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The Fukushima controversy.

A well written article. Dr Imran Khalid raises all the important points. Definitely a must read!

Dr Imran Khalid March 04, 2023

The world is watching Japan with bated breath as the country contemplates a controversial move to dump nuclear wastewater from its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean. This decision has generated intense opposition from neighbouring countries, including China and the 17-member Pacific Islands Forum – turning what was once an “internal” issue into a global concern. The potential hazards posed by radioactive water to marine ecology and marine biology in the Pacific Ocean have now become a matter of global concern. Earlier this year, Japan announced plans to discharge over 1.3 million metric tons of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean. This decision was met with serious concerns from stakeholders due to the potential for irretrievable damage to marine life. The nuclear waste is a product of the meltdown of the Daiichi nuclear reactors in March 2011. The disaster was caused by a massive earthquake, which triggered a tsunami that inundated the reactors. The resulting nuclear waste was being stored in around 1,000 tanks, which have been reaching their storage capacity limit. The decision to discharge this contaminated water into the ocean is a cause for concern for several reasons. Firstly, it has the potential to cause irreparable damage to the marine ecology and marine biology in the Pacific Ocean. The risk of contamination spreading beyond the Pacific Ocean also means that this issue is not just a local or regional one. It has the potential to impact global ecosystems and biodiversity. Radioactive contamination can have long-term effects on marine life, which could impact entire ecosystems. This could have knock-on effects that would be felt for years to come. Secondly, this decision sets a dangerous precedent that could lead to similar actions being taken in other parts of the world. Thirdly, there are concerns that the decision to discharge the contaminated water into the ocean has been taken unilaterally, without proper consultation with stakeholders. This raises questions about transparency and accountability, and it could undermine efforts to promote responsible environmental management practices. Safe and effective alternatives for disposing of water contaminated by nuclear material from the Fukushima nuclear power plant exist, including evaporation or underground storage. However, the Japanese government has chosen to discharge the water into the ocean, which is the “least expensive” but speedy solution. This decision suggests that Tokyo’s primary focus is not on preventing or minimising harm to human health and the environment.

Moreover, it is essential that there is proper consultation with stakeholders about the best way to manage this situation. This includes engaging with local communities and inhabitant groups in the Pacific Islands, who may have unique perspectives on the potential impacts of this decision. This issue highlights the importance of responsible environmental management practices and the need for greater transparency and accountability in decision-making processes. The decision to discharge contaminated water into the ocean has caused outrage among the international community. Ironically, Japan announced its plans to discharge the contaminated water into the ocean while the IAEA task force was about to visit Japan for a review. This decision has raised concerns about Japan’s transparency and accountability in addressing the issue. Proper consultation and engagement would ensure that all stakeholders are heard and that the most responsible and sustainable solution is chosen. This issue highlights the importance of responsible environmental management practices and the need for greater transparency and accountability in decision-making processes.

The lack of independent verification of data and evidence provided by Japan also raises concerns for the Pacific islands and international organisations regarding the dumping of nuclear wastewater into the ocean. Japan’s disregard for an opposition is a significant concern, as the lack of criticism from the US and the West emboldens Japan to ignore the concerns of its people and the international community. The delegation of the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) Secretariat recently met with Japanese officials to discuss Tokyo’s plan to release contaminated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power station. While Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs assures that the water has been treated to meet regulatory standards, Pacific Island countries are deeply concerned about the potential consequences of this release. The Pacific Islanders’ connection to the ocean is fundamental to their way of life. It has molded the cultural and historical essence of their communities, and there exists an indissoluble bond between the ocean. As a result, they feel a strong sense of guardianship over the Pacific Ocean and are rightfully alarmed by Japan’s plan to release contaminated water into it. The same is the case with China and South Korea who have been continuously pursuing this issue and putting all kinds of diplomatic pressure on Tokyo to desist from such a controversial step.

The potential long-term impacts on the marine environment and human health must be considered. Therefore, Japan must get the disposal of the Fukushima wastewater right. Pacific Islanders do not want the dumping of nuclear wastewater into the ocean to become the norm. Japan must take its reservations seriously, given that even its own fishing industry is deeply concerned about the current release plan.


March 5, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Deaf ear ill befits bid for Japan’s global status: China Daily editorial

February 27, 2023

Should Japan discharge nuclear waste water from its crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean? This is a question for the international community as a whole to answer, the islands in the Pacific Ocean in particular, not just the Japanese government.

The decision to dump the contaminated water into the ocean is not just a domestic issue of Japan when there is potential danger that the radioactive water may cause lasting damage to the marine ecology and marine resources all over the world.

Earlier this year, Japan unilaterally announced that it would start discharging the radioactive water in spring or summer, just before the International Atomic Energy Agency’s task force arrives in Japan for a review.

There are alternative ways to dispose of the nuclear contaminated water rather than just dumping it in the sea, which is an irresponsible choice by the Japanese government, cheap for Japan but expensive for the world. That is what has made the international community so outraged, as dumping such a large amount of nuclear waste water into the ocean is not the only feasible way to solve the problem.

Rather than taking into consideration the possible serious consequences dumping the toxic water into the ocean may cause the marine environment, which will hurt the fisheries the Pacific island countries rely on, and heeding the calls of the international community to reconsider its decision, the Japanese government is stubbornly rushing ahead regardless.

Given that related data and evidence provided by Japan are far from independent or verified, Pacific islands and international organizations have enough reasons to voice their concern about the matter and their opposition to what the Japanese government has decided to do.

Erring on the side of caution is essential in this matter, as it will be too late when the dumped nuclear wastewater causes serious damage to the marine ecology worldwide. It is more than necessary for the Japanese government to think twice about its decision to dump the water into the Pacific Ocean. It should heed the concerns of the Pacific island countries and the rest of the international community.

Japan should seek as much assistance as possible from other countries to find a safer means of disposing of the radioactive water in a cost-effective manner. Japan needs to take a global and long-term perspective on this matter and dispose of the water in a way that causes the least environmental impact, so as to set a good example and precedent for dealing with similar nuclear accidents elsewhere. If so, what Japan has done can be a contribution to humanity.

March 5, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , | Leave a comment

World dreads Japan’s date with disaster


Photographs and videos from the site of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northeastern Japan, showing workers preparing to release nuclear wastewater into the ocean, are flooding social networking sites.

Japan plans to start dumping nuclear waste water into the ocean this spring. Twelve years after the meltdown at the plant, caused by a deadly tsunami triggered by an earthquake, Japan is all set to inconvenience the world for its own convenience.

It is clear from developments how Japan prepared for this move. Although Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, which owns the now defunct nuclear plant, promised in 2015 that it would not dump nuclear waste water into the ocean, it “found” evidence of new radioactive contamination amid the ruins in March 2021. A month later, TEPCO claimed the tanks in which it was collecting nuclear contaminated water would get filled up by the autumn of 2022, necessitating its dumping into the ocean.

The Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority, a highly “independent “agency, approved TEPCO’s plan in July 2022. On Feb 22, it approved the reviewing documents for the plan, which will officially pass after soliciting public opinion.

But the seemingly legal procedures do not make Japan’s move legitimate. On the contrary, if the nuclear waste water is “safe” after processing, as it claims, why can’t Japan find a use for it? Its leaders make apologetic gestures, but don’t want to prevent more damage from being done.

Maybe the countries and regions that are going to be affected should sue Japan in international courts, sanction the companies responsible, and even boycott products from Japan for safety’s sake. And do it while being polite all the time.

February 26, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Japan beefs up moves in seeking G7 support for wastewater dump

Action to cause irreversible damage to environment, human health: experts

Feb 23, 2023

Amid backlash from domestic and the international community, the Japanese government reportedly is to seek the endorsement of the Group of Seven (G7) nations for its controversial plan to discharge  radioactive contaminated wastewater from the crippled nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture into the Pacific Ocean. Analysts criticized countries that are giving a go-ahead signal to Japan’s irresponsible dumping plan, noting they will share the shame of making irreversible damage to maritime environment and human health.  

As this year’s chair, Japan is seeking to include a phrase that says the G7 members “welcome” its “transparent” approach toward the disposal of the treated water in a document to be released after the April 15 to 16 gathering in Sapporo, Japanese media Kyodo News reported citing government sources. 

In January, the Japanese government and the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, announced the plan to begin discharging the treated water around this spring or summer, with construction work underway to install an undersea tunnel and other necessary facilities.

Analysts said that Japan has beefed up efforts in soliciting support from the US and Western countries for its disposal of the Fukushima radioactive contaminated wastewater and in promoting its narrative of the “safety” of the wastewater amid growing oppositions from domestic public, neighboring countries and other stakeholders. 

Against the backdrop of the Ukraine crisis and current tense Korean Peninsula situation, Japan is working to create the momentum for its dumping plan especially among Western countries as other G7 nations are also members of NATO and the military pact is seeking closer cooperation with Japan, Da Zhigang, director of the Institute of Northeast Asian Studies at the Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

This is not the first time for Japan to try to include the Fukushima nuclear wastewater issue into the G7 declaration. In May 2016, after the Ise-Shima Summit in Japan, the G7 Leaders’ Declaration wrote about “steady progress on decommissioning and treatment of contaminated water” as well as “Japan’s efforts to proceed in an open and transparent manner in close communication with the international community.” 

The US also expressed support for its close ally in Asia. In April 2021, after the Japanese government mentioned the plan to release more than 1 million metric tons of treated radioactive water, the US Department of State said in a statement that Japan “appears to have adopted an approach in accordance with globally accepted nuclear safety standards.” 

However, fancy words from the US and the G7 cannot gloss over the increasing questions over the safety of the “treated” wastewater, the transparency of Japan’s processing of the contaminated water and its consultations on the disposal with related neighboring countries, analysts said. 

Pacific island nations also urged Japan to delay the release of the contaminated water over fears fisheries will be contaminated and that the health of people will be affected. For example, during a livestreamed public meeting in Suva, Fiji on January 18, the Pacific Island Forum Secretary General Henry Puna said, “Our region is steadfast that there be no discharge until all parties verify it is safe.”

At the Security Council session on February 14 over Japan’s discharge of nuclear-contaminated water, both representatives from China and Russia expressed concerns over the issue. Ambassador Zhang Jun, Permanent Representative of China to the UN, made China’s position clear, stressing that “Japan’s discharge of nuclear contaminated water into the sea will severely endanger the global marine environment, ecosystems, and the lives and health of people of all countries.”

“Japan has been bent on forcibly approving the discharge program of the nuclear contaminated water and has been accelerating the preparations for the discharge. Such behavior is extremely irresponsible,” said Zhang. 

Lingering threats

The Japanese government sees the plan of dumping the contaminated water into the ocean as the most “economic” way to get rid of the burden from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant. But people in Japan, neighboring countries and the world will pay the price given the irreversible damage to environment and human health, Zhou Yongsheng, deputy director of the Japanese Studies Center at China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times. 

The Japanese government will be condemned and held accountable if it irresponsibly discharges contaminated nuclear wastewater into the ocean and countries that give green light to Tokyo’s moves will also share the shame, said Zhou. 

Concerns expressed by UN human rights experts, global nongovernmental organizations and activists from all over the world and their own countries may make G7 countries to consider more than only political leverage, analysts said. 

As far back as 2021, independent experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council have expressed deep regret on Japan’s decision to release contaminated water into the ocean. 

They noted that the water processing technology known as ALPS had failed to completely remove radioactive concentrations in most of the contaminated water stored in tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The radioactive hazards of tritium in the water, which cannot be removed, have been underestimated and can be detrimental to humans and pose threat to the environment for over 100 years.  

Japanese fisheries and Japanese people will be the first to be affected and the whole world will also suffer as oceans are linked. If the US and other G7 nations are the real protectors of the environment and human rights as they like to trumpet, they should have opposed Japanese government’s transboundary environmental harms, said Zhou. 

As Japanese activists have staged protests against the government’s discharge plan for years, analysts called on more countries to join them and the neighboring countries in urging the Japanese government to stop making irreparable damage to the world.

February 26, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Science should guide Fukushima wastewater release plan, Pacific leaders say


SUVA – Pacific leaders on Friday wrapped up the two-day Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Special Leaders’ Retreat in Fiji, where Japan’s Fukushima wastewater release plan was in the limelight.

The PIF rotating chair underlined in a statement that science and data should guide political decisions on Japan’s proposed discharge of treated radioactive wastewater from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea.

The outgoing chair and Fiji’s Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, together with other PIF leaders, believes the decision is not as simple as a domestic issue of Japan, but concerns the South Pacific island countries and beyond.

Given that related data and evidence provided by Japan are far from independent or verifiable, the PIF has called on the country repeatedly to delay the discharge plan.


Civil society groups in Japan and many international organizations have also voiced objections to the plan, citing a lack of a practical demonstration and its potential threat to society and marine ecology.

Over the past years, fishermen in neighboring countries have staged several rallies, calling for immediate stop to the “grave criminal act” of releasing radioactive water into the sea. Within Japan, local civic groups have organized protests outside the government house of Fukushima Prefecture.

Japan’s unilateral push to discharge radioactive wastewater from its crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean is irresponsible and harmful, South Korean green activists have said.

“The Pacific Ocean is not the sea of Japan, but the sea of everybody … Pollutants will flow to neighboring countries in a situation that a lot of radioactive materials have already been released and contaminated (the marine ecosystem),” Ahn Jae-hun, energy and climate change director at the Korea Federation for Environment Movement, told Xinhua.

The Japanese government’s decision to discharge the contaminated water into the sea when there are alternatives such as long-term storage violates the precautionary principle recognized by the international community, Greenpeace Seoul Office has said. Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning network for environment protection.

“We must prevent action that will lead or mislead us toward another major nuclear contamination disaster at the hands of others,” said PIF Secretary General Henry Puna.

Take a look at how Japan proceeded with that.

The Japanese government decided in April 2021 to release more than one million tons of treated wastewater into the Pacific Ocean this spring.

Three months later, Japan greenlit the discharge plan while the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s task force was still conducting the review mission.

Earlier this year, Japan unilaterally announced that it would start discharging the radioactive water in spring or summer, just before the agency’s task force arrives in Japan for review.


Pacific island countries unanimously oppose Japan’s release plan for multiple reasons, citing ecological fragility, economic dependence on the fisheries industry, and the devastating effects of radioactive pollution caused by Western nuclear testing.

First, Pacific island countries are concerned that the released radioactive substances will spread with ocean currents and tides, risking contaminating fish. As more than half of the world’s tuna comes from the Pacific Ocean, a potentially contaminated environment could hurt the fisheries that those countries rely on.

Second, the Pacific Ocean’s delicate ecology may come under threat. If the wastewater release leads to an ecological disaster, the vulnerable island residents will leave their homes, causing an ecological and survival crisis that will deal a heavy blow to the entire Pacific region.

Last, Western countries have conducted a dazzling array of nuclear tests in the Pacific since the mid-20th century, resulting in shocking radioactive pollution and ecological disasters. These have left painful memories for islanders, who have been sensitive to the wastewater issue.

Analysts believe that Japan should not ignore the concerns and livelihoods of Pacific islanders. Neither should it dump the wastewater into the sea until disputes are settled over the legitimacy of the discharge plan, the reliability of radioactivity data, the effectiveness of purification equipment and the uncertainty of environmental impact, they added.

February 26, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , , | Leave a comment

The World’s Dumping Ground for Nuclear Waste Doesn’t Want Fukushima’s Wastewater.

Japan’s plan to discharge more than 1,000 tanks of nuclear wastewater into the Pacific has incensed island nations.

The Runit Dome, a concrete dome located in the Marshall Islands that houses tons of radioactive waste from nuclear testing in the 40’s and 50’s.

February 17, 2023

TOKYO — In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a group of tropical islands has never seen winter. But one morning 70 years ago, a loud bang followed by a flash of light made it “snow” for the first time.

Fluttery and white, the powdery material sank into the Marshall Islands’ deep blue lagoons. It lightly covered the palm trees that lined Rongelap Atoll, astounding those who came out of their thatched homes to watch it settle on roofs. Children played with it, scooping the dust into their mouths. 

But within hours, the atoll’s residents mysteriously began falling ill. Hair fell out in clumps. Skin burned. People vomited. They were evacuated two days later, but the damage was already done. Years later, the Rongelapese would suffer heightened cases of cancer, miscarriages, and birth deformities. 

This was the fallout of Castle Bravo, the U.S.’ largest-ever thermonuclear bomb test that sprinkled radioactive debris on that warm March day. Now, residents of the island nations that include Fiji, the Marshall Islands, and French Polynesia invoke the nuclear accident and its subsequent contamination to oppose Japan’s plan to release its nuclear wastewater into the Pacific.

“We have a legacy of being the dumping ground when it comes to the issue of nuclear waste,” James Bhagwan, a Fijian anti-nuclear activist and secretary-general of the Pacific Conference of Churches, told VICE World News. 

“Pacific Islanders have a spiritual bond with both land and ocean. So this again speaks to the issue of poisoning a part of us, our family,” he said. 

The comparison Bhagwan drew between the controlled release of treated wastewater and an atmospheric nuclear test gone wrong may sound like a stretch. But it speaks to how much Pacific Island nations fear Japan’s planned discharge in the coming months of more than 1.3 million metric tons of contaminated water into the world’s largest ocean. 

The nuclear waste sits in over 1,000 water tanks in Japan’s northeastern prefecture of Fukushima, the product of the meltdown of the Daiichi nuclear reactors there in 2011. 

That year, a tsunami triggered by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake inundated the power plant and knocked out its cooling systems. Since then, officials have been trying to cool the destroyed reactors by pumping over a hundred tons of water through them every day. 

But now Japan is running out of space to store this contaminated water, and is looking to release the treated liquid into the ocean this spring or summer.

Like Bhagwan, Pacific Island leaders have protested Japan’s plan. 

If it is safe, dump it in Tokyo, test it in Paris, and store it in Washington, but keep our Pacific nuclear-free.

“We must prevent actions that will lead or mislead us towards another major nuclear contamination disaster at the hands of others,” said Henry Puna at a public seminar last month. He’s the former prime minister of the Cook Islands and current secretary-general of the Pacific Islands Forum—a regional bloc of 17 island nations.

In objecting to the release, Motarilavoa Hilda Lini, a Vanuatu stateswoman, has cited the slogan of the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific movement: “If it is safe, dump it in Tokyo, test it in Paris, and store it in Washington, but keep our Pacific nuclear-free.”

Scientists disagree over the extent to which the release of Fukushima’s treated wastewater could affect the Pacific Islands. Some claim that nuclear waste could enter human food chains and contaminate fish eaten by communities outside Japan. Other experts argue that the distance between Japan and the Pacific Islands, ocean current patterns, and marine behavior will make the risk of nuclear contamination for the Pacific Islands highly unlikely. The water will get released into the Pacific through an undersea tunnel, built one kilometer off the coast near the Daiichi plant. 

Japan has insisted that the wastewater is safe to release following treatment by a system called ALPS, Advanced Liquid Processing System. The process is designed to remove all radioactive material found in the water with two exceptions: The radioactive isotopes of hydrogen and carbon, tritium and carbon-14, are almost impossible to filter out and will instead be released after the liquid is diluted to one-hundredth of its concentration with seawater.

Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO)—which ran the collapsed Daiichi plant—said it would test the waste before, during, and after the wastewater’s release into the Pacific through an undersea tunnel over the span of 30 years.

While Japan maintains that the wastewater it will discharge will contain less tritium annually than a normal nuclear facility, the country’s own fishermen and neighboring South Korea and China have protested the decision. One Chinese official dared his Japanese counterparts to “take a sip” if the tritiated water was harmless. 

Scientists who spoke with VICE World News and who are referenced in this article said that the amount of tritium Japan plans to release won’t be harmful to humans or the environment because of the small doses. And though ALPS can’t remove carbon-14, TEPCO told VICE World News that the radioactive isotope’s concentrations are well below the regulatory limit. 

But despite the general consensus that low doses of tritium, which is found also in rain and seawater, have negligible effects on health, some scientists questioned whether the wastewater to be released truly meets the level of safety promised by Japan.

Ken Buesseler, a marine radiochemist and one of five experts on the Pacific Islands Forum’s panel of independent scientists, questioned TEPCO’s ability to sufficiently remove radioactive material from the liquid. He cited how, in 2020, the company had to retreat about 70 percent of the stored wastewater because it was found to contain amounts of radioactive substances exceeding standards. 

“That doesn’t give me a lot of confidence,” he told VICE World News. Monitoring the wastewater after it was released into the ocean would be too late, Buesseler added, as once it’s in the ocean, TEPCO can’t get it back. 

He also faulted the company for analyzing only about a quarter of the 1,061 tanks and providing testing results on just seven radioactive substances out of the dozens TEPCO said it would monitor. This, he said, ignored the possibility that there would be variation among the tanks, potentially overlooking harmful levels of more radioactive substances such as cesium-137 and strontium-90.

In a written statement to VICE World News, TEPCO said potential variations among the tanks have been accounted for and that each tank will eventually be tested before they’re discharged. Not all tanks have been tested yet because 70 percent of them currently do not meet TEPCO’s standard for discharge and will be retreated. TEPCO also said it would sample the water for 69 different radionuclides before it is released and that the test results would be audited by third-party agencies it appointed and Japan’s nuclear regulator.

Despite these measures, critics say that TEPCO has had a spotty record when it comes to communicating with the public. In 2018, Kyodo News reported that the treated water still contained radioactive substances above the legal limit after it had gone through ALPS. And it wasn’t until 2020 that the power company first acknowledged that the water contained carbon-14, which can’t be removed using ALPS. 

“I saw this as an opportunity for Japan to build up trust, to take care of their waste, clean it up and demonstrate independently to the world that they’ve done that,” Buesseler said. “It’s a lot of trust, is what it really boils down to. And we’re saying, show us.”

Brent Heuser, a nuclear engineering professor at the University of Illinois in the U.S., told VICE World News he’s confident that, even if the tanks storing wastewater in Fukushima have higher levels of radioactive substances than is reported, dilution of the liquid is enough to ensure their safety. He noted that the company will discharge the water gradually over 30 years to sufficiently thin out the wastewater. 

Paul Dickman, a radiochemist who has visited Fukushima multiple times over the past decade to advise Japanese regulators on nuclear waste cleanup, supports the safe release of the treated water, although he acknowledged that the debate also hinges on trust.

“Let’s face it. I think the central government lost trust and trust is very hard to rebuild,” Dickman, a former senior official of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and current chairman of the American Nuclear Society’s external affairs committee, told VICE World News.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, an intergovernmental organization within the UN system that advocates for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, has tested the wastewater and found the plan to release it in line with global practices.

But scientists who support the discharge say worrying about the treated wastewater was ignoring the more pressing concern: what TEPCO will do with the fuel debris in the reactor vessels.

When the 2011 tsunami hit Fukushima’s three reactors, power sources and equipment used to cool the fuel inside shut down. This allowed the fuel to overheat, melting the core and other parts of the reactor. Once it cooled and solidified, it became highly radioactive material known as “fuel debris.” At the moment, it sits at the bottom of the three reactor vessels and needs to be cleaned out before the plant can be decommissioned—making it a far greater issue than what’s in the tanks, Dickman said. 

“It’s like, if you’re worrying about the air freshener in your car and you’re not worrying about the tires, then you’re not paying attention,” Dickman said. 

Though the deadline for Japan’s release of the treated wastewater is fast approaching, the country is yet to fully convince Pacific Island nations that its plan won’t be harmful. The tanks fill up day by day, swelling to their 1.3 million ton limit. 

Now, the Pacific Islands are running out of time to defend their oceans, the environmentalist Bhagwan said, warning Japan of the consequences that could lay ahead. 

“The culture of shame will be laid upon the Japanese government and the people of Japan in years to come. Do they want that to be part of their legacy?” he said.

February 19, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Japan Delays Dump Of Fukushima Wastewater. But For How Long?

The decision coincides with construction setbacks that would have postponed any discharge into the Pacific Ocean until spring or summer at the earliest.

February 16, 2023

Japan’s decision to postpone the release of treated nuclear wastewater into the ocean is giving Pacific nations and territories more time to push for other options.

But the company hired to dispose of the material is still moving ahead with preparations for the work, and told Civil Beat it expects to get the go-ahead in the coming months.

The wastewater is from the Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, destroyed in March 2011 following the Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami.

It was deemed one of the worst nuclear disasters on record.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida indicated that the nation would hold off the release until it was “verifiably safe to do so and based on a relationship built of trust and in the spirit of friendship,” according to the Pacific Islands Forum, an intergovernmental organization.

Release plans were made public in 2021 and the process was scheduled to begin early this year and continue over the course of 40 years.

Several months of negotiation and international inspections that reiterated safety concerns preceded the decision.

But Tokyo Electric Power Co. stated in an interview with Radio New Zealand that the water, treated with an Advanced Liquid Processing System, remains safe to be discharged.

The company continues to work under the premise it will begin releasing water in the coming months, a representative confirmed to Civil Beat.

After visiting Japan an independent panel assembled by PIF said there was insufficient evidence that the release would be safe.

The water has been treated to remove radioactive materials, though significant gaps in data remain and all alternative disposal options have not been fully considered, said PIF scientific panel member Robert Richmond, who was part of the delegation that visited last week. 

Richmond, director of the University of Hawaii Kewalo Marine Laboratory, has previously raised concerns about the potential interplay between lingering radioactive compounds and marine life in the Pacific, which could eventually make its way into the food system and fundamentally change the ecosystem.

Robert Richmond holds experiments on music CD at the Kewalo UH facility.

One of the compounds in the wastewater of most concern to Richmond is tritium, defined by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission as a “mildly radioactive isotope,” which is already released from operational nuclear power stations globally. 

Richmond says he was not entirely satisfied with the level of research and data Japan could provide to the panel, despite TEPCO experimenting with flounder to assess whether there had been a change in the fish. 

“When people try to trivialize the seriousness of that, that becomes very concerning for us,” Richmond said in an interview.

Company Moves Forward With Plan

Under the direction of the Japanese government, five methods of disposal were considered.

The final options were steam release, and discharging the treated water over time to dilute its contents. Releasing treated water into the ocean was selected and supported by the International Atomic Energy Agency

The scientific panel though has continually raised questions over the apparent rush to dispose of the wastewater, given fears over contamination. 

Tritium, the key radioactive compound in the liquid, has a half-life of 12.3 years, so encasing the treated water in concrete would deal with the issue without risking potential fallout in the Pacific. 

“I felt a sense of relief. That was very fleeting.” – Former CNMI Rep. Sheila Babauta

Richmond says science is developing faster than international standards and regulations, which means current standards may not reflect the best possible solution.

“If they can guarantee and swear that the water will be totally safe by all standards, then why are they still averse to keeping it on site, binding it up in concrete so that it can’t get into people and can’t get into oceanic organisms, rather than making it the transboundary issue it is?” Richmond said. 

TEPCO reiterated that it was following the basic policy set by the Japanese government in April 2021, and that it would “move forward with the construction of discharge facilities with the aim of commencing ocean discharge within approximately two years.”

The power company said construction delays mean the release may not happen until spring or summer, the Associated Press reported

Does Delay Still Mean Inevitable?

Japan has faced pushback from China and South Korea, as well as U.S. territorial governments in the Pacific, despite the U.S. Department of State’s statement that Japan had “been transparent about its decision,” in 2021. 

The House of Representatives in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands introduced a resolution six months later, opposing nuclear testing and waste storage or disposal in the Pacific. The U.S. Territory has its own history with Japan, which planned to dump 10,000 drums of nuclear waste near its waters in the 1970s.

Along with years of nuclear testing and still-lingering waste and pollution from World War II, such treatment of the Pacific region informs current misgivings.

Former CNMI Rep. Sheila Babauta.

Former CNMI House Rep. Sheila Babauta, who introduced the resolution, says that cooperation and engagement with large international institutions such as the U.S. military, at least within Micronesia, have historically been opaque.

“I felt a sense of relief. That was very fleeting,” Babauta said in an interview. “We’ve engaged very much with the world around us and have been burned many times. And so it does come with trauma.”

The delay buys Pacific nations time to rally, organize and educate the region on the risks associated with the wastewater release, Babauta says.

But just how long they have is uncertain. 

The decision to delay has curried some favor however from the Federated States of Micronesia, who had voiced opposition to the Japanese plan in September.

Richard Clark, special advisor to the FSM President David Panuelo, said in an email statement that the country was buoyed by Japan’s decision to delay until other Pacific nations “attain the same level of trust in Japan’s intentions and capabilities.”

The Pacific Action Network on Globalisation, a Fiji-based regional watchdog, was concerned that Pacific nations would be in a difficult predicament because Japan is a major regional donor. 

But Joey Tau, deputy coordinator of PANG, says that conundrum pales in comparison to the environmental effects of releasing the wastewater into the Pacific, as forecast by the PIF scientific panel. 

“If Japan decides to go ahead, we will see it as a fundamental breach of human rights,” Tau said in an interview. “We really hope that all other options are exhausted.”


February 19, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

93% of S. Koreans concerned over safety of food from Fukushima region: survey

February 15, 2023

A recent survey conducted by Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun has revealed differing opinions over how safe it is to eat food produced in the Fukushima region. In an internet poll of 3-thousand people released on Tuesday, 93-percent of Koreans asked felt it would be “dangerous” to eat food produced in the Fukushima area. On the other hand, 36-percent of Japanese residents felt it would be unsafe to do so. People from other parts of the world also took part in the survey, with 87 percent of Chinese respondents expressing concerns over food from Fukushima. Japan is set to release contaminated water into the sea from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in the coming months.

February 19, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima: Japan insists release of 1.3m tonnes of ‘treated’ water is safe

Neighbouring countries and local fishers express concern as 12th anniversary of nuclear disaster looms

Workers in hazmat suits remove radioactive materials from contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Wed 15 Feb 2023

Almost 12 years have passed since the strongest earthquake in Japan’s recorded history resulted in a tsunami that killed more than 18,000 people along its north-east coast.

As the country prepares to mark the 11 March anniversary, one of the disaster’s most troubling legacies is about to come into full view with the release of more than 1m tonnes of “treated” water from the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The tsunami knocked out the plant’s backup electricity supply, leading to meltdowns in three of its reactors, in the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chornobyl 25 years earlier.

Much has changed since the Guardian’s first visit to the plant in 2012, when the cleanup had barely begun and visitors were required to wear protective clothing and full-face masks. Atmospheric radiation levels have dropped, damaged reactor buildings have been reinforced and robots have identified melted fuel in the basements.

But as the Guardian learned on a recent visit, progress on decommissioning – a process that could take four decades – is being held up by the accumulation of huge quantities of water that is used to cool the damaged reactor cores.

Now, 1.3m tonnes of water – enough to fill about 500 Olympic-sized swimming pools – is being stored in 1,000 tanks that cover huge swathes of the complex. And space is running out.

Two steel pillars protruding from the sea a kilometre from the shore mark the spot where, later this year, the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power [Tepco], plans to begin releasing the water into the Pacific Ocean, in the most controversial step in the Fukushima Daiichi cleanup to date.

The decision comes more than two years after Japan’s government approved the release of the water, which is treated using on-site technology to remove most radioactive materials. But the water still contains tritium, a naturally occurring radioactive form of hydrogen that is technically difficult to separate from water.

The discharge, which is due to begin in the spring or summer, will take place in defiance of local fishing communities, who say it will destroy more than a decade of work to rebuild their industry. Neighbouring countries have also voiced opposition.

The government and Tepco claim the environmental and health impacts will be negligible because the treated water will be released gradually after it has been diluted by large amounts of seawater. The International Atomic Energy Agency says nuclear plants around the world use a similar process to dispose of wastewater containing low-level concentrations of tritium and other radionuclides.

Tepco and government officials who guided a small group of journalists around Fukushima Daiichi this month insisted the science supports their plans to pump the “treated” water – they object to media reports describing it as contaminated – into the ocean.

The water will be treated and, if necessary, treated again until tritium levels have fallen below government limits, said Hikaru Kuroda, a Tepco official overseeing the decontamination and decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi. “By the time the liquid is diluted with seawater, tritium levels will be at less than 1,500 becquerels per litre, or 1/40th of the government standard for discharging water into the environment,” he said.

“We will have contaminated water on the site for as long as we have to cool the reactor basements. And we will release the water very slowly to begin with, so we could be looking at something like 20 to 30 years to complete the process.”

The fiercest opposition has come from Fukushima’s fishers, who say releasing the water risks destroying their livelihoods because consumers will shun their catch and send prices plummeting.

“Even though it is safe, it could still harm sales of Fukushima seafood and lower prices, which is what happened 12 years ago,” conceded Junichi Matsumoto, Tepco’s chief officer for the management of treated water. “We know fishing communities are worried … that’s why we and the government are working on addressing the potential reputational damage.”

The Fukushima prefectural government says that, post-disaster, its food safety standards are among the strictest in the world. The government-set upper limit for radioactive caesium in ordinary foodstuffs such as meat and vegetables is 100 becquerels a kilogram, compared with 1,250Bq/kg in the EU and 1,200Bq/kg in the US.

While officials attempt to reassure the public and other countries that Fukushima produce is safe for consumers, Tepco and the government have embarked on a PR offensive, holding regular briefings on the water discharge for Tokyo-based diplomats and journalists, and running ads on TV, in newspapers and online.

“We take other countries’ concerns seriously, which is why we are using every possible opportunity to explain the discharge plan to them,” said Ayako Ogino, a foreign ministry official. “We have made a commitment to discharge the water without harming the environment or human health. To describe the water as contaminated is erroneous, as it implies that it will harm the environment.”

The campaign has had mixed results. South Korea and China have voiced opposition to the discharge, while the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) said recently it had “grave concerns”.

Environmental groups have challenged the Japanese government’s claims that the water will not affect marine life or human health, while the US National Association of Marine Laboratories has pointed to a lack of adequate and accurate scientific data to support its reassurances on safety.

The water release plan received a boost this month, however, when Micronesia, a member of the PIF, dropped its opposition to the water discharge. Its president, David Panuelo, said in Tokyo that his country was “no longer fearful or concerned about this issue now as we trust in Japan’s intention and technological capabilities in not harming our shared oceanic interests”.

Japanese officials have ruled out other options, including long-term storage underground or evaporation, and insist nothing will stand in the way of the discharge plans. “The biggest obstacle to decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi is the debris [inside the reactors],” said Atsushi Wakui, a nuclear accident official at the economy, trade and industry ministry.

“Securing the site so we can begin removing the melted fuel is absolutely essential, and that means urgently addressing the water problem. There are more than 1,000 tanks of water here, and they need to go.”

February 19, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , | Leave a comment

NRA delays easing reactor rules after one expert objects

Akira Ishiwatari, a commissioner of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, raises opposition to the government’s plan to ease safety regulations for reactors at a meeting on Feb. 8.

February 9, 2023

A Nuclear Regulation Authority panel member objected to the government’s draft policy to lift the 40-year cap on the lifespan of nuclear reactors, forcing official approval to be delayed. 

Akira Ishiwatari, one of the five members of the NRA, said at a Feb. 8 meeting that dropping the restriction on reactors’ operation periods at 40 years, in principle, and a maximum 60 years from the nuclear reactor regulation law, is not a “change to make them safer.”

Ishiwatari, a former professor of geology at Tohoku University and head of the Geological Society of Japan, is tasked with studying plant operators’ measures to safeguard reactors from earthquakes and tsunami. He has been on the NRA since 2014.

Under the more stringent reactor regulations introduced in 2013 following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, the life of a reactor was limited to 40 years, in principle, to enhance the safety of nuclear facilities. But it can operate 20 more years, including the period when they were shut down for safety checks or court injunctions, if found safe to do so by the NRA.

The Kishida administration compiled a plan to ease the rules last month that would allow reactors to serve beyond the maximum 60-year limit by excluding the time when they were offline.

For example, the lifespan of a reactor that remained idle for 10 years would be extended to 70 years in total.

Ishiwatari noted that some reactors have been shut down for many years due to the NRA’s prolonged safety examinations for their restart.

But he expressed concern that excluding the shutdown period from the maximum 60-year rule would lead to the activation of more aged units.

With his objection, NRA Chairman Shinsuke Yamanaka decided to postpone the panel’s approval of the government policy for more discussion on the issue. 

A majority of the public opposes the easing of the reactor restrictions.

At the NRA meeting, it was reported that most of the 2,016 opinions received from the public over the government plan were critical.

Still, the NRA initially planned to back the government policy to remove the cap and install a system that would require a reactor to undergo safety checks in under every decade once it reaches 30 years in service.

February 13, 2023 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan Plans to Dump Fukushima Wastewater Into a Pacific With a Toxic Nuclear History

Storage tanks for contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, Jan. 20, 2023.

February 6, 2023

Pacific Island nations have for decades been grappling with the environmental and health consequences of Cold War-era nuclear testing in the region by the likes of the U.S. and France. Now, they worry about another kind of nuclear danger from neighbors much closer to home.

As concerns over energy security and the desire to transition away from fossil fuels pushes several Asian nations to reconsider once-scrapped nuclear power programs, there is increasing anxiety over how the waste from those facilities—depending on the methods of disposal—might impact the lives of Pacific Islanders.

Notably, in the region, Philippines President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos said in his first address to Congress in mid-2022 that he was open to adding nuclear energy to the country’s energy mix, the Indonesian government said in December it plans to build a nuclear power plant by 2039, and weeks later Japan announced that it plans to ramp up the use of nuclear energy.

Nuclear plants have long been touted as a reliable source of carbon-free energy, though many plants across the world had been shuttered in past decades over worries about the safety of nuclear waste disposal. In this new era of nuclear revival, similar uncertainties abound.

In Japan, one plant that isn’t even operational has become the frontline for the fight between activists seeking safety assurances for waste disposal and operators who are running out of space in on-site tanks to store the wastewater accumulating from keeping damaged reactors cool. Currently, Japan plans to release wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean later this year.

“It’s just horrendous to think what it might mean,” says Henry Puna, the secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), a regional intergovernmental organization that has more than a dozen member countries, including, for example, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Tonga, and Vanuatu. “The people of the Pacific are people of the ocean. The ocean is very much central to our lives, to our culture, to our livelihoods. Anything that prejudices the health of the ocean is a matter of serious concern.”

When a magnitude 9.1 earthquake and tsunami hit off the coast of Japan in 2011, it caused a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Since then, water is being used to cool the damaged reactors and prevent further catastrophe. Now, more than 1.3 million metric tons of radionuclide-contaminated water has been collected on site, and it continues to accumulate, as rain and groundwater seep in. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the plant, says that the storage tanks take up too much space and hinder decommissioning the plant. Japan initially said that it would begin releasing the water into the ocean in the spring of 2023. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told the media in January that the release target date is now around spring or summer, which appears to be a postponement, according to the Associated Press, due to construction delays on a pipeline and the apparent need to gain greater public support.

The plan has faced widespread opposition. Japanese fishermen, international environmentalists, and other governments in the region, including China, South Korea, and Taiwan, have all expressed concern. Some of the strongest pushback has come from Pacific Island countries, including from lawmakers, former leaders, regional fisheries management groups, and other organizations. Among those voices is the PIF, which is advocating for more time to deal with questions and concerns. Earlier this year, the PIF appointed a panel of independent global nuclear experts to help inform its members in their consultations with Japan and TEPCO. The experts have stressed that more data are needed to determine the safety of the water for disposal.

South Korean environmental activists protest in Seoul against Japan’s plan to discharge Fukushima radioactive water into the sea, as they mark World Oceans Day on June 8, 2022.

“We think that there is not enough scientific evidence to prove that the release is safe, environmentally, healthwise, and also for our economy in the Pacific,” says Puna, who is also the former Prime Minister of the Cook Islands. Until more information is shared and evaluated, he asks that Japan “please defer the discharge of the water.”

Doubts and divisions over the data

TEPCO says the water will be purified so that the concentration of radioactive substances—with the exception of a hydrogen isotope called tritium, which it says has “little impact on the human body”—falls below regulatory standards. The tritium will be diluted with a large volume of seawater. The government of Japan told TIME in an emailed statement that the measures it is taking are fully in line with international law and the safety standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). An IAEA task force, set up to review the safety of Japan’s plan, says that it completed a second review in Japan in January, and that it will release a report on its findings in about three months, as well as a comprehensive report before the discharge.

But there appears to be a major disconnect between TEPCO and others, including the PIF panel of experts—who say that they’re concerned with the adequacy, accuracy, and reliability of the data backing up the decision to release the water. Robert H. Richmond, a research professor and the director of the Kewalo Marine Laboratory at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, who is one of the panel experts, tells TIME that “the critical, foundational data upon which a sound decision could be made was either absent or, when we started getting more data,” he says, “extremely concerning.” He also casts doubt on if the IAEA is in the best position to assess the risks. “They’re an agency that has a mandate to promote the use of nuclear energy,” says Richmond, “and our mandate is to look after the people, the ocean, and the people who depend on the ocean. And our unanimous conclusion … is that this is a bad idea that is not defended properly at this point, and that there are alternatives that Japan should really be looking at.”

“One of the biggest surprises to me was the fact that the data was so sparse,” says Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress, scientist-in-residence and adjunct professor at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, who is also on the PIF panel of experts. “There were prolonged gaps in data collection, which suggests that the matter may not have been given the level of attention and importance it deserved.” He adds that only a fraction of the tanks had been sampled, and only a handful of some 60 isotopes were typically measured in the samples—fewer than he would expect for this kind of assessment. (TEPCO says that the analysis done on a sample of tanks so far is just to assess the water’s condition in storage but that, after the purification process, further measurements will be taken on all the treated water before discharge to ensure that only that which meets sufficient standards of safety is released into the ocean).

Some still fear the safety of the treated water, and the far-reaching implications if it’s dumped into the ocean. Puna points out, for example, that the waters of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean produce much of the world’s tuna. If the tuna were to be impacted, it would cause major problems for Pacific nations, for which fisheries are a significant source of income, as well as for consumers globally.

In December, the U.S.-based National Association of Marine Laboratories also announced its opposition to TEPCO’s plans, publishing a position paper that says “there is a lack of adequate and accurate scientific data supporting Japan’s assertion of safety” while “there is an abundance of data demonstrating serious concerns about releasing radioactively contaminated water.”

Japan’s government told TIME in an emailed statement that it has provided detailed explanations, answered questions in a sincere manner, and that it stands ready to receive further questions. Puna says that the PIF panel of experts has been invited to Japan this year, but unless more data are offered, such a meeting would be “meaningless.” Richmond, similarly, says that requests for more data have not produced sufficient responses and that the panel of experts hasn’t been able to get the information they wanted via Zoom calls or emails, so he isn’t confident that a trip would produce enough information to make the panel of experts comfortable with the plan. “We asked ABC, and you answered with DEF,” he says.

When asked by TIME if it would indefinitely delay the discharge owing to the concerns of Pacific nations, TEPCO said in an emailed statement that it would “make every effort to foster understanding prior to the commencement of discharge.” The government of Japan also said that it “attaches great importance” to its relationship with the Pacific Island nations and that it “takes the PIF’s concerns sincerely,” but it stopped short of saying it wouldn’t go ahead with the discharge plan.

That approach may damage relations with the Pacific region. “We’ve been friends for a long time,” says Puna. “In the Pacific, we believe that if you are friends that you are always open to sharing information.”

A scarring past and a new path forward

Other nuclear plants across the globe have released treated wastewater containing tritium. Rafael Mariano Grossi, the IAEA’s director general, said in 2021 that Japan’s plan is “in line with practice globally, even though the large amount of water at the Fukushima plant makes it a unique and complex case.”

But Pacific Island nations have particular reason to be anxious. There is a noxious legacy of nuclear testing in the region, and other countries have historically treated the Pacific as a dumping ground for their waste. The U.S. conducted 67 nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands between 1946 and 1957—and disposed of atomic waste in Runit Dome, where it’s still stored. That testing led not only to forced relocations, but also to increased rates of cancers. Today there is concern that the dome is leaking and that rising sea levels might impact its structural integrity. France also conducted 193 nuclear tests from 1966 to 1996 at Moruroa and Fangataufa atolls in French Polynesia.

The BAKER explosion during Operation Crossroads, a series of two tests conducted by the U.S. to investigate the effect of nuclear weapons on naval warships, at Bikini Atoll, July 25, 1946.

“To have this on top of that creates a feeling of fear and apprehension in the hearts and minds of our leaders and our people in the Pacific,” says Puna.

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing energy crisis, many countries seem to be embracing nuclear power anew. Japan, for example, wound-down the use of nuclear energy in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. But in December it announced a major reversal of that policy and said that it plans to use more nuclear energy by restarting as many reactors as possible and prolonging the operating life of older reactors. (By late 2022, 10 of 50 nuclear reactors that were shut after the disaster had been restarted, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.)

Rather than let dumping wastewater into the ocean become the norm, at this juncture for nuclear energy, some say it’s an opportunity to explore different ways of doing things. The panel of PIF experts has proposed several alternative solutions, including treating the water and storing it in more secure tanks to allow the tritium time to decay, or using the treated water to make concrete for use in projects that won’t have high contact with humans.

“This is not the first nuclear disaster and by no means is it going to be the last,” says Richmond. “This is an opportunity for Japan,” he says, “to do the right thing and to invest time, effort, and money into determining and coming up with new ways of handling radioactive waste and setting a new trajectory.”

February 13, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Regulatory Commissioners object to proposed new rules for nuclear power plant regulation

Akira Ishiwata, a member of the Nuclear Regulation Authority of Japan (NRAJ), expresses his opposition to the draft of new safety regulation rules for nuclear power plants.

February 9, 2023
At the February 8 meeting of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), committee members voiced their opposition to the draft framework for new safety regulation rules, which would require safety inspections at intervals of no more than 10 years starting from 30 years of operation. The committee members decided not to make a formal decision on that day, and will discuss the issue again next week or later.

 Since the end of last year, the Regulatory Commission has been conducting “public comments” to gather opinions from the public on the draft framework. At the meeting, it was reported that 2016 comments had been received, many of which were opposed to the 40-year operation period stipulated in the Nuclear Reactor Regulation Law, but the committee decided that no revisions to the draft were necessary and decided to proceed with the decision as originally proposed.

Regulatory Commission is in the forefront of extending the operation of nuclear power plants.

 In response, Akira Ishiwata, a member of the committee in charge of the earthquake and tsunami review, stated, “I am opposed to this proposal,” citing two main reasons.

 The first is that the stipulation of an operating period will be removed from the Reactor Regulation Law, which is under the jurisdiction of the Regulatory Commission.

 Mr. Ishiwata said, “The mission of the Nuclear Regulation Commission is to protect people and the environment based on scientific and technical findings. This change is not about changing the law based on some new findings. Dropping the operation period from the law (Reactor Regulation Law) is not an alteration to the safety side,” he said.

February 13, 2023 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Amid fears of contamination, Japan will soon dump treated water from Fukushima Nuclear Plant into the Pacific

31 January 2023

Pacific island nations, neighboring countries in Asia, scientists, and others criticized an international organization’s endorsement of plans to dump tens of thousands of tons of contaminated wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the ocean. The plan to schedule the discharge of approximately 1.3 million tons of water on an ongoing basis for the next three decades has alarmed the Pacific community because of possible adverse impacts on nearby marine ecosystems and their way of life.

Following a January 2023 visit to the Fukushima nuclear facility to receive updates on plans to dispose of the contaminated water, Gustavo Caruso, a Director within the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Department of Nuclear Safety and Security and Chair of the Task Force, voiced support for the plans. As an international association, the IAEA says it promotes the “safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear energy,” which includes the disposal of nuclear waste.

“[Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority] prepared thorough evidence of how they are aligning the regulatory plans related to […] treated water discharge with the IAEA safety standards,” said Caruso in a statement following the visit. According to the IAEA statement, “Before any water discharge begins – scheduled for this year – the IAEA will issue a comprehensive report containing the collected findings and conclusions of the Task Force across all aspects of the review conducted as of that time.”

In March 2011, an earthquake and tsunami resulted in a nuclear disaster in Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. After power was disrupted and emergency generators failed, three nuclear reactors onsite lost cooling capabilities and experienced a core meltdown.

Water used to cool the reactors, along with groundwater below the complex, became contaminated with radioactive materials. This water has been collected, treated, and stored onsite since 2011 in dozens of massive storage tanks that now crowd the nuclear complex.

Since 2021, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has been preparing the infrastructure for the “safe” release of Fukushima’s treated water through a process called the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS). In August 2022, TEPCO announced the installation of facilities that will allow for water discharge after consulting with Japanese authorities and local residents. It vowed to cooperate with various stakeholders in explaining the systematic release of water and its scientific basis:

We will continue to do our utmost to increase the understanding of people of Fukushima and society at large regarding the handling of ALPS treated water as part of the decommissioning work, by focusing on our efforts to disseminate information based on scientific evidence to parties within and outside Japan in an easy-to-understand manner and taking every opportunity to listen to the concerns and opinions of the public and explain our approach and response.

But Henry Puna, the secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), reiterated the regional opposition to Japan’s plan of releasing Fukushima’s treated water into the Pacific Ocean:

Based on our experience with nuclear contamination, continuing with ocean discharge plans at this time is simply inconceivable and we do not have the luxury of time to sit around for four decades in order to ‘figure it out.’

The decision for any ocean release is not and should not only be a domestic matter for Japan, but a global and transnational issue that should give rise to the need to examine the issue in the context of obligations under international law.

I am asking today, what our Pacific people did not have the opportunity to ask decades ago when our region and our ocean was identified as a nuclear test field.

PIF enumerated alternative options such as “safe storage and radioactive decay, bioremediation, and use of treated water to make concrete for special applications.”

During a conference held at New Zealand’s University of Otago in November 2022, participants described Japan’s plan as a manifestation of “nuclear colonial violence”:

TEPCO and the Japanese government’s plan to discharge radioactive wastewater into the Pacific shows direct disregard for the sovereignty and self-determination of Pacific peoples and the ocean their livelihoods depend upon.

We condemn attempts by the Japanese government and TEPCO to trivialise the nature and extent of the damages the radioactive wastewater discharge will cause to the people, ocean life, and places of the Pacific.

Speaking on behalf of Pacific civil society groups, Noelene Nabulivou of DIVA for Equality urged Japanese authorities to consider the perspectives of Pacific communities:

Japan’s internal process of approval for this construction needs to consult the Pacific, as it threatens the livelihood of Pacific peoples and the environment we depend heavily on. This is all happening in the context of massive loss and damage from the climate emergency, that is also not of our making.

The Chinese foreign ministry called Japan’s decision to go ahead with its controversial plan “irresponsible” and “self-serving. Meanwhile, the US National Association of Marine Laboratories cited the “lack of adequate and accurate scientific data supporting Japan’s assertion of safety.” Robert Richmond, a marine biologist at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, noted that “there is a strong consensus internationally that continued use of the ocean for dumping waste is simply not sustainable.”

Local opposition to the contaminated water discharge has been supported by Sato Kazuyoshi, a municipal councilor in Iwaki, a city neighboring the Fukushima nuclear complex. In a Facebook post, Sato said:

On January 13, near the entrance to Onahama Port, Iwaki City, we held a rally, ‘Iwaki Citizens Against the Release of Contaminated Water from Nuclear Power Plants into the Ocean.’ The beginning of this year’s standing. On earlier that day, there were reports that government ministers had confirmed the release (of contaminated water) ‘from spring to summer.’

Since June 2021, we have been holding a this rally on the 13th of every month: ‘Don’t pollute the sea any more!’

At noon, I stood with an illustration banner by Eisaku Ando, a sculptor who moved from Iwaki to Nara, and a placard saying ‘Don’t pour contaminated water into the sea!’ Nearly 20 participants from their respective standpoints said that they would not allow contaminated water to be released into the ocean! and impassioned speeches. A Japanese citizen who had returned from Canada for a visit also joined us, showing the international spread of opposition to the ocean release of contaminated water.

TEPCO is working closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has been releasing regular reports about the safety procedures being done at Fukushima. IAEA assured the public that it will release its comprehensive report before the actual discharge of treated water in about three months’ time.


February 4, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s decision to dump Fukushima water is based on biased data, argue scientists

A panel of global experts is urging Japan to halt its plans to dump the radioactive water

Numerous tanks currently store contaminated water at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.


A panel of scientists is arguing that the Japanese government’s decision to discharge radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean is based on incomplete and biased data.

The experts contend that Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the nuclear plant, concluded that the contaminated water was safe without properly measuring a significant number of radioactive materials (nuclides). The discharge of the wastewater from the Fukushima plant could begin as soon as this coming spring.

This latest analysis comes from a panel of scientists organized by the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), an intergovernmental organization made up of 18 Pacific Island countries including New Zealand and Fiji.

These scientists are recommending the Japanese government cease its plans to release the wastewater from the nuclear plant into the ocean and instead seek alternative options.

At a debate held at Korea’s National Assembly on Thursday, the scientists stressed that TEPCO’s contaminated water measurement data cannot function as the basis for deciding on the release of the wastewater into the ocean.

The panel of scientists, including five experts in nuclear energy and oceanography, was formed last March by the PIF. As parties with a direct stake in the consequences of the potential discharge of Fukushima wastewater, the PIF requested relevant information and data from Japan regarding this issue.

On Jan. 13, the Japanese government decided to dilute 1.3 million tons of contaminated water stored in over 1,000 tanks at the Fukushima plant with water and then to release it into the ocean either this coming spring or summer.

“The data provided by Japan to the forum is incomplete, inadequate, inconsistent, and biased, making it unsuitable for making any decisions,” said Dr. Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress, an adjunct professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and head of the panel of scientists.

“Since wastewater is not being released into nature in a planned or controlled way from a normally functioning power plant, in this case the word ‘dumping’ should be used instead of the ‘release’ of wastewater,” Dalnoki-Veress said.

The reason the panel believes the data provided by TEPCO is biased is that TEPCO is focusing only on nine materials, including strontium and cesium, among a total of 64 radioactive materials. The remaining 55, which were not measured, are presumed to be always present with the same effect.

The panel of scientists also pointed out that it is not enough to gauge the actual composition and concentration levels of the wastewater as the measurement of materials was performed on a 30-liter sample just before the water in the storage tanks to be treated with the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) were full.

In a report published by the panel on this issue, the scientists raised fundamental questions about the reliability of the Japanese data, saying there are “many abnormal and suspicious measurement values in TEPCO’s measurement data.

” For example, the panel pointed out that measurements for tellurium (Te)-127, a radionuclide with a half-life of only 9.4 hours, ranged from hundreds of thousands to nearly tens of billions of becquerels (Bq) per liter. This is because, if it had been released during the Fukushima accident, it would have broken down a long time ago in terms of its half-life.

“Unless the core is intermittently in a dangerous state of meltdown, these measurements indicate problems with TEPCO’s measurement and data quality control procedures,” the report stated.

The panel also pointed out the major problem that issues such as how tritium present in the wastewater is changed into organic-bonded tritium in the sea, which will affect the marine ecosystem, or the effects of strontium-90’s bioconcentration, are not being properly examined.

“The assumption that dilution is the solution to pollution is scientifically outdated and ecologically inadequate,” the panel said. “The [wastewater] dumping measures are an issue that transcends generations and borders and require much greater contemplation,” they added.

As an alternative to releasing the polluted water into the ocean, the scientists recommended the wastewater be stored for a long time to reduce its radioactivity levels until the polluting elements can be removed using biological methods such as employing animals, plants and fungi. After this, the treated water could be used in the process of making concrete in places with as little human contact as possible.

February 4, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t dump on us

  Posted on by beyondnuclearinternationa

Pacific Islanders, marine scientists, urge Japan not to dump Fukushima radioactive water into ocean

By Linda Pentz Gunter

The nuclear power industry has a long history of disproportionately impacting people of color, Indigenous communities and those living in the Global South. As Japan prepares to dump more than 1 million tonnes of radioactive water from its stricken Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant site into the Pacific Ocean some time this year, history is about to repeat itself.

To remind us of that — and to warn against this reckless and entirely unnecessary action (Japan could and should expand the cask storage pad on site and keep storing the radioactive water there) — the leader of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) has spoken out.

In a recent column in the UK daily newspaper, The Guardian, Henry Puna wrote that “continuing with ocean discharge plans at this time is simply inconceivable”, given how directly it once again discriminates against — and will likely seriously harm the health of — the peoples of the Pacific. Puna took care to remind readers “that the majority of our Pacific peoples are coastal peoples, and that the ocean continues to be an integral part of their subsistence living.”

Japan is once again declaring its intention to dump the radioactive water stored in tanks at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear site into the Pacific Ocean, against widespread opposition.

Going forward with the dump without further study and serious consideration of viable alternatives, would, Puna said, mean that “the region will once again be headed towards a major nuclear contamination disaster at the hands of others.” Victims of years of atomic testing, Pacific Islanders are rightly not ready to be dumped on yet again.

Tepco and the lapdog Japanese government announced last May that they would release around 1.3 million tonnes of radioactive waste water from the Fukushima site next spring. Recently, authorities suggested the dump could be delayed until the summer but seem undeterred by the loud chorus of opposition from multiple quarters.

The plant produces 100 cubic metres of contaminated water daily, a combination of groundwater, seawater and water used to keep the reactors cool. The water is theoretically filtered to remove most harmful isotopes, other than tritium, which is radioactive hydrogen and cannot be separated from water. It is then stored in casks on site where authorities claim they are running out of space. However, independent watchdogs are not convinced that the filter system has successfully removed other dangerous radioactive isotopes from the waste water.

Most recently, the 100-member American group, the National Association of Marine Laboratories (NAML), expressed its fervent opposition in a strongly worded position paper released last month. Their opposition, they wrote, “is based on the fact that there is a lack of adequate and accurate scientific data supporting Japan’s assertion of safety. Furthermore, there is an abundance of data demonstrating serious concerns about releasing radioactively contaminated water.”

The report went on: “The proposed release of this contaminated water is a transboundary and transgenerational issue of concern for the health of marine ecosystems and those whose lives and livelihoods depend on them. We are concerned about the absence of critical data on the radionuclide content of each tank, the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS), which is used to remove radionuclides, and the assumption that upon the release of the contaminated wastewater, ‘dilution is the solution to pollution.’”

The scientists accused Japan of ignoring the inevitable processes of bioaccumulation and bioconcentration, which contradict the dilution contention. The Association also called out what it saw as shoddy or incorrect science conducted by Tepco and the Japanese government, including “flaws in sampling protocols, statistical design, sample analyses, and assumptions, which in turn lead to flaws in the conclusion of safety and prevent a more thorough evaluation of better alternative approaches to disposal.”

Japan has consistently rejected on-going onsite storage — presumably due to the expense, given the land space is there and more casks could be provided. In the view of some, the eagerness to dump the water— largely contaminated with tritium (a form of radioactive hydrogen that cannot be separated from water) and likely other undeclared radionuclides — is a public relations exercise to make the problem “go away” and restore normal optics to the site. The site cannot also be fully decommissioned so long as the tanks are there.

Castle Bravo was just the largest of the 67 atomic tests conducted by the US in the Marshall Islands, contaminating the landscape and sickening its population for generations .

Japan has also benefited from the (inevitable) support of the (nuclear power-promoting) International Atomic Energy Agency, an organization that never met a nuclear danger it couldn’t downplay. The agency has described the proposed discharges as “far below the Japanese regulatory limits,” in a statement last April.

After sending in a task force and several earlier reports, the IAEA released a new report in December in which it said “the IAEA will conduct its own independent checks of the radiological contents of the water stored in the tanks and how it will analyse environmental samples (for example seawater and fish) from the surrounding environment.” However, the IAEA has not expressed opposition to the dumping of the radioactive water even now and instead indicates that its safety reviews will continue “before, during, and after the discharges of ALPS treated water.”

Japan has faced down opposition from fishermen and environmentalists, particularly from those in the Marshall Islands who have suffered decades of horrific health issues, especially birth defects, after enduring 67 US atomic tests there. A Pacific region collective advocacy group, Youngsolwara Pacific, expressed dismay that the Japanese, of all people, would not empathize with them and condemn the Fukushima water dump.

“How can the Japanese government, who has experienced the same brutal experiences of nuclear weapons in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki, wish to further pollute our Pacific with nuclear waste?” they asked in a statement quoted in a New York Times article in December. “To us, this irresponsible act of trans-boundary harm is just the same as waging nuclear war on us as Pacific peoples and our islands.”

Pacific Islanders are naturally suspicious, having been lied to before. It took two days before the by then radiologically contaminated people of Rongelap were evacuated subsequent to the massive Castle Bravo atomic test, America’s biggest bomb that devastated Bikini Atoll. Marshall Islanders were treated as guinea pigs in the aftermath of the tests there, as the US government examined the impact on people living in a radiologically contaminated environment — even as the true dangers were hidden from them. Consequently, claims by the Japanese government that their Advanced Liquid Processing System had removed the worst of the radionuclides from the waste water to be dumped, have been met with skepticism at best.

Now, their concerns are supported by marine scientists.

“The effectiveness of the Advanced Liquid Processing System in almost completely removing the over 60 different radionuclides present in the affected wastewater—some of which have an affinity to target specific tissues, glands, organs, and metabolic pathways in living organisms, including people—remains a serious concern due to the absence of critical data,” said the statement from NAML.

Those are precisely some of the agonizing health effects already endured by the bombed peoples of the Marshall Islands and elsewhere in the Pacific. They are not ready to be dosed again. 

“You feel this deep sorrow,” Bedi Racule, President of the Marshall Islands Students Association, told the New York Times. “Why were we not good enough to be treated like human beings?”

In an August 2022 statement on the Youngsolwara Pacific homepage, Racule added: “The impact of the nuclear testing legacy in the Pacific continues to affect our islands and people, and we cannot afford another scenario such as Fukushima’s dumping plan. Scientists are already warning that the impact of long-term, low-dose exposure to not only tritium but also other isotopes on the environment and humans is still unknown and that release of the wastewater is premature.”

Now NAML, the PIF and a vociferous alliance of Japanese fishermen and anti-nuclear activists, are raising their voices a little louder in what might be a last ditch attempt to prevent the Pacific Ocean from becoming, once again, a nuclear dustbin.

Linda Pentz Gunter is the international specialist at Beyond Nuclear and writes for and curates Beyond Nuclear International.


February 3, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , | Leave a comment