Sunday, April 21, 2024
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Japan’s intention will not go ahead: Puna

Pacific Islands Forum Secretary-General Henry Puna says Japan’s intention to release 1.3 million tons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean will not go ahead after scientific research is conducted.

In a press conference with the Tongan Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku, Puna said a political agreement has been reached and that Japan will not go ahead until and unless the Pacific Islands Forum and Japan comes to an agreement after scientific and technical research is done on the radioactive water material.

Puna said that the Secretariat has had to be very sensitive in dealing with Japan, as they have been good longstanding partners of the region.

He said that in 2021, Japan announced that it will discharge water used to cool the damaged nuclear reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

“There is a process under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Guidelines that in the release of water in the normal case of operations from the plant – that have not been damaged. However, the Fukushima Plant was severely damaged during the earthquake and Tsunami in 2021.”

“The suspicious is that there are some nuclear contaminants in that water, that needs to be properly treated if it is to be discharged into the ocean. I acknowledge that it was a major nuclear disaster, but the water used to cool the plant was not discharged by the Company.”

The Secretary-General indicated that the ocean was critical to the Pacific Islanders and pivotal to keeping our ocean healthy for the Pacific’s future.

He said the Secretariat had to engage a panel of scientists to us Pacific Island leaders if Japan’s intention to discharge 1.3 million tons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean was safe or not.

“Our scientists have been engaging with Japan and their reports have been full of frustrations, because they have not been able to obtain data and the information they need to make a scientific assessment of the status of the water. The Scientists have also indicated that there were too many missing gaps that needed to be addressed in order for Pacific Island Leaders to be satisfied that it is indeed safe to discharge the waste water,” Puna added.

However, The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which owns the power station, says it is running out of space to store the water on land.

Radioactivity levels in the discharged water will be too low to pose a risk to marine life or humans, TEPCO says, and its plan has the blessing of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

IAEA nuclear safety official Gustavo Caruso, who heads a special agency task force on Fukushima, said Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has procedures in place to ensure the discharge meets international safety standards.

Ilaitia Ravuwai
Ilaitia Ravuwai
Journalist | news@fijilive.com

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