ASIA/JAPAN - Contaminated water in the ocean, can we say that there is no danger?

Wednesday, 12 July 2023 environment   ecology   natural catastrophe  


Tokyo (Agenzia Fides) - By releasing contaminated radioactive water into the ocean, can we say that there is no danger for human beings and the ecosystem? It is by asking this simple question that Japanese and Korean scholars, scientists, civil society organizations, cultural and religious organizations are challenging the recent IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) report, by promoting a forum entitled “Japan Joint Action to Stop the Dumping of Radioactive Water at Sea”. The issue relates to contaminated water storage tanks installed at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which was hit by the notorious earthquake and tidal wave in 2011. A recent IAEA report gave the "green light" to the discharge of contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, stating that "the Fukushima contaminated water discharge plan meets international safety standards".
Civil society groups, scientific associations, scientific groups and academics have expressed serious concern, challenging the findings of the IAEA's final report, noting: "It is unscientific to claim that there is no risk". The Catholic bishops in Japan have also expressed their concerns. Msgr. Isao Kikuchi, President of the Bishops' Conference of Japan and Archbishop of Tokyo said: "We cannot endorse the government's decision as long as concerns and expert opinions remain that the discharge of these waters could damage the health of mankind and the environment. We will continue to urge the government to abandon the policy of discharging contaminated water in order to protect life". In South Korea, which is actively participating in the process of rapprochement with the Korean coasts, several scientific institutions have expressed serious perplexities. Among others, Choi Moo-young, professor emeritus of the Department of Physics at Seoul National University, explained during a lecture held in recent days at the "Franciscan Education Center of Jeong-dong" in Seoul that "science often does not give only one correct answer". If the percentage of risk is uncertain, judgment should be suspended and, according to the precautionary principle, the potential risk should be considered." Professor Choi continued: "There is no objective verification of the structure of the contaminated water in Fukushima. The exact type and number of nuclides in the contaminated water are unknown and there will be at least several hundreds".
Similarly, Lee Jeong-yoon, administrator of "Nuclear Safety and Future", said, "As a designer of nuclear power plants, I see several problems and shortcomings in the IAEA's final report." Baek Do-myeong, professor emeritus at Seoul National University's Graduate School of Public Health, calls the IAEA's final report "a very limited report that does not assess whether the discharge of contaminated water into the ocean is justified". "The objective was to assess whether the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) procedures for dumping contaminated water into the sea over the next few decades meet international safety standards, but not to assess the feasibility of other solutions," he explains. In recent days, the Korean Catholic Church has also issued a statement warning of the serious damage that the process could cause, in the long term, to the global environment, "the common home of humanity" (See Fides, 4/7/2023). Despite the reservations of the international community, the Japanese government is accelerating procedures for the discharge of contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The Japanese Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued TEPCO, the plant operator, a certificate of approval for the water discharge facility. Procedurally, all preparations have been completed and all that remains is Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's final decision on the timing of the release. According to forecasts, the release should start in August, after the Korea-Japan summit. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 12/7/2023)