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PARS says Guam will bear the cost of easing the impact of nuke water release

Japan set to dump Fukushima water into Pacific Ocean

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

Radiation survivors on Guam raised concerns about the impact of Japan’s impending release of radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean, saying the island will shoulder the cost of mitigating its adverse effects on the island's marine resources.

Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Company will begin discharging the water treated with multi-nuclide removal equipment, also known as ALPS, on Thursday amid a divided regional stance on the safety of the release process.

“As an atomic veteran and native of Guam, we need to ensure the safety and protection of our people and our sea life,” said Robert Celestial,” president of the Pacific Association of Radiation Survivors.

Robert Celestial

“Once Japan releases their radioactive waste into the ocean, it would be the federal and local government that will purchase and place numerous monitoring stations all over Guam,” Celestial said.

Despite repeated assurances from TEPCO that the ALP-treated water will be released “with the utmost vigilance,” human rights and environment activists are up in arms against Japan’s move.

“Sea life caught for consumption should also be monitored for radiation. It would be negligent if these monitoring systems are not put in place,” Celestial said.

Former Guam Sen. Judi Guthertz is not convinced by the Japanese government’s assurance that the water release would pose an insignificant risk.

“All islanders should be very concerned about this plan. The dynamics of dumping the residue of the Fukushima nuclear plant disposal will impact island waters and communities. The impact may not be felt immediately, but in the near future,” said Guthertz, a member of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council.

“There really is no way to purify the contaminated water from the plant 100 percent. The potential environmental impact on our people and our marine environment really concerns me,” she added.

In a statement posted on its website, TEPCO said it will “devote all of its resources to ensuring the safety and quality of facility operation, speedily obtaining monitoring results and disseminating that information in an accurate and easy-to-understand manner.”

TEPCO said the long-term discharge of ALPS-treated water into the sea is part of the decommissioning of the Fukushima power plant which was crippled by the 2011 earthquake.


TEPCO's Fukushima water release plan was approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Ranking leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum put confidence in IAEA's declaration that the water release process would be safe.

During their Aug. 11 meeting, in Fiji, the state leaders of Cook Islands, Tonga and Fiji said they acknowledged Japan’s reassurance “that discharge would not take place if it was not verifiably safe to do so and reaffirmed the importance of science and data to guide decisions on the discharge.”

They noted the “ongoing intensive and sustained dialogue with Japan and the IAEA.”

Along with Fiji, Tonga and Cook Islands, Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia have also expressed support for Japan’s Fukushima water release plan.

Japan’s decision, however, doesn’t sit well with the international environment advocacy group Greenpeace.

“The decision disregards scientific evidence, violates the human rights of communities in Japan and the Pacific region, and is non-compliant with international maritime law. More importantly, it ignores its people’s concerns, including fishermen," Greenpeace said in a statement.

Greenpeace said the Japanese government and TEPCO “falsely assert that there is no alternative to the decision to discharge and that it is necessary to move toward final decommissioning.

“We are deeply disappointed and outraged by the Japanese Government’s announcement to release water containing radioactive substances into the ocean. Despite concerns raised by fishermen, citizens, Fukushima residents, and the international community, especially in the Pacific region and neighboring countries, this decision has been made,” said Hisayo Takada, project manager at Greenpeace Japan.

The Fiji-based Pacific Network on Globalization called on the United Nations Human Rights Council “to prevent severe and irreversible human rights violations” that will result from the dumping of nuclear-contaminated wastewater into the Pacific Ocean.

“The ocean dumping of nuclear-contaminated wastewater into the Pacific Ocean is an imminent threat, and the only way to prevent Japan from conducting severe and irreversible human rights violations is for the UN Human Rights Council to call for an immediate pause on the dump until all effects have been assessed and less harmful alternatives exhausted,” PANG said in a statement.

TEPCO, for its part, said the treated water will be carefully discharged using a two-step process.

The initial discharge of "a very small amount of ALPS treated water will be diluted with seawater and stored in the vertical discharge shaft (upstream water tank) in order to verify that ALPS treated water is being diluted as planned."

"After this stored water has been sampled and tritium concentrations measured, we will move on to Stage 2, continuous discharge into the sea on and after Aug. 24," TEPCO said.

"In order to steadily move forward with these initiatives, and, in particular, ensure that nothing is overlooked during the initial stages of discharge into the sea, we shall quickly create a corporate structure that will enable upper management to ascertain field conditions in a timely manner, and allow the entire company to devote all its resources inter-departmentally to quickly solve issues thereby enabling us to be prepared for anything," TEPCO said.

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