Group Intro: Lawsuit to Halt ALPS Treated Water Discharge

By Chiwaki Miwa, Plaintiff in Lawsuit Seeking an Injunction against the Release of ALPS-Treated Contaminated Water

On August 24, 2023, the discharge of radioactive contaminated water from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (FDNPS) began. This water had been in contact with the nuclear fuel debris which melted down due to the accident at FDNPS in 2011. It is said that the contaminated water will continue being discharged for at least the next 30 years. This is a reckless action, paying no concern to the many people opposed to it both in Japan and abroad. Not only are people in fisheries and fishery-related businesses opposed to it, but so are those in forestry and agriculture, tourism, cooperatives and other industries. As of 2020, nearly 70% of the municipalities of Fukushima Prefecture had adopted positions opposed to or wary about it. More than 640,000 signatures in opposition have been gathered in total by numerous organizations in various campaigns. Our organization, Citizen’s Conference to Condemn Further Pollution of the Ocean (Kore Umi) has conducted a variety of activities, including hosting lectures by specialists, holding assemblies at Onahama Port in Iwaki City, having meetings with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) to exchange views, and making proposals to Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). From countries all around the world, we have received many photos documenting the efforts of opposition movements in their respective countries.

METI, on the other hand, paid Dentsu Inc. (an international advertising and public relations firm) 1.2 billion yen to conduct a massive publicity campaign for two weeks in December 2022, calling it “an initiative to foster public understanding of ALPS treated water.” They are also using a portion of the 30 billion yen in the “Fund to Address Issues with the Oceanic Discharge of ALPS Treated Water” to implement a strategy of public relations surges to overwhelm the opposition.

In addition, they are conducting a major campaign to convey that “it’s safe to discharge ALPS treated water,” paying 380 million yen for an “information dissemination initiative through diverse media contents for the purpose of dispelling rumors.” Moreover, the oceanic discharge has gone ahead and started, but we will not give up hope. To put an end to it as soon as possible, we filed a lawsuit, in Fukushima District Court called the “Lawsuit Seeking an Injunction against the Release of ALPS-Treated Contaminated Water.” The first hearing was on September 8 and the second on November 9. The plaintiffs, numbering about 300, from Fukushima Prefecture, Tokyo and five other prefectures located along the Pacific coast, include evacuees and people in fisheries and fishery-related businesses. The defendants are TEPCO, against whom a civil injunction has been filed, and the Government of Japan, against whom an administrative lawsuit has been filed.

The plaintiffs’ legal bases for requesting an injunction are the personal rights of fishing people and the exercising of these rights. The personal rights of other fishery-related people and citizens in general are also involved (the right to subsistence and the right to live in peace in an uncontaminated environment). The water release is proceeding despite other options being available and even though there is no urgency to go ahead with the release. Moreover,  further increasing environmental pollution is illegal, being in contravention to environmental laws and treaties.

Japan’s government promotes itself as complying with IAEA’s safety standards, but this is not the point. The justification for the release is that holding the contaminated water in tanks means that there is no space to store the melted down fuel debris when it is retrieved from inside the reactors, but there is land available at the site for building new tanks to hold the contaminated water, while there are at present no prospects for retrieval of the radioactive debris causing the contamination.

To put an end to the oceanic discharge of radioactive contaminated water as soon as possible, we ask for everyone to support the trial.

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