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South Korean Gov’t Concerned over Fukushima Daiichi’s Radioactive Water Release

Gov’t. Concerned over Japan Possibly Releasing Contaminated Water from Daiichi Plant

September 23, 2020

South Korea has expressed concerns over Japan strongly considering the release of contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster site into the ocean.

The Ministry of Science and ICT said First Vice Minister Jeong Byung-seon revealed the plans in a virtual keynote speech during the 64th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA) on Wednesday.  

Jeong said the international community, including South Korea, is growing concerned and nervous about the environment and its safety as Japan mulls such a possibility.   

The vice minister stressed the need to thoroughly analyze the mid-  and long-term damage the release could have on the environment and the appropriate way to go about it, given that it could affect global marine environments.  

In particular, Jeong said that in line with international laws, Japan is obligated to communicate with the international community in a transparent manner ahead of deciding on ways to dispose of the contaminated water and proposed that the IAEA play a key role in that process.

S.Korea concerned about Fukushima waste water

September 23, 2020

South Korea has again expressed its concerns about Japan’s plan to release into the sea radioactive wastewater building up at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The first vice minister of South Korea’s science ministry Jeong Byungseon was speaking at a general meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna on Tuesday.

He said “releasing contaminated water into the ocean is not an issue of Japan itself, but one that could have a wider impact on the global marine environment, as well as the neighboring countries.”

He said Japan has “an overarching obligation to make transparent, concrete communication within the global society,” including South Korea, before making any disposal decision.

He asked the IAEA to play a proactive role in the issue.

At last year’s IAEA general meeting, South Korea raised questions about the issue and criticized Japan.

On Monday, Japan’s Science and Technology Policy Minister Inoue Shinji told the meeting that Japan is studying ways to dispose of the water, taking into consideration advice from the IAEA. He stressed Japan will provide careful and transparent explanations to the global community.

In February, a Japanese government expert panel came up with a report saying that diluting the wastewater below environmental and other standards, and discharging it into the sea, as well as vaporizing and releasing it into the air are realistic options.

The government plans to make a decision after hearing opinions from local residents and groups.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200923_03/

September 24, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

S. Korea renews concerns over possible release of tainted Fukushima water

The logo of the Ministry of Science and ICT at its main offices in the central city of Sejong, 130 kilometers south of Seoul, is shown in this undated photo provided by the ministry

September 22, 2020

SEOUL, Sept. 22 (Yonhap) — South Korea on Tuesday reiterated its concerns over Japan’s potential move to release radioactive water from its disabled Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea.

Japan has been mulling over options to discharge the water from the nuclear plant, which was devastated by a tsunami triggered by an earthquake in March 2011.

An estimated 1.1 million tons of tainted water is in temporary storage at the Fukushima plant.

South Korea’s Vice Minister of Science and ICT Jeong Byung-seon renewed concerns over Japan’s potential move in a recorded message at an annual conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA), according to the science ministry.

The general conference of the U.N. nuclear watchdog was held partially online this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Jeong said releasing the tainted water would impact the global marine environment and that its method and long-term environmental risks need careful consideration through cooperation with global agencies, such as the IAEA.

The vice minister also called for an active role of the IAEA to facilitate transparency in the water’s disposal process, adding that Japan’s disposal plans should follow international law, such as the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The science ministry said the vice minister will convey South Korea’s concerns to IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi in a separate meeting Wednesday.

The fallout of the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant has been a source of contention between the two neighboring countries, with South Korea imposing a ban on all seafood imports from eight Japanese prefectures near Fukushima in 2013.

https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20200922007000320?section=national/diplomacy

September 24, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan fiddles with the idea of unleashing tainted water at Fukushima

September. 18, 2020

Concerns are resurfacing that the contaminated water from the Fukushima power plants could be discharged into the sea with Suga Yoshihide sworn in as new prime minister of Japan. Mr. Suga previously said whoever takes power next should tackle the issue of the radioactive contamination at Fukushima plant.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has embarked on the process of cutting the amount of the contaminated water currently stored at the premises of Fukushima power plants, down to the discharge level of radioactive substances set by the Japanese regulatory authorities. Some experts say that the state-run power corporation is preparing to let loose the water tainted with radioactive materials from Fukushima meltdown. Pundits argue that transparency of information is necessary to verify whether the radioactive nuclide density can be curtailed below the threshold as interned.

As of last year, the reactors at the Fukushima power plant site are belching an average 180 tons of contaminated water each day. This includes the massive amount of underground water that has been seeping into the nuclear reactors since 2013 in addition to the artificial influx of water. In February, the Japanese government reached the conclusion to unleash the water into the seas, with the storage capacity within the premises expected to reach the limit in August 2022.

TEPCO’s clean-up operation aims to reduce the discrepancy of radioactive density and cut the amount of discharging below standard for each type of nuclides. After upgrading and replacing the filters at multi-nuclide removal facility (ALPS), the process involves purifying the reservoir of the tainted water, checking the radioactive density, and processing the water again in the event density should exceed the threshold.

“The IAEA’s review has not found any issue with the performance of ALPS,” said Kim Yun-woo, a manager at the department of disaster prevention environment of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission. “From a technical point of view, the purification process will likely bring down the density to meet the discharge standard, but in practice, we need to wait and see how much the water can get purified.”

The issue at hand is tritium. When the density is higher than a certain level, partial purification can be achieved through removal equipment. But the density of tritium in Fukushima water stands at 580,000 Bq per liter, impossibly low to remove with any equipment. Yet it is much higher than the discharge threshold at 60,000 Bq. There is known to be no effective technology to remove tritium under such circumstances.

https://www.donga.com/en/article/all/20200918/2185015/1/Japan-fiddles-with-the-idea-of-unleashing-tainted-water-at-Fukushima

September 24, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan should leave radioactive water in current storage tanks

Hajime Matsukubo, general-secretary of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, says an ocean dump doesn’t make sense

7715976536687178Hajime Matsukubo, general secretary of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center (CNIC)

Aug.17,2020

What’s the most practical and safest way to handle the radioactive water being stored at Fukushima? According to Hajime Matsukubo, general-secretary of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center (CNIC), the contaminated water should be left in the aboveground tanks where it’s currently being stored. In a recent email interview with the Hankyoreh, Matsukubo said it doesn’t make sense to release the water into the ocean just because the tanks are running low on space.

The CNIC is a Japanese NGO that was set up in 1975 under nuclear physicist Jinzaburo Takagi, a leading figure in the campaign against nuclear power in Japan. Matsukubo is an active researcher, lecturer, and publisher of materials related to the anti-nuclear movement. The interview is presented below.

Hankyoreh (Hani): When do you think the final decision will be made about dumping the contaminated water at Fukushima into the ocean?

Hajime Matsukubo: TEPCO [Tokyo Electric Power Company] says it will dilute the contaminated water before dumping it into the ocean, which means that a dilution facility would have to be built. Given the time required to get a building permit, I think the final decision will be made this summer or fall.

Japan wants an ocean dump because it’s the cheapest option

Hani: Why do you think the Japanese government is pushing so hard to dump the water into the ocean?

Matsukubo: Not only Japan but all countries that operate nuclear reactors end up with tritium as a byproduct, which they then release into the ocean or the atmosphere. I see this decision as an extension of that. Another factor is that releasing the water into the ocean is the cheapest option.

Hani: There seems to be considerable opposition to the plan in Japan as well.

Matsukubo: Many citizens are opposed to it. Pushback has been particularly strong from fishermen, who are likely to be harmed by the rumors [about the danger of the radioactive matter being released, which could cause people not to visit or eat food from Fukushima]. Lawmakers at city councils in Fukushima Prefecture have adopted a series of resolutions voicing concerns about releasing the contaminated water.

Hani: Do you think that negative public opinion in Japan is capable of changing government policy?

Matsukubo: Since the fishermen are direct stakeholders, I think their opposition will have a big impact. TEPCO has promised not to release the water without the consent of local communities in Fukushima. I think the key is opposing voices in Japan and increasing pressure from overseas.

Hani: Do South Korea or environmental groups in other countries have any way to sanction Japan for releasing contaminated water into the ocean?

Matsukubo: They could consider filing a lawsuit based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. But a large amount of tritium is already being released from Korea’s nuclear plants, especially the Wolseong plant. It would be rather difficult to prove that contaminated water released from Fukushima Daiichi [No. 1] is having an impact.

There’s plenty of land that could be used for additional storage

Hani: What’s the most practical and safest way to deal with the contaminated water?

Matsukubo: The contaminated water at Fukushima should be left in the aboveground tanks where it’s currently being stored. [The government] says there’s no more room at Fukushima Daiichi, but there is. There’s a huge amount of land that could be used to store the radioactive wastewater. While the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry says that land can’t be appropriated for other uses, the government [could and] should negotiate with the landowners. It’s absurd to dump radioactive water into the ocean because there’s not enough storage space in the tanks. Japanese NGOs are suggesting that the government continue storing the water in the aboveground tanks and seal them off with concrete. They’re warning the government that releasing the water into the ocean would create international problems.

S. Korea, Japan both need to reassess their reprocessing plans

Hani: Do you have a message for South Korea’s civic society?

Matsukubo: The Japanese government is pursuing a policy of creating a nuclear fuel cycle that would recycle plutonium and uranium from the spent nuclear fuel produced by reactors. This policy requires reprocessing plants that are currently under construction at Rokkasho, in Aomori Prefecture, which are supposed to begin operations in 2021. These plants will release a large amount of radioactive matter into the ocean and the atmosphere. In terms of tritium alone, the amount released will be 10 times worse than the contaminated water at Fukushima Daiichi. That’s a very serious problem, just as releasing the contaminated water would be.

In South Korea, the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute is taking the lead in R&D projects related to reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. The problems with reprocessing plants don’t end here. Plutonium can be used as a raw material for making nuclear weapons. I think that South Korea and Japanese citizens need to join forces to shut down both countries’ reprocessing plans.

By Kim So-youn, staff reporter

http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_international/958103.html

September 1, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan pushes forward with plans to dump radioactive water into ocean, despite public opposition

Tokyo may dump contaminated water as early as September

8615976536687837Storage tanks for water contaminated with radioactive matter from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Aug.17,2020

During the past three months, while the international community was focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, the Japanese government has held five public hearings as it moves forward with its decision to dump radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear disaster into the ocean. After analyzing the transcripts and videos from the hearings, the Hankyoreh has concluded that the Japanese government will probably decide to dump the water as early as September or October, despite overwhelming public opposition to the plan, even in Japan. Since a study has found that the contaminated water could reach the eastern coast of South Korea within a year of being dumped, international groups focusing on the environment and experts in international law are calling for the South Korean government to take preemptive action in the area of international law.

Following an explosion during the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was closed and is being decommissioned, a process that has taken nine years so far. But debate continues about how to deal with the growing volume of water contaminated with radioactivity, including the water used to cool the nuclear fuel and rainwater and groundwater that have seeped into the buildings. The contaminated water is currently being stored in tanks, but by the summer of 2022, the Japanese government says, the tanks will run out of space, necessitating the water’s release into the ocean.

The Japanese government, under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, held video hearings about how to deal with the contaminated water on Apr. 6, Apr. 13, May 11, June 30, and July 17. These hearings were attended not only by representatives from the fishing, agriculture, and hospitality businesses and community leaders from Fukushima Prefecture but also the national tourist council and groups representing businesses and consumers. The government was represented by officials from 10 or so ministries, including the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, the Ministry of the Environment, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Radioactive matter detected in water even after decontamination

While reviewing the hearings, the Hankyoreh learned that radioactive matter has been detected even following decontamination efforts, that releasing the water would likely cement Fukushima’s stigma as an area tainted with radioactivity and have a serious impact on the fishing industry, and that there was widespread opposition to the idea among hearing attendees, who argued that the final decision shouldn’t be made until public opinion has been canvassed.

An August 2019 report by international environmental group Greenpeace about the contaminated water at Fukushima found that the water, once released, would flow through the East China Sea and be brought via the Kuroshio Current and the Tsushima Current to South Korea’s eastern shore within a year. Disregarding the concerns of the international community, the Japanese government released a draft of a plan this past March to dump the contaminated water at Fukushima into the ocean over the course of 30 years. Given the plan’s schedule, which involves the construction of a facility to dilute the contaminated water, its decision will likely be made by this October. Abe told the press in an interview in March that he wants to finalize a plan as quickly as possible.

The Japanese government intends to make its final decision after canvassing the opinions of Fukushima residents, related organizations, and ordinary citizens. But even in the Japanese public, there’s fierce opposition to dumping the contaminated water. The Hankyoreh’s analysis of the transcripts and videos from the five hearings show that most of the 37 participants were concerned about the plan to release the water.

It’s human nature to avoid radioactive materials. It’s a serious problem that there’s still radioactivity even in the decontaminated water, which contradicts what TEPCO [Tokyo Electric Power Company] initially said,” said Hidenori Koito, the director of a trade association for the hospitality industry in Fukushima Prefecture.

80% of water contains radioactive matter beyond permissible levels

TEPCO claimed to have filtered out 62 kinds of radioactive material through the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) and all that’s left is tritium, which is technically difficult to remove from the contaminated water in the tanks. But a 2018 study found that 80% of the water processed using ALPS still contained more than the permitted level of radioactive matter that is deadly to the human body, including cesium, strontium, and iodine. While TEPCO has emphasized that it would decontaminate the water once more to ensure its safety prior to release, distrust has already surged.

Another criticism is that dumping the water would spoil the nine-year campaign by Fukushima residents to repair the area’s reputation. “If the contaminated water is released into the ocean, people will inevitably think there’s another radiation leak at Fukushima, given the nuclear accident that occurred there,” said Kimio Akimoto, president of a coalition of forestry associations in the prefecture.

Vehement opposition from fishermen

An even sterner stance was taken by fishermen, who depend upon the ocean for their livelihood. “It’s unacceptable for radioactive matter to be deliberately pumped into the ocean,” said Tetsu Nozaki, president of a coalition of fishery cooperatives in Fukushima Prefecture. The national coalition of fishery cooperatives voted on July 23 to “oppose” the planned release of contaminated water.

There are also concerns that the government is rushing the plan. “The Japanese public doesn’t know the details about the contaminated water yet. The final decision shouldn’t be made until people understand what it means to dump contaminated water into the ocean,” said Yuki Urago, secretary-general of a national coalition of consumers’ associations.

Right now, the Japanese public is focused on COVID-19. It’s doubtful whether the issue of contaminated water at Fukushima can provoke a national debate in this situation,” said Yuko Endo, mayor of Kawauchi, a village in Fukushima Prefecture.

Japan took an unusually long opinion canvassing period

Before deciding on important policies, the Japanese government has a practice of canvassing opinions, a process known as the “public comment” period. The relevant ministry here, the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, began collecting comments on Apr. 6 and took the unusual step of extending that period three times, only wrapping it up at the end of last month. One reason the government may have extended the comment period is because of the overwhelming opposition to releasing the contaminated water into the ocean.

Last month, the UN Human Rights Council released a statement expressing “deep concerns” about “a report indicating that the Japanese government is accelerating its timeframe for releasing water contaminated with radioactivity at Fukushima.” South Korea, given its proximity to Japan and the ocean, has set up a government-wide task force under the Office of the Prime Minister to keep tabs on the Japanese government’s actions.

We’re asking Japan to share adequate information while it’s processing the contaminated water at the Fukushima nuclear plant. We’re monitoring the situation from various angles to see what impact this will have on us,” explained an official from South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

By Kim So-youn, staff reporter

http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_international/958099.html

 

September 1, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s Contaminated Wastewater Could Be Too Risky to Dump in the Ocean

ssfsq7teavc1ccedikwz-732x410A person walks past storage tanks for contaminated water at the company’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

 

August 7, 2020

Almost a decade ago, the Tohoku-oki earthquake and tsunami triggered an explosion at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, causing the most severe nuclear accident since Chernobyl and releasing an unprecedented amount of radioactive contamination in the ocean. In the years since, there’s been a drawn out cleanup process, and water radiation levels around the plant have fallen to safe levels everywhere except for in the areas closest to the now-closed plant. But as a study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution published in Science on Thursday shows, there’s another growing hazard: contaminated wastewater.

Radioactive cooling water is leaking out of the the melted-down nuclear reactors and mixing with the groundwater there. In order to prevent the groundwater from leaking into the ocean, the water is pumped into more than 1,000 tanks. Using sophisticated cleaning processes, workers have been able to remove some of this contamination and divert groundwater flows, reducing the amount of water that must be collected each day. But those tanks are filling up, and some Japanese officials have suggested that the water should dumped into the ocean to free up space.

The water in the tanks goes through an advanced treatment system to remove many radioactive isotopes. The Japanese utility company TEPCO, which is handling the cleanup processes, claims that these processes remove all radioactive particles from the water except tritium, an isotope of hydrogen which is nearly impossible remove but is considered to be relatively harmless. It decays in about 12 years, which is faster than other isotopes, is not easily absorbed by marine life, and is not as damaging to living tissue as other forms of radiation.

But according to the new study, that’s not the only radioactive contaminant left in the tanks. By examining TEPCO’s own 2018 data, WHOI researcher Ken Buesseler found that other isotopes remain in the treated wastewater, including carbon-14, cobalt-60, and strontium-90. He found these particles all take much longer to decay than tritium, and that fish and marine organisms absorb them comparatively easily.

[This] means they could be potentially hazardous to humans and the environment for much longer and in more complex ways than tritium,” the study says.

Though TEPCO’s data shows there is far less of these contaminants in the wastewater tanks than tritium, Buesseler notes that their levels vary widely from tank to tank, and that “more than 70% of the tanks would need secondary treatment to reduce concentrations below that required by law for their release.”

The study says we don’t currently have a good idea of how those more dangerous isotopes would behave in the water. We can’t assume they will behave the same way tritium does in the ocean because they have such different properties. And since there are different levels of each isotope in each different tank, each tank will need its own assessment.

To assess the consequences of the tank releases, a full accounting after any secondary treatments of what isotopes are left in each tank is needed,” the study said.

Buesseler also calls for an analysis of what other contaminants could be in the tanks, such as plutonium. Even though it wasn’t reported in high amounts in the atmosphere in 2011, recent research shows it may have been dispersed when the explosion occurred. Buesseler fears it may also be present in the cooling waters being used at the plant. That points to the need to take a fuller account of the wastewater tanks before anything is done to dump them in the ocean.

The first step is to clean up those additional radioactive contaminants that remain in the tanks, and then make plans based on what remains,” he said in a statement. “Any option that involves ocean releases would need independent groups keeping track of all of the potential contaminants in seawater, the seafloor, and marine life.”

Many Japanese municipalities have been pushing the government to reconsider its ocean dumping plans and opt to find a long-term storage solution instead, which makes sense, considering exposure to radioactive isotopes can cause myriad health problems to people. It could also hurt marine life, which could have a devastating impact on fishing economies and on ecosystems.

The health of the ocean — and the livelihoods of countless people — rely on this being done right,” said Buesseler.

https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2020/08/fukushimas-contaminated-wastewater-could-be-too-risky-to-dump-in-the-ocean/

August 15, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s plans for radioactive discharges violates principles of environmental protection and defies international maritime law

Aug.4,2020

The threat of a million tonnes of highly contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi being discharged into the Pacific Ocean includes the potential environmental and human impacts, but also how a decision by the Japanese government relates to international law. What we conclude is that such a decision poses a direct threat to the marine environment, including that of the jurisdictional waters of the Korean peninsula. As such, Japan would be in breach of its obligations as defined under international environmental law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that Korea government has rights to oppose the discharging in the legal perspective.

The discharge of radioactivity into the marine environment from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant will inevitably increase exposure to marine species. The level of exposure depends on multiple variables. The concentrations are of direct relevance to those who may consume them, including marine species, ultimately, humans. The 1.2 million tons of highly contaminated water in nearly 1000 storage tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant currently has concentrations of radioactive tritium much higher than is permitted under Japanese regulation permissible for discharge into the ocean. Concerns are that the high relative biological effectiveness (RBE) of tritium’s beta radiation, its ability to bind with cell constituents to form organically-bound tritium (OBT) and its short-range beta particle, meaning it can damage DNA.

It is more important to remember that 800,000 tons of this water contains not only tritium but also contains other hazardous radioactive materials, including strontium-90, as a result of the failure of the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) technology operating during the last 9 years. There are 30,000 megaBecquerels of strontium-90 in the storage now which is absorbed by the body in a similar manner to calcium where it increases the risk of developing leukemia cancer. To give some perspective on this amount of strontium-90, it is what an average Pressurized Water Reactor would discharge in its liquid waste every year if it were to operate for 120,000 years, more than half the number of years humans have inhabited the earth. Even more threatening is that these discharges are only a small fraction of the radioactive inventory of what remains at the site. Most strontium-90 still remains in the molten cores at the site, an amount 17.3 million times more than would be released under the Japanese government’s plans for the contaminated water. And there are many other radionuclides present in the contaminated water with even longer half lives – iodine-129 for example is 13 million years.

For South Korea, the impacts of this radiation exposure is of great importance to the fishing communities, the wider population and the Government. The toxic cocktail of radionuclides from Fukushima Daiichi will rapidly disperse through the strong coastal currents along Japan’s Pacific coast, and would enter the East Sea via the East China Sea, including the waters of the Korean peninsula. We know this as a result of sea water sampling following the March 2011 nuclear disaster.

The South Korean government has rightly challenged the Japanese government over its plans for the Fukushima contaminated water, including at the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO). In November 2019 at the IMO they were joined in their opposition by the People’s Republic of China. While the Japanese government is looking to make a decision later this year the actual discharges would not take place for several more years. It is vitally important that the Korean government continue its efforts to protect the marine environment and the health and livelihoods of its citizens, including fishing communities, by challenging in every way possible the plans of the Japanese government.

 

15965317898548_9815965315211388Shaun Burnie

 

In addition to the requirements under the IMO, Japan is required to comply with international law that prohibits significant transboundary environmental harm, both to the territory of other States and to areas beyond national jurisdiction. Before any discharge into the Pacific Ocean, Japan is required to conduct an Environment Impact Assessment under Article 206 of UNCLOS. International radio-protection principles require that a decision to increase radioactivity in the environment must be justified, and if there is a viable alternative – in this case long term storage – it cannot be justified.

 

There is a clear alternative to discharging over 1.2 million tons of highly contaminated into the environment. There never was a justification for further deliberate radioactive pollution of the marine environment from Fukushima Daiichi; and, in the interests of protection of that environment as well as public safety, as well a compliance with its international legal obligations, the only acceptable way forward for the Japanese government is to terminate its discharge plans, commit to long term storage and processing.

 

9515965315210751Duncan E. J. Currie

 

By  Duncan E. J. Currie and Shaun Burnie

Duncan Currie is a practicing international and environmental lawyer. He has practiced international law and environmental law for nearly thirty years, and over that time has advised NGOs, corporations and governments on a wide range of environmental issues including the law of the sea, nuclear and waste issues.

Shaun Burnie is a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, with much of his time based in Japan. He has worked on nuclear issues in Asia, the former Soviet Union, Europe, North and South America and the Middle East for 35 years. He has worked against the operation of the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi reactors since 1997.

http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/english_editorials/956456.html

 

August 7, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan needs to halt its plan to dump contaminated water from Fukushima immediately

8215965299187326A TEPCO employee tells reporters about the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in June 2017.

Aug.4,2020

With the world’s attention focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, the Japanese government has been pushing forward with its preparations to dump contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the ocean. After first announcing an initial plan last March for discharging the water into the sea over a period of 30 years, the Shinzo Abe administration held five hearings between April and July, with a final decision on the dump reportedly likely to come within the month of October. The Abe administration has disregarded the concerns and opposition of local residents and the international community while pursuing a measure that will cause irreversible contamination to our oceans. It must stop immediately.

In a recent hearing, Fukushima residents and fishermen voiced strong opposition to dumping radioactive water into the ocean, a plan that they labeled “unacceptable.” The position of the Japanese government is that the storage tanks that have held contaminated rainwater and groundwater since the nuclear accident will run out of room in the summer of 2022, forcing an ocean dump. But civic groups have criticized the government for attempting to ram through its dumping plan as the cheapest option, even though more tanks could be safely installed after re-zoning large tracts of land around the Fukushima reactor.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the reactor, argues that all radioactive matter but tritium has been removed from the contaminated water in the tanks through purification based on the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS). TEPCO argues that the tritium that would be released along with the contaminated water is no worse than the tritium that’s already released into the ocean and atmosphere during the operation of nuclear reactors around the world. But the 1.2 million tons of contaminated water that TEPCO claims has been “processed” still contains between 100 and 20,000 times the permitted amount of cancer- and mutation-causing matter, according to international environmental group Greenpeace.

According to Greenpeace’s analysis, contaminated water from the reactor, once released into the ocean, would be carried by ocean currents to South Korea’s east coast within a year. Exposing the east coast to water contaminated with deadly radioactivity for 30 years would present a serious threat to the maritime ecosystem and to public health. The UN Human Rights Council released a statement in June expressing grave concern about reports indicating that the Japanese government is accelerating plans to dump radioactive water from Fukushima.

The Korean government has set up a task force under the Office of the Prime Minister to track the steps taken by the Japanese government, but it needs to ask for more information and work even harder to sound the alarm in the international community. As a neighbor, Korea has every right to raise the issue with the Japanese government. Seoul needs to press the issue, both in Tokyo and in other countries, for the sake of Koreans’ health and the future of East Asia.

http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/english_editorials/956441.html

 

August 7, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima localities speak out against dumping radioactive water in sea

Storage tanks for radioactive water are seen at tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture

Storage tanks for radioactive water are seen at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan February 18, 2019. Picture taken February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. projects that tanks at the Fukushima No. 1 plant that hold contaminated water will reach capacity in the summer of 2022.
 
July 17, 2020
 
Seventeen out of 59 municipal assemblies in Fukushima Prefecture have either passed a resolution or issued a statement opposing the discharge into the Pacific Ocean of treated radioactive water currently stored at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, a Fukushima Minpo survey has shown.
 
The resolutions and statements also described measures taken by the central government as inadequate to combat reputational damage to food and fishery goods produced in Fukushima Prefecture, and the hope that local voices will be reflected in Tokyo’s decision on whether to release the tritium-tainted water into the sea.
 
Fukushima Minpo conducted a survey of assemblies in the prefecture’s 59 cities, towns and villages from June 18 to June 24. The assembly for the town of Namie, close to where the nuclear power plant is located, adopted a resolution that opposed the release of the radioactive water into the sea, while assemblies from the town of Miharu and village of Nishigo both issued statements opposing both sea discharge and evaporation as methods for disposing of the water.
 
Many municipal assemblies have urged the central government to instead come up with measures involving long-term storage of the contaminated water in tanks and to fight rumors related to Fukushima produce.
 
Some assemblies said deliberations over issuing similar resolutions or statements were ongoing.
 
Assemblies in the cities of Minamisoma and Date are still deliberating on the topic, while 11 others said they were planning to discuss it in the future, indicating a strong possibility that more than half of authorities either had already or were likely to adopt some kind of statement on the matter.
 
In February, a government panel tasked with assessing how to deal with the tanks endlessly being filled with radioactive water said releasing the liquid into the sea or evaporating it were “realistic options.” It also recommended that dumping the contaminated water into the sea was technically more feasible.
 
Resolutions and statements have been issued by local assemblies since that time, during their regular assembly sessions in March and June.
 
Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc., the plant operator, projects that the tanks at the Fukushima No. 1 plant will reach capacity in the summer of 2022.
 
The Nuclear Regulation Authority has said it needs about two years to prepare for the water to be released into the sea, fueling speculation that the central government will make a final decision this summer. Ministers with responsibility for the issue have repeatedly said they cannot shelve the decision.
 
In its recommendation, the panel said the government needed to “listen thoroughly to the diverse opinions of relevant parties” before making the decision. Government sources have said it will look into doing so, but it is unclear how those opinions would affect the decision.
 

 

July 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Rally opposes proposal for Fukushima radioactive wastewater

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July 12, 2020

Dozens of young people in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture have rallied against a government panel’s proposal on how to dispose of radioactive wastewater stored at the crippled Daiichi nuclear power plant.

About 50 people, including fisheries workers, marched through Koriyama City on Sunday.

The demonstration was organized by a group of Fukushima residents in their 20s and 30s, who said detrimental rumors about the prefecture may circulate if the wastewater is disposed of improperly.

Group representative Sato Taiga said a survey shows that most respondents do not know about the issue. He added that he hopes the group’s activities will raise awareness among people, including the younger generation.

Water used to cool molten nuclear fuel from the 2011 accident at the plant has most of the radioactive materials removed before being stored in tanks. But the treated water still contains tritium and some other radioactive substances.

The amount stored has reached some 1.2 million tons. The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, expects to reach capacity around the summer of 2022.

In February, a government panel compiled a report that says a realistic solution is releasing the wastewater into the sea or air after diluting it in compliance with environmental and other standards.

The government is in the process of hearing opinions from local governments and relevant organizations before making its final decision on how to dispose of the treated water.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200713_04/

July 16, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima nuclear waste decision also a human rights issue

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By Baskut Tuncak

July 8, 2020

In a matter of weeks, the government of Japan will have the opportunity to demonstrate to the world how much it values protecting human rights and the environment and to meet its international obligations.

In the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, myself and other U.N. special rapporteurs consistently raised concerns about the approaches taken by the government of Japan. We have been concerned that raising of “acceptable limits” of radiation exposure to urge resettlement violated the government’s human rights obligations to children.

We have been concerned of the possible exploitation of migrants and the poor for radioactive decontamination work. Our most recent concern is how the government used the COVID-19 crisis to dramatically accelerate its timeline for deciding whether to dump radioactive wastewater accumulating at Fukushima Daiichi in the ocean.

Setting aside the duties incumbent on Japan to consult and protect under international law, it saddens me to think that a country that has suffered the horrors of being the only country on which not one but two nuclear bombs were dropped during war, would continue on a such a path in dealing with the radioactive aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.

 

kjlkmùBaskut Tuncak

 

Releasing the toxic wastewater collected from the Fukushima nuclear plant would be, without question, a terrible blow to the livelihood of local fishermen. Regardless of the health and environmental risks, the reputational damage would be irreparable, an invisible and permanent scar upon local seafood. No amount of money can replace the loss of culture and dignity that accompany this traditional way of life for these communities.

The communities of Fukushima, so devastated by the tragic events of March 11, 2011, have in recent weeks expressed their concerns and opposition to the discharge of the contaminated water into their environment. It is their human right to an environment that allows for living a life in dignity, to enjoy their culture, and to not be exposed deliberately to additional radioactive contamination. Those rights should be fully respected and not be disregarded by the government in Tokyo.

The discharge of nuclear waste to the ocean could damage Japan’s international relations. Neighboring countries are already concerned about the release of large volumes of radioactive tritium and other contaminants in the wastewater.

Japan has a duty under international law to prevent transboundary environmental harm. More specifically, under the London Convention, Japan has an obligation to take precaution with the respect to the dumping of waste in the ocean. Given the scientific uncertainty of the health and environmental impacts of exposure to low-level radiation, the disposal of this wastewater would be completely inconsistent with the spirit, if not the letter, of this law.

Indigenous peoples have an internationally recognized right to free, prior and informed consent. This includes the disposal of waste in their waters and actions that may contaminate their food. No matter how small the Japanese government believes this contamination will be of their water and food, there is an unquestionable obligation to consult with potentially affected indigenous peoples that it has not met.

The Japanese government has not, and cannot, assure itself of meaningful consultations as required under international human rights law during the current pandemic. There is no justification for such a dramatically accelerated timeline for decision making during the covid-19 crisis. Japan has the physical space to store wastewater for many years.

I have reported annually to the U.N. Human Rights Council for the past six years. Whether the topic was on child rights or worker’s rights, in nearly each and every one of those discussion at the United Nations, the situation of Fukushima Daiichi is raised by concerned observers for the world to hear. Intervening organizations have pleaded year-after-year for the Japanese government to extend an invitation to visit so I can offer recommendations to improve the situation. I regret that my mandate is coming to an end without such an opportunity despite my repeated requests to visit and assess the situation.

The disaster of 2011 cannot be undone. However, Japan still has an opportunity to minimize the damage. In my view, there are grave risks to the livelihoods of fishermen in Japan and also to its international reputation. Again, I urge the Japanese government to think twice about its legacy: as a true champion of human rights and the environment, or not.

(Baskut Tuncak has served as U.N. special rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes since 2014.)

https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/07/1145e5b3970f-opinion-fukushima-nuclear-waste-decision-also-a-human-rights-issue.html?fbclid=IwAR25F0Q5qzhv3G0MB6vHUMRRMs2fxNWyDJQswvFq_vfxFmcG_s_eELqDNFI

 

 

July 10, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , , | Leave a comment

U.N. experts urge Japan not to rush discharge of radioactive water and not ignore human rights obligations on nuclear waste disposal

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June 9, 2020

U.N. experts urge Japan not to rush discharge of radioactive water

Four United Nations human rights experts on Tuesday urged the Japanese government against rushing to discharge radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea until consultations are made with affected communities and neighboring countries.

“We are deeply concerned by reports that the Government of Japan has accelerated its timeline for the release of radioactive wastewater into the ocean without time or opportunity for meaningful consultations,” the experts said in a press release.

The experts are imploring the government to delay its decision on releasing the radioactive water until after the coronavirus pandemic has been contained, so proper attention can be dedicated to the issue.

The concern was raised as public consultations on the release of the plant’s wastewater have been accelerated, and opinions will be solicited by next Monday. Such consultations were initially scheduled until after the now-postponed Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Japan is considering ways to safely dispose of the water contaminated with radioactive materials, including releasing it into the Pacific Ocean and evaporating it. Tanks used to store the water are expected to be filled by summer 2022.

The experts — U.N. special rapporteurs respectively on hazardous wastes, rights to food, rights to assembly and association, and rights of indigenous people — took note of credible indications that the postponement of the games sped up the government’s decision-making process.

With the pandemic also preventing in-depth consultations with relevant stakeholders, the rapporteurs called on the Japanese government to give “proper space and opportunity for consultations on the disposal of nuclear waste that will likely affect people and peoples both inside and outside of Japan.”

“COVID-19 must be not be used as a sleight of hand to distract from decisions that will have profound implications for people and the planet for generations to come,” they said, raising the alarm that a discharge will pose a grave threat to the livelihoods of local fishermen.

https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/06/6f6afd14d6a4-un-experts-urge-japan-not-to-rush-discharge-of-radioactive-water.html

 

Fukushima: Japan must not ignore human rights obligations on nuclear waste disposal – UN experts

GENEVA (9 June 2020) – UN human rights experts* today urged the Japanese Government to delay any decision on the ocean-dumping of nuclear waste water from the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi until after the COVID-19 crisis has passed and proper international consultations can be held.

“We are deeply concerned by reports that the Government of Japan has accelerated its timeline for the release of radioactive waste water into the ocean without time or opportunity for meaningful consultations,” the independent experts said. Credible sources indicate the postponement of the 2020 Olympics enabled the Government’s new decision-making process for release of the waste.

They said the Government’s short extension for the current public consultation was grossly insufficient while COVID-19 measures limited opportunities for input from all affected communities in Japan, as well as those in neighbouring countries, including indigenous peoples.

“COVID-19 must be not be used as a sleight of hand to distract from decisions that will have profound implications for people and the planet for generations to come,” the experts said. “There will be grave impacts on the livelihood of local Japanese fisher folk, but also the human rights of people and peoples outside of Japan.”

They said there was no need for hasty decisions because adequate space was available for additional storage tanks to increase capacity, and the public consultation originally was not expected to be held until after the 2020 Olympics.

“We call on the government of Japan to give proper space and opportunity for consultations on the disposal of nuclear waste that will likely affect people and peoples both inside and outside of Japan. We further call on the Government of Japan to respect the right of indigenous peoples to free prior and informed consent and to respect their right to assemble and associate to form such a consent.”

The experts have communicated their concerns to the Government of Japan. UN experts have previously raised concerns over the increase of exposure levels to radiation deemed “acceptable” for the general public, and for the use of vulnerable workers in efforts to clean up after the nuclear disaster.

ENDS

*The experts: Mr. Baskut Tuncak, Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes; Mr. Michael Fakhri, Special Rapporteur on the right to food; Mr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; and Mr. José Francisco Calí Tzay, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25940&LangID=E

 

June 11, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s radioactive water problem

Water should be stored at nuclear site, not dumped in the Pacific

new-fuku-water-slider

By Linda Pentz Gunter

We are republishing this story this week, as the Japanese government is now threatening the imminent dumping of the radiologically contaminated water, stored at the Fukushima nuclear site, into the Pacific Ocean. The article below provides the background on this issue and the alternative choices. Our Japanese activist friends are urging us all to sign onto their petitions — there is one for groups to sign and one for individuals — asking the Japanese government not to dump 1.2 million cubic meters of radioactive water into the ocean. Japan civil society groups and Fukushima fishing unions are strongly opposed to this needless ocean discharge. Groups please sign here. Individuals please sign here.

Original article, published September 15, 2019, follows:

Last week, Japan’s then environment minister, Yoshiaki Harada, made news with a pronouncement that wasn’t news. The storage tanks at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear site, filled with radioactive water, were reaching capacity. By 2022 there would be no room for more tanks on the present site. Japan would then have to dump the radioactive water stored in the tanks into the Pacific Ocean, he said.

Although likely unrelated to those remarks, a day later, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dispatched 19 of his cabinet ministers, including Harada. Harada was replaced as environment minister by rising star, Shinjiro Koizumi, the son of former primer minister, Junichiro Koizumi. Both father and son are opposed to nuclear energy, and on his first day in office, the younger Koizumi told reporters that he believed Japan should end its use of nuclear energy and close its nuclear power plants.

01Shinjiro Koizumi, Japan’s new environment minister, says Japan should cease using nuclear power.

I would like to study how we scrap them, not how to retain them,” Reuters reported him saying. This is a surprising position from someone inside the fervently pro-nuclear Abe government and it remains to be seen whether he will be allowed to translate his position into policy.

Dumping Fukushima Daiichi’s accumulated radioactive water has long been the plan proposed by Tepco, the site owner. Fukushima fishermen, along with some scientists and a number of NGOs from around the world, continue to object.

We addressed this issue briefly on a recent TRT broadcast (see video below).

Cooling water is needed at the Fukushima site because, when Units 1, 2 and 3 lost power, they also lost the flow of reactor coolant, causing their cores to overheat. The fuel rods then melted, and molten fuel dripped down and burned through the pressure vessels, pooling in the primary containment vessels. Units 1, 3 and 4 also suffered hydrogen explosions. Each day, about 200 metric tons of cooling water is used to keep the three melted cores cool, lest they once more go critical. Eventually the water becomes too radioactive and thermally hot to be re-used, and must be discarded and stored in the tanks.

As Greenpeace International (GPI) explained in remarks and questions submitted during a consultative meeting held by the International Maritime Organization in August 2019:

“Since 2011, in order to cool the molten cores in the Tokyo Electric Power Company Fukushima Daiichi reactor units 1-3, water is continuously pumped through the damaged Reactor Pressure Vessels (RPVs) and circulated through reactor buildings, turbine buildings, the Process Main Building and the “High Temperature Incinerator Building”  and water treatment systems.

“As a result, the past eight years has seen a relentless increase in the volume of radioactive contaminated water accumulating on site. As of 4 July 2019, the total amount of contaminated water held in 939 storage tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi plant (units 1-4) was 1,145,694 m3 (tonnes). The majority of this, 1,041,710 m3, is contaminated processed water. In the year to April 2019, approximately 180 m3/day of water was being circulated into the RPVs of units 1-3.”

In addition to the cooling water, the tanks also house water that has run down from the nearby mountains, at a rate of about 100 tons each day. This water flows onto the site and seeps into the reactor buildings. There, it becomes radioactively contaminated and also must be collected and stored, to prevent it from flowing on down into the sea.

The water tank crisis is just one of multiple and complex problems at the Fukushima Daiichi site, including the eventual need to extract the molten fuel debris from inside the stricken reactors. Decommissioning cannot begin until the water storage tanks are removed.

Tepco has tried to mitigate the radioactive water problem in a number of ways. The infamous $320 million ice wall was an attempt to freeze and block inflow, but has had mixed results and has worked only intermittently. Wells were dug to try to divert the runoff water so it does not pick up contamination. The ice wall has reportedly reduced the flow of groundwater somewhat, but only down from 500 tons a day to about 100 tons.

In anticipation of dumping the tank water into the Pacific Ocean, Tepco has deployed an Advanced Liquid Processing System that the company claims can remove 62 isotopes from the water — all except tritium, which is radioactive hydrogen and therefore cannot be filtered out of water. (Tritium is routinely discharged by operating commercial nuclear power plants).

jkhijkTepco’s “Land-side Impermeable Wall” (Frozen soil wall).

 

But, like the ice wall, the filtration system has also been plagued by malfunctions. According to GPI, Tepco admitted only last year that the system had “failed to reduce radioactivity to levels below the regulatory limit permissible for ocean disposal” in at least 80% of the tanks’ inventory. Indeed, said GPI, “the levels of Strontium-90 are more than 100 times the regulatory standard according to TEPCO, with levels at 20,000 times above regulations in some tanks.”

The plan to dump the water has raised the ire of South Korea, whose fish stocks would likely also be contaminated. And it has introduced the question of whether such a move is a violation of The Conventions of the Rights of the Child and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as was raised in a joint written statement by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and Greenpeace International, before the UN Human Rights Council currently in session.

So what else could or should Tepco do, if not dump the water offshore and into the ocean? A wide consensus amongst scientific, environmental and human rights groups is that on-site storage for the indefinite future is the only acceptable option, while research must continue into possible ways to extract all of the radioactive content, including tritium.

Meanwhile, a panel of experts says it will examine a number of additional but equally problematic choices, broadly condensed into four options (each with some variations — to  dilute or not to dilute etc):

  • Ground (geosphere) injection (which could bring the isotopes in contact with groundwater);
  • Vapor release (which could infiltrate weather patterns and return as fallout);
  • Releasing it as hydrogen (it would still contain tritium gas); and
  • Solidification followed by underground burial (for which no safe, permanent storage environment has yet been found, least of all in earthquake-prone Japan).

Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds, recommends a chemical injection processes (drilling mud) — also used by the oil industry — to stop the flow of water onto the site entirely. But he says Japan has never considered this option. GPI contends that Japan has never seriously researched any of the alternatives, sticking to the ocean dumping plan, the cheapest and fastest “fix.”

All of this mess is of course an inevitable outcome of the choice to use nuclear power in the first place. Even without an accident, no safe, permanent storage solution has been found for the high-level radioactive waste produced through daily operation of commercial nuclear power plants, never mind as the result of an accident.

According to Dr. M.V. Ramana, by far the best solution is to continue to store the radioactive water, even if that means moving some of the storage tanks to other locations to make more room for new ones at the nuclear site. The decision to dump the water, Ramana says, is in line with Abe’s attempts to whitewash the scene before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and claim, as he has publicly in the past, that everything at Fukushima is “under control.” (Baseball and softball games will be played in Fukushima Prefecture and the torch relay will start there, all in an effort to pretend there are no dangerous nuclear after-effects remaining in the area.)

“The reason that they keep saying they need to release it is because they might have to move some of this offsite and that goes against the Abe government’s interest in creating the perception that Fukushima is a closed chapter,” Ramana wrote in an email. “So it is a political decision rather than a technical one.”

As with all things nuclear, there are diverging views on the likely impact to the marine environment and to human health, from dumping Fukushima’s radioactive water into the ocean. These run the gamut from “a little tritium won’t hurt you” to “the Pacific Ocean is dead thanks to Fukushima” — both of which are wildly untrue. (Tritium can bind organically inside the body, irradiating that person or animal from within. The many problems in the Pacific began long before Fukushima and are likely caused by numerous compounding factors, including warming and pollution, with Fukushima adding to the existing woes.)

kjjmkThe effect on deep sea creatures of radioactive ocean dumping could be long-lasting.

 

What is fact, however, is that scientists have found not only the presence of isotopes such as cesium in fish they tested, but also in ocean floor sediment. This latter has the potential to serve as a more long-term source of contamination up the food chain.

But it is also important to remember that if this radioactive water is dumped, it is not an isolated event. Radioactive contamination in our oceans is already widespread, a result of years of atmospheric atomic tests. As was reported earlier this year, scientists studying deep-sea amphipods, retrieved from some of the deepest trenches in the ocean — including the Mariana Trench which reaches 36,000 feet below sea-level and is deeper than Mount Everest is high — detected elevated levels of carbon-14 in these creatures.

“The levels closely matched abundances found near the surface of the ocean, where the amount of carbon-14 is higher than usual thanks to nuclear bomb tests conducted more than half a century ago,” reported Smithsonian Magazine.

Weidong Sun, co-author of the resulting study, told Smithsonian Magazine that “Biologically, [ocean] trenches are taken to be the most pristine habitats on Earth”.

How chilling, then, to realize that our radioactive irresponsibility has reached the lowest depths, affecting creatures far removed from our rash behaviors.

Consequently, the decision by the Japanese government to release yet more radioactive contamination into our oceans must be viewed not as a one-off act of desperation, but as a contribution to cumulative contamination. This, added to the twin tragedies of climate crisis-induced ocean warming and plastics and chemicals pollution, renders it one more crime committed on the oceans, ourselves and all living things. And it reinforces the imperative to neither continue nor increase our reckless use of nuclear power as an electricity source.

Fukushima’s radioactive water problem

June 11, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Why the Japanese government’s plan to dump radioactive water into the ocean needs to be stopped.

Linda Pentz Gunter
 
This week on The Update: Why the Japanese government’s plan to dump radioactive water into the ocean needs to be stopped.
The Japanese government is one again threatening to start dumping the radioactive water currently stored in tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear site, into the ocean.
Please sign the petition urging them not to do this.

June 11, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Taiwan green groups urge Japan not to discharge radioactive water

kjmlmlA coalition of environmental protection groups chants slogan in front of the Taipei office of Japan’s de facto embassy in Taiwan, the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, on May 13, 2020

 

May 14, 2020

TAIPEI (Kyodo) — A coalition of environmental protection groups in Taiwan on Wednesday urged the Japanese government to refrain from releasing radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean.

Chanting the slogan “No to dumping radioactive water into the ocean,” representatives of the organization presented a petition to the Taipei office of Japan’s de facto embassy in Taiwan, the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, in the morning.

National Nuclear Abolition Action Platform spokeswoman Tsuei Su-hsin emphasized that they did not come to protest, but rather to urge the Japanese government to refrain from making decisions to cut costs at the expense of the environment.

“There are safer and more sustainable alternatives,” Tsuei said.

The Japanese government and the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant at the time are currently considering ways to safely dispose of the more than 1 million tons of water contaminated with radioactive materials after being used to cool the melted fuel cores at the plant.

A decision needs to be made soon as space for storing the water, which has been treated but is still contaminated with low-toxicity radioactive tritium, is fast running out.

Methods being discussed include releasing the water into the Pacific Ocean and evaporating it, both of which the government says will have minimal effect on human health.

A panel of experts advising the government on a disposal method has recommended releasing it into the ocean. The government is soliciting opinions from the public before it makes a decision in the summer. Based on past practice, it is likely to accept the recommendation.

Tsai Ya-ying, an activist and lawyer of the Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, said as Japan is a signatory of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, it is obligated to take all measures within the Convention that are necessary to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment from any source.

Discharging the water into the ocean could amount to a violation of the Convention, she said.

Liu Jyh-jian, president of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union, urged the Japanese government to make a decision that is friendly to both the environment and to mankind.

He added that if the tritium enters the food chain, it is bound to cause harm to humans in the long run.

Tsai Chung-yueh, deputy secretary general of Citizen of the Earth, voiced concern that the Japanese government may be too preoccupied with fighting COVID-19 to make a decision that is environmentally sustainable.

The contaminated water is increasing by about 170 tons per day. Space is expected to run out by summer 2022.

Local Japanese fishermen and residents have expressed concerns about releasing the water on food and the environment.

Widespread concerns remain as well, with many countries and regions still restricting imports of Japanese agricultural and fishery products in the wake of the 2011 disaster that was triggered by a major earthquake and tsunami.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200513/p2g/00m/0in/112000c

June 11, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment