Japan Dumps Radioactive Water in Pacific Ocean, China Demands Global Action to Stop the Ecocide
Orinoco Tribune, August 27, 2023 —
Japan has started to discharge radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean, which has generated alert and criticism even though Japan tried to justify that the wastewater was previously treated to remove most of the radioactive material. After having stored the coolant water of the Fukushima nuclear reactor for 12 years, Japan started discharging it into the Pacific, without allowing third countries to verify the accuracy of the radioactive waste “removal.”
The nuclear disaster, considered as one of the worst in history, was caused in 2011 by an earthquake that had triggered a tsunami off the northeast coast of Japan.
The wastewater discharge, initiated on Thursday, August 24, is being carried out by a private corporation, the Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), operator of the Fukushima NPP, and will be done gradually over 30 years. The nuclear wastewater that is being discharged is equivalent in volume to more than 500 Olympic sized swimming pools. According to the company, the wastewater discharge is essential for dismantling the nuclear facility that suffered the accident in 2011.
Countries around the world, and those especially in the Asia Pacific, have condemned the measure. China announced suspention of all imports of seafood products from Japan, and branded the Japanese government’s action as “extremely selfish and irresponsible.” Protests were held in South Korea, and North Korea called on the Japanese authorities to desist from dumping contaminated water into their shared sea.
Experts have opined that the wastewater discharge could be a danger to marine and terrestrial life. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has stated that exposure to these waters may increase the risk of cancer.
China demands global action
China called on the international community to demand that Japan stop the ecocide. “We call on the international community to stop Japan from causing unpredictable damage to the marine environment and the health and welfare of people around the world,” Geng Shuang, China’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, said at the UN General Assembly.
“The release of radioactive water has global implications and can in no way be considered Japan’s private affair,” Geng said. “It is extremely selfish and irresponsible for Japan to ignore global interests and openly spread the risk of nuclear contamination in the entire world, including Pacific island countries.”
He noted serious concerns about the impact of the discharge on marine ecosystems, food safety, and human health. The legitimacy, legality and safety of the Japanese government’s decision has been widely questioned on the international level.
“The Japanese side has yet to provide an answer to the international community’s major concerns about the reliability of the long-term water treatment equipment, the veracity and accuracy of the radioactive wastewater data, and the consistency and effectiveness of the monitoring program,” Geng said.
Referring to the fact that both the Japanese representative to the United Nations and the Japanese government claim that Japan’s actions follow the framework of the latest assessment report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Geng insisted that it is not a recommendation or approval by the agency of the Japanese government’s controversial decision. The IAEA chief has reiterated the same on numerous occasions.
“What they argue and how they argue it is not going to change the fact that, over the next 30 years, Japan will discharge millions of tons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean, nor will it change the fact that this will pose a huge risk to the environment and human health,” the Chinese representative to the UN emphasized.
“I would like to call on the Japanese government to consider the legitimate concerns of the affected countries and parties absolutely seriously, stop the wastewater discharge immediately, negotiate in good faith with the affected countries and parties, and manage the radioactive water issue in a responsible manner,” he added.