In a decision that sparked condemnation from environmental advocates, fisherfolk and neighbouring countries, Japan announced Tuesday a plan to dump over 1.2 million tons of stored contaminated wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean.
The decision made by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's Cabinet gives Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) the green light to release Fukushima's wastewater into the sea just over a decade after one of the worst nuclear disasters in history; discharges won't begin for two years, as TEPCO prepares for a process that is expected to take decades.
Greenpeace said in a statement that the decision, which has long been contemplated but delayed due to strong public opposition, is a violation of international maritime law that 'completely disregards the human rights and interests of the people in Fukushima, wider Japan, and the Asia-Pacific region'.
Polling data from Greenpeace Japan has shown that a majority of residents in Fukushima and throughout Japan object to the release of contaminated wastewater into the Pacific Ocean. The nationwide federation of Japan Fisheries Cooperatives, in particular, is completely opposed to sea discharges.
As Al Jazeera reported Tuesday:
An official with the association of Fukushima fishermen unions told AFP:
According to the Associated Press:
Disposal of contaminated wastewater has been delayed for years by safety concerns and protests, but Suga told lawmakers that releasing it into the Pacific Ocean was "a problem that cannot be avoided" because, according to the New York Times, "the space used to store the water is expected to run out next year".
But Greenpeace's Suzuki said the Japanese Government:
According to a Greenpeace report published last month, there are 'alternatives to the current flawed decommissioning plans for Fukushima Daiichi, including options to stop the continued increase of contaminated water'.
Last year and again last month, the United Nations' human rights special rapporteurs warned Japan's government that discharging the wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the environment violates the rights of its citizens and neighbours. The U.N. pleaded with Japanese officials to postpone any decision on dumping the contaminated water into the sea until after the COVID-19 pandemic was over so that adequate international consultations could be held.
Japan's plan to release contaminated wastewater has been denounced by Beijing and Seoul.
Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director at Greenpeace International, said that the current plan for wastewater disposal:
This article by Kenny Stancil was originally published on Common Dreams, under the title, 'Greenpeace Says Japan's Plan to Contaminate Pacific Ocean With Fukushima Water Would Violate International Law' and has been republished under a Creative Commons licence.
- Remembering Fukushima: The disastrous result of Australia's uranium exports
- HELEN CALDICOTT: The truth about nuclear power - neither clean nor green
- Nuclear rockets to Mars are dangerous and unnecessary
- Joe Biden needs to re-evaluate America's nuclear power plants
- Support for ageing nuclear plants 'reckless'