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Published: 01:11, August 30, 2023 | Updated: 10:32, August 31, 2023
Dumping Fukushima water into ocean is a crime against nature
By Wilson Lee Flores
Published:01:11, August 30, 2023 Updated:10:32, August 31, 2023 By Wilson Lee Flores

It is tragic and deplorable that despite widespread protests and appeals by fishing communities, multisectoral groups and unanswered questions by scientists across the Pacific Rim, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida still decided to allow the tsunami-damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant to release nuclear wastewater into the Pacific Ocean from last Thursday.

This Fukushima abomination is a blunder by the Japanese government, and a crime against nature as well as humanity, which will affect the entire Pacific Ocean. It is a unilateral action by the Japanese government that disregards not only the legitimate concerns and opposition of Pacific peoples, but also those of Japanese fisherfolk and Fukushima residents. Masanobu Sakamoto, head of the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations, said his group opposes this controversial move.

Joining protesters in Japan, South Korea, China and elsewhere, the Philippines’ fishermen federations and diverse groups. Among Filipinos opposing Fukushima are former environment and natural resources secretary Lito Atienza, Ramon Magsaysay awardee Cecilia Guidote Alvarez of Earthsavers, Ramon Magsaysay awardee Antonio Tony Oposa, Derek Cabe of the Coal-Free Bataan Movement, two large federations of fisherfolk organizations in the Philippines — Pangisda, and Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (also known as Pamalakaya) — and RJ Javellana of the United Filipino Consumers and Commuters.

The dumping of Fukushima wastewater violates human rights. Greenpeace International said on Aug 22: “Member states at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, as well as UN Special Rapporteurs, have opposed and criticized Japan’s discharge plans. Japan’s discharge plans also disregard the groundbreaking Human Rights Council Resolution 48/13, which in 2021 determined that it is a human right to have a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. Furthermore, Japan has failed to comply with its legal obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to protect the marine environment.”

Stop the Fukushima horror, save the Pacific Ocean, protect the environment

Another big issue against the Fukushima wastewater discharge is distrust and doubt. Australia’s ABC News reported: “A large portion of the Japanese public is also wary of accepting assurances from the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which has previously been less than forthcoming with uncomfortable truths about its practices following the Fukushima disaster.”

Another objection to this Fukushima fiasco is the allegation that profit motives have overriden public safety and science. The New York Times reported that according to TEPCO’s website, just 30 percent of the approximately 473,000 metric tons of water in the tanks have been fully treated to the point that only tritium remains. The newspaper quoted marine radiochemist Dr Ken Buesseler of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution as saying “The idea is, ‘just trust us’. … I think they just want the cheapest, fastest solution, which is a pipe in the ocean.” The newspaper quoted him as saying that Japan had not investigated alternative options such as building more tanks or using the treated water to make cement.

National Geographic reported on Aug 24: “Japan claims that the wastewater, containing a radioactive isotope called tritium and possibly other radioactive traces, will be safe. Neighboring countries and other experts say it poses an environmental threat that will last generations and may affect ecosystems all the way to North America. … Now, American scientists are raising concerns that marine life and ocean currents could carry harmful radioactive isotopes — also called radionuclides — across the entire Pacific Ocean.”

“It’s a trans-boundary and trans-generational event. … Anything released into the ocean off of Fukushima is not going to stay in one place,” said Dr Robert Richmond, director of the Kewalo Marine Laboratory at the University of Hawaii, and a scientific adviser on the discharge plan to the Pacific Islands Forum — an organization representing 18 island nations, some already traumatized by decades of nuclear testing in the region, which called the Fukushima nuclear wastewater release plan a Pandora’s box.

In December 2022, the United States-based National Association of Marine Laboratories — an organization with more than 100 member labs in the US or US territories — released a statement opposing the wastewater release plan. It cited “a lack of adequate and accurate scientific data supporting Japan’s assertion of safety”. The discharges, the statement said, may threaten the “largest continuous body of water on the planet, containing the greatest biomass of organisms … including 70 percent of the world’s fisheries”.

Stop the Fukushima horror, save the Pacific Ocean, protect the environment!

The author is moderator of the Pandesal Forum, a multiaward-winning writer, a columnist of the Philippine Star newspaper, an economics and politics analyst, and chairman of the Anvil Business Club. 

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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