NZ women’s peace group protests over imminent Fukushima nuclear wastewater release

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A Japanese Greenpeace protest against the planned Fukushima treated nuclear wastewater discharge
A Japanese Greenpeace protest against the planned Fukushima treated nuclear wastewater discharge due this month. Image: Norika Hayashi/Greenpeace

Asia Pacific Report

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) Aotearoa, the longest running women’s peace group in New Zealand, has called on the Japanese government to change its plan to release treated nuclear wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station into the Pacific Ocean.

The protest comes as Pacific leaders remain undecided over the controversial — and widely condemned — Japanese move as reports suggest the start of the wastewater release could begin in the next few days.

“Releasing more radioactive materials is a wilful act of harm that will spread further radioactive contamination into the global environment,”said WILPF in its protest letter sent to Japanese Ambassador Ito Koichi last weekend.

“The treated water contains tritium, which cannot be removed. Tritium will be dumped into the ocean for several decades.

“There has been no assessment of future biological impacts. Nor has there been a review of less expensive and safer alternatives.”

An RNZ Pacific report said today that the past, present and future Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) chairs — known as “the Troika” — had not decided if they were for or against the imminent discharge.

The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) meeting in Port Vila, Vanuatu, this week has been urged to call on Japan to drop plans for the wastewater release.

Accident reminder
WILPF reminded the Japanese government in its protest letter that after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami which caused the accident at the power station, the radioactive contaminated water was treated by a multi-nuclide removal system (ALPS) and stored in more than 1000 tanks on the power plant site.

It also reminded Tokyo of its pledge about Fukushima at the time.

The Japanese government and the operating company, TEPCO, stated that this water would not be disposed of in any way without the understanding of the concerned parties and would be stored on land.

The London Convention, which Japan ratified in 1980, strictly regulates the dumping of radioactive waste into the ocean.

“Therefore,” said the protest letter, “the release of treated water is a violation of international law.

“Such an action would also damage the trust between Japan and its neighbours and the Pacific Islands.”

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