CNIC Statement: We strongly protest the decision to discharge ALPS treated water into the Pacific Ocean and demand the withdrawal of this policy
<English Translation of Statement published on April 10, 2021>
Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center Co-Directors: Yamaguchi Yukio, Nishio Baku, Ban Hideyuki
It is reported that the government will decide on April 13 whether to release (= dump) into the ocean the treated water (= contaminated water) stored in tanks at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, based on a plan compiled by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in February 2020. In the meantime, METI has been listening to the opinions of various segments of Fukushima residents, and has heard strong opposition from many groups, including agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and citizens’ groups. Ignoring these voices and forcing through their decision to dump the waste into the ocean is unacceptable for the following reasons. We strongly protest and call for the withdrawal of this policy.
(1) No agreement has been reached on ocean dumping
According to media reports, Hiroshi Kishi, chairman of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Cooperative Associations, who met with Prime Minister Suga on April 7, said, “We have not changed our opposition in the slightest. Not only fishermen’s groups in Fukushima Prefecture, but also fishermen’s groups and fishery companies in the coastal areas of Miyagi Prefecture have voiced their strong opposition. In addition, 45 cities, towns, and villages in Fukushima Prefecture (about 70% of all cities, towns, and villages in the prefecture) have expressed their opposition or are calling for caution. The tourism industry in Fukushima Prefecture has also expressed its concerns about harmful rumors (= actual damage) at government hearings.
The government has repeatedly acted contrary to the promise it made itself that it would not take any action without the understanding of all concerned. It is an act that makes us lose confidence in the government’s promise not only for the present but also for the future. Moreover, TEPCO, which promised not to release the waste without the understanding of fishermen, should oppose the government policy if it wants to keep its promise. This is nothing short of extremely irresponsible.
(2) Negative impact on Fukushima’s economy by forcing ocean dumping
Many fishermen have already voiced their fears that the coastal fishery industry, which has finally started full-scale operations after a trial run, will suffer a devastating blow. It is also highly likely that countries that have banned imports of goods from Japan’s northeast will strengthen or prolong their bans. This will have a negative impact not only on the fishing industry, but also on agriculture and tourism, and will slow down rather than accelerate the recovery process.
(3) UN experts warn of human rights violations
Five UN experts, including the Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights and the Special Rapporteur on the right to physical and mental health, issued a statement on March 11, 2021, saying that the release of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean will increase the future health risks for children and is a violation of human rights.
(4) Impact of dumped radiation on ecosystems
Once stored, dumping is essentially different from releasing through daily operation. In addition, the contaminated water contains various radioactive materials other than tritium. Environmental accumulation and bioaccumulation of these radioactive materials may occur. There is also a concern about internal exposure of people due to the intake of these materials. Tens of millions of people have already been exposed to radiation due to the radiation released by the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. It is not enough to dilute radioactive materials.
(5) The policy should be changed to continued storage and mortar solidification.
It is said that there is no space for additional tanks, but this is not true. Concrete proposals have been made by many citizen’s groups, including CNIC and the Citizens’ Commission on Nuclear Energy. The proposals include ways to continue storage and avoid release through mortar solidification.
At the same time, there is no need to rush the removal of fuel debris, which is not yet in sight, and the decommissioning roadmap should be fundamentally revised.