China, Korea and Chile challenge Japan over Fukushima contaminated water crisis at United Nations maritime meeting

Press release - 2019-10-15
9 October 2019, London, The Japanese government was challenged today by several UN member states and Greenpeace at a meeting of the International Maritime Organization in London. States parties to the London Convention – London Protocol (LC-LP), which regulates disposal of wastes at sea, debated with the Government of Japan plans for discharging over 1 million tons of highly contaminated nuclear waste water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean. Japanese diplomats were responding to a formal submission to the IMO from Greenpeace.

Delegates from the Republic of Korea, China and Chile expressed their concerns over the potential impacts if Fukushima Daiichi contaminated water was discharged to the Pacific Ocean. China stated they shared the concerns raised by Greenpeace and Korea in relation to potential disposal of the wastes at sea and stated they hoped that Japan would provide further information in the future.

“We have seen today the depth of concern from the international community regarding what will happen with the radioactive wastes fast accumulating at the Fukushima Daiichi facility and the potential for widespread marine pollution.  In response to our questions, Japan has provided some further information to the countries assembled here at the IMO, but we are still no closer to a guarantee that these wastes will not be disposed of into the marine environment,” said Dr David Santillo, senior scientist with Greenpeace Research Laboratories, University of Exeter. "There is a willingness among parties to assist Japan in finding solutions that don't involve polluting the oceans - we hope that Japan will be receptive to that and will see this as an international and not a domestic issue".

Greenpeace has been campaigning for the Japanese government to abandon plans for discharge to the Pacific Ocean and opt instead for long term storage and processing as the only acceptable option.(1) Greenpeace, in its submission to the IMO, had called on Japan to provide detailed technical answers to questions over the contaminated water at Fukushima Daiichi. These included, the failure of the ALPS water processing technology to remove dangerous radioactive materials, including Strontium-90, and failure to deploy available technology for removing radioactive tritium. A Japanese government committee is currently reviewing options for the contaminated water. Under pressure from civil society and local communities in Fukushima in Japan, the committee has now included the option of long term storage, having ruled this out in 2016. In the last months, the Japanese government has come under pressure from the South Korea government to abandon the option to discharge the contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean.

“Korea is right that this is a matter that should be discussed and resolved internationally, including through the mechanisms of the London Protocol, and we hope that the Korean government will continue to call upon Japan for a resolution that keeps these radioactive wastes out of the ocean," said Santillo.

In polling, commissioned by Greenpeace and released on 1 October, showed overall Japanese public opinion was 48.6% opposed to discharge of contaminated water into the Pacific, while only 12.9% were in favor.(2)

For further information:

Dr David Santillo - senior scientist with Greenpeace Research Laboratories, University of Exeter -

 

NOTES

1 - Greenpeace Germany, “TEPCO Water Crisis”, 22 January 2019, Shaun Burnie, see https://storage.googleapis.com/planet4-japan-stateless/2019/06/eef0f147-tepco_water_crisis.pdf 

 2 - Greenpeace commissioned Rakuten Insight a member of the JMRA (Japan Marketing Research AssociationJapan Marketing Research Association) and the ESOMAR (Europe Society Opinion and Market Research Association); poll results (in Japanese) - https://storage.googleapis.com/planet4-japan-stateless/2019/09/b3d20ee4-%E6%B1%9A%E6%9F%93%E6%B0%B4%E6%84%8F%E8%AD%98%E8%AA%BF%E6%9F%BB%E7%B5%90%E6%9E%9C.pdf

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