Pacific not 'sewer' of Fukushima water, more time needed for assessment



Twelve years ago, after the Fukushima nuclear accident, Japan received assistance from all over the world. After 12 years, Japan has decided to put the whole human race at risk of nuclear pollution. The 1972 Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter forbids the disposal of any radioactive waste into the ocean from any man-made structures at sea, and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea stipulates that states shave the duty to protect and preserve the marine environment.

The Japanese government started to dump over a million tons of radioactively tainted water into the sea after supposedly running out of storage capacity. Many people are angered by this, including many governments, which reasonably (maybe on a moral level) view this choice as unacceptable.

Japan's actions go against both its commitments under international law and its moral obligations to the world. The radioisotopes strontium-90, cesium-137, and carbon-14 that officials feel pose the most risk have reportedly been removed from the water through treatment. However, because it would be too expensive to remove the tritium, most of the radioactive water is now tritiated water, which is contaminated with tritium oxide.

There are also nontritium radionuclides that, as noted by scientists like Ken Buesseler, Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress, and Antony M. Hooker, are "generally of greater health concern as evidenced by their much higher dose coefficient – a measure of the dose, or potential human health impacts associated with a given radioactive element, relative to its measured concentration, or radioactivity level."

In addition to disregarding scientific data, the decision also transgresses international maritime law and the human rights of people in Japan and the Pacific. More importantly, it disregarded the worries of fishermen.

Despite the concerns of the domestic society and the international community, Japan has insisted on using the Pacific Ocean as a "sewer" and dumping nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean. Will Japan's purifying facility continue to work well over the next three decades? When the water discharged exceeds the discharge limit? Can the global community be promptly informed? What effects would the long-term buildup and concentration of radionuclides have on food safety, human health, and the marine environment? The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report did not provide answers to these queries.

Furthermore, the Japanese government aims to restart more nuclear reactors despite evidence of serious earthquakes and safety hazards, the ongoing nuclear catastrophe, and the enormous amount of public monies necessary. The climate emergency requires secure and sustainable renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, which the current government energy strategy cannot provide.

As a significant trading route for global trade, the Pacific Ocean is home to all countries in the region. Humanity may suffer from Pacific Ocean pollution, with potentially disastrous results. Before officially publishing it, it was hoped that the IAEA would take additional time and perform in-depth research, taking all potential factors and risks into account.

The wide-ranging impact on humanity must be reevaluated by all responsible governments and countries. The idea is to conduct a second assessment in a competent manner and come to a decision that is safer for humanity.

Japan's discharge plans have received opposition and criticism from UN Special Rapporteurs and member states at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. At a time when the world's oceans are already under a great deal of pressure, the Japanese government has chosen a false answer – decades of deliberate radioactive poisoning of the marine environment. This is an outrage that breaches the human rights of the residents of Fukushima, as well as those of other nearby prefectures and the larger Asia-Pacific area.

Several nations have expressed alarm over the proposed action, including worry that the IAEA may have been coerced into drawing conclusions about the Japanese release program. Tokyo is a kind benefactor to the organization, after all. The assertion that "Japanese funding and staffing at the IAEA [could be used] to question the neutrality of the IAEA final report" infuriated Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, who said that such critique is not only completely missing the target but also shakes the significance of the existence of international organizations."

The Pacific Island nations also worried about the future of the blue Pacific, while China, South Korea, and members of Japan's fishing and agricultural industries have all been outspoken opponents. It is clear that Japan is defying international laws and violating human rights.

Japan will be responsible for the consequences if it insists on carrying out the plan. The country's government is implored to cooperate with the IAEA to establish a long-term international monitoring system that would include all relevant parties, including Japan's neighbors.