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The science around Fukushima wastewater

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

Questions on the process and data linked to the proposed discharge of treated nuclear wastewater into the Pacific Ocean by Japan continue to be the focus of technical dialogue between the PIF independent scientific experts and the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA.

In a second virtual meeting held June 9, representatives of the Forum and IAEA exchanged questions and responses on a range of outstanding matters.

The meeting comes as the IAEA plans to release its next report on the decision of the Japanese government to release treated Fukushima nuclear wastewater into the Pacific Ocean, despite the concerns of neighboring and Ocean states including Forum nations. The IAEA has released a series of reports, as recently as May 31, which point to a favorable finding for the release.

PIF independent experts have continued to raise questions on critical issues that relate to the protection of oceanic ecosystems, a thorough application of safety and environmental rules, including IAEA’s GSG-8, and how elementary rules, notably in relation to the ALARA principle, should be applied with reference to transboundary issues. ALARA is the guiding principle of radiation safety and stands for “as low as reasonably achievable.”


ALARA means avoiding exposure to radiation that does not have a direct benefit to humans, even if the dose is small. As per the discussions and position of the IAEA in respect of adherence to standards set by member countries for deeming radioactive wastewater safe for release, the PIF independent experts remain concerned that adherence to current nuclear standards does not necessarily reflect adherence to ocean, environment and human health safety standards which make this Fukushima issue unique and unprecedented for the global community.

The PIF experts shared their views on the lack of TEPCO research into Fukushima water discharge on marine species more common to the Pacific Forum nations, leaving them unable to provide an informed decision to PIF members on a priority gap around the ecosystem and food security impacts.

“I have been briefed on the latest meeting by our Forum team and critical issues remain pending before we can provide an update to our leaders on the results of the ‘intensive dialogue’,” said Henry Puna, the Forum’s secretary general.

He commended the frank and intensive conversations. It is what we sought and would like to continue to ensure the commitment between Japan and the Pacific Islands Forum that no discharge will be affected unless it is safe to do so, will be honored. (PIF)

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