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Guam senator: Pacific islanders to bear the long-term impact of looming Fukushima water release

Updated: Jul 21, 2023


By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

A Guam senator frowned on the UN nuclear watchdog’s approval of Japan’s plan to discharge 1 million tons of water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean, saying it failed to require safer options.

Sabina Perez

Sen. Sabina Perez said the impending release of radioactive water into the sea is "extremely alarming" and represents “the latest example of the types of environmental injustice we face.”


Known for her environmental activism, Perez is the author of a legislative resolution calling on Japan to further explore alternatives to the water-dumping plan.

Resolution 93-37 is awaiting a public hearing. If adopted by the legislature, Guam would join the Northern Marianas and other neighboring islands in pressing Japan to reconsider Tokyo Electric Power Company’s proposition.


"The Pacific Ocean is more than just a body of water for the people of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the greater Oceania, and Pacific coastal communities—it's an integral part of our lives that connects us to our heritage, sustains our economies, and feeds our communities," Perez said. “Pacific islands have suffered disproportionately from the nuclear actions of others in the past.”


Despite concerns raised by fishing communities and other countries in the region, the International Atomic Energy Agency has given TEPCO the nod on its water-disposal method.


“I’m deeply concerned with the outcome of last week’s IAEA report, which fails to address safer alternatives or follow-up tasks and long-term monitoring,” Perez said.


“The people of the Pacific are expected to bear the cost of foreign powers’ nuclear decisions at the expense of our economies, security, environment and health,” Resolution 93-37 states.


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In a foreword to the report, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said a “comprehensive assessment” led the agency to conclude that Japan's chosen method of discharging Advanced Liquid Processing System-treated water is "consistent with relevant international safety standards.”


Perez’s resolution stated that the existing ALPS technology is unable to properly remove the radionuclide tritium from the Fukushima wastewater. “Tritium is a relatively weak source of beta radiation with a half-life of 12.3 years, but it may be absorbed into the body through the skin or when ingested through water or food, or when inhaled.”


The resolution cited a 2022 study that warned of the “decades-long damage that will have widespread consequences and long-term effects on human health and the global marine environment.”


“I hope that with the passage of Resolution 93-37, we can join the international community in urging the government of Japan to consider alternatives in order to prevent imminent and irrevocable harm to the health of the people and environment,” Perez said.




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