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WILPF Stands Against Radioactive Water Release From Fukushima Daiichi

Above photo: Tokyo Electric Power Co., TEPCO.

The government of Japan will start releasing wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear power plant on Thursday, 24 August 2023. This wastewater has tritium which contains radioactive substances. WILPF is strongly opposed to this and considers this release of radioactive materials as an act of harm that could further contaminate the environment, and adversely impact the people and marine life in and around the Pacific nations. WILPF is a feminist peacebuilding organisation, we believe that environmental justice is one of the key pathways to peace and a just world. We must act now to protect the environment and people who share the Pacific Ocean.

Read our open letter below and share as widely as possible. This is the time to act.

Open Letter From WILPF.

Mr. Fumio Kishida, Prime Minister of Japan 

Stop the release of waste water from TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station into the ocean: Protect our people and environment – do not further contaminate our “Blue Pacific”!

After the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident in March 2011, the Japanese government and plant owner TEPCO failed to take countermeasures to protect groundwater, resulting in large amounts of radioactive contaminated water. This radioactively contaminated water has been treated by a multinuclide removal system (ALPS) and stored in more than 1,000 tanks on the power plant site. The Japanese government and TEPCO, making promises to the Fukushima Prefectural Fisheries Federation, the National Federation of Fisheries, and the people of Fukushima Prefecture, have previously stated that this ALPS treated water will not be disposed of in any way without the consent of the concerned parties, and will be stored on land.

Now, in complete contradiction to these assurances, the Japanese government and TEPCO are about to release this ALPS treated water into the Pacific ocean. These actions could have damaging and lasting consequences for the people and the environment in the Pacific region. We, women of Asia-Pacific, strongly oppose risking further radioactive contamination of our “Blue Pacific,” which has nurtured life since ancient times and is the source of lives and livelihoods!

The release of this contaminated water is in direct violation of Japanese domestic law, which prohibits exceeding 1 mSv/year at the plant’s site boundary. It also conflicts with the London Convention, ratified by Japan in 1980, which strictly regulates the dumping of radioactive waste into the ocean. This action will damage the trust between Japan and its neighbors and the Pacific Islands countries.

The vast amounts of radioactive materials that flowed into the air from the Fukushima nuclear power plant following the accident already fell mostly into the ocean, and continue to leak into the air and into the ocean to this day. This latest release of radioactive materials through nuclear waste water is an act of harm that will adversely impact the people and marine life in and around the Pacific nations.

Based on precautionary principles, radioactive waste should be stored on land for a long period of time under strict safety control to prevent any unforeseen health hazards and ecological disturbances in the future. The ALPS treated water contains tritium, which cannot be removed, as well as many other radioactive materials that remain in the water. Even if the water is diluted below the “standard value” before being released, the absolute amount of radioactive materials will not be reduced. Tritium will be dumped into the ocean for several decades in an amount approximately 10 times that before the accident. Can we really be sure that there will be no impact on people’s health or the marine ecosystem?

The IAEA’s recent summary report on the matter was a review of plans that had already been decided by the government, not a thorough assessment taking into account the aforementioned future biological impacts and the interests of all people sharing the Pacific Ocean who might be affected. Nor has there been an “optimization” review that includes other less expensive and safer alternatives, so it cannot be said to be a comprehensive assessment. Yet, the Japanese government is misleading the Japanese people and the rest of the world by promoting the IAEA report as if it were an international endorsement. Meanwhile, experts have proposed various concrete alternatives to ocean release.

The Japanese government and TEPCO should give priority to the human rights perspective of protecting the global environment and the health, lives, and livelihoods of all human beings. Abandon the ocean release plan, and reconsider other alternatives that do not risk further radioactivity in the environment.

Once released, it cannot be undone.

It is not too late. Now is the time to be courageous and stop the plan to release radioactive water into the ocean.

– WILPF International Secretariat on behalf of WILPF Sections and allies in the Asia-Pacific region

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