Ocean and its inhabitants deserve better than to be subjected to the uncertainties of nuclear experimentation.

For media inquiries, please contact: Mere Tuilau: meret46@gmail.com

APNED Pacific Coordinator +6797325552