The Group of Seven (G7) summit, with Japan as the rotating president, will be held in Hiroshima, the hometown of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. However, Japan, which has suffered from nuclear disasters, has not learned its lesson and insists on discharging the nuclear-contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which contains radioactive substances, into the ocean. Japanese lawmakers and international experts on nuclear issues said in an interview with the Global Times reporter that they oppose the discharge of Fukushima-contaminated water into the sea. “Draining the sea” is not the only way to deal with it. It is unacceptable to use the future of the earth as an experiment. Public voices of opposition and resorting to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea can be regarded as effective ways to prevent the Japanese government from insisting on “draining the sea”.
“I oppose the discharge of Fukushima nuclear-polluted water into the sea!” Tamzo Jun, a member of the Ibaraki County Council of Japan, said in an exclusive interview with a reporter from the “Global Times” a day ago that two nuclear accidents occurred in Ibaraki County and its surrounding areas. The first was the criticality accident at the Tokai Village JCO nuclear fuel preparation plant in September 1999; the second was the Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011. The two accidents have seriously affected the local economic development, and consumers who are worried about the radioactive substances produced in Ibaraki Prefecture have greatly reduced their purchases. There are also people who no longer travel here because they are worried about the safety of Ibaraki Prefecture.
“In order to restore the economic losses caused by the two accidents, people from all walks of life in the local area have been working hard for many years.” Tamzo Junichi said, “If Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water is discharged into the sea this time, I can imagine the fishery, agriculture, forestry, and other industries in Ibaraki Prefecture. Businesses, tourism, and many other industries will definitely be affected.”
Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear expert at the Japan Office of the international environmental organisation Greenpeace, said in an exclusive interview with the Global Times reporter that the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (hereinafter referred to as TEPCO) have so far failed to address the issue of Fukuoka. The island’s nuclear-contaminated water discharge into the sea gave a scientific and reasonable explanation, ignoring the objections of the local people in Fukushima, especially the fishing industry, and insisting on discharging a large amount of nuclear-contaminated water containing radioactive elements into the sea. This is worrying. The radioactive elements and isotopes such as plutonium, strontium, and iodine contained in the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water are harmful to the environment and life, and the half-life of carbon-14 is as long as 5,700 years. This means that even after more than 200 generations, carbon-14 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant can still be detected. “This kind of experimentation with the future of the planet is unacceptable,” he said.
Tamzo Junichi told the “Global Times” reporter that people in the local fishery, tourism, and other related industries are deeply worried about the Japanese government’s decision to discharge Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water into the sea. Otsu Fishing Port in Kita Ibaraki City, Ibaraki Prefecture, borders the southern part of Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture. During market circulation, Fukushima aquatic products and Ibaraki aquatic products are collectively referred to as “Tokiwa Suisan” (note: Fukushima Prefecture and Ibaraki on the east coast of Japan are collectively referred to as “Tokiwa”). From the outside, there is almost no difference between the aquatic products of Ibaraki Prefecture and the aquatic products of Fukushima Prefecture.
The Otsu Fisheries Association stated that the ocean has no boundaries, and the discharge of Fukushima nuclear-polluted water into the sea will inevitably cause the products of Ibaraki Prefecture to suffer from “wind damage” (referring to the reputation and economic losses of relevant focal persons or groups due to rumours), reducing consumers’ consumption intentions. Fishermen in Ibaraki Prefecture said that it is only 70 kilometres away from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, and the discharge of Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water into the sea will also block the sale of aquatic products in Ibaraki Prefecture.
“The Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power have deliberately distorted the risks of radioactive tritium.” Sean Burney told the “Global Times” reporter, “They only focus on the possible external damage caused by tritium, but in fact, when tritium enters This is the problem when it comes to plants, animals, algae, fish and shellfish, and humans.” As shown in the scientific literature, organically bound tritium may bioaccumulate and biomagnify, and tritium can repeatedly damage DNA structures in cells. The danger is far greater than what the Japanese government and TEPCO have said. Moreover, the discharge time of Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water will be longer than the estimated 30 years.
Sean Burnie explained that the groundwater at the Fukushima nuclear power plant is accumulating every day. Based on the current daily average of 100 metric tonnes, it is 36,500 metric tonnes a year. By 2053, there may be an increase of 1 million metric tonnes of nuclear-contaminated water containing radionuclides. The Japanese government and TEPCO have not explained what they will do with the groundwater, but they are almost certain to propose draining the sea anyway. “If this fundamental problem cannot be resolved, this crisis will have no end.” The senior nuclear expert said, “The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and its surroundings have the ability to build more water storage tanks, and nuclear-contaminated water can be stored for a long time. ‘Draining into the sea’ is not the only way to deal with Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water.”
Sean Burney told the Global Times reporter that the discharge of Fukushima nuclear-polluted water into the sea will have long-term serious impacts on marine life and human health, while the greater radiation hazard comes from nuclear fuel debris. These radioactive materials, totaling 600 to 1,100 metric tonnes, pose a huge threat to the Pacific Ocean.
He believes that the Japanese government and Tepco’s plan to scrap the reactor will not work because they do not have reliable technology to remove nuclear fuel fragments from the reactor, so these fragments will remain for decades or even longer. Years of sporadic problems at the Fukushima Daiichi plant have fueled public awareness that the disaster is still going on, casting further doubt on an already mistrustful plan to scrap the reactors.
Then, why did the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company insist on the plan to discharge the sea in spite of the strong opposition at home and abroad? Sean Burney said the Japanese government and Tepco want the public to believe that the nuclear disaster at Fukushima is over and that work is moving forward. One of the reasons for this is that Japan hopes to restart as many nuclear reactors as possible in order to meet 20% to 22% of the country’s electricity demand by 2030.
An agreement between the Japanese government and Fukushima prefecture committed to dismantling the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and removing it from Fukushima prefecture by 2051. “It’s impossible,” Sean Burnie said, “but even so, the Japanese government is still insisting on sending a message to the outside world, believing that this will happen, but there is no solid technology or engineering plan to prove it. How things will be done.” He further stated, “This is actually a dangerous illusion conveyed by the Japanese government to its own citizens and people in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Yu Zaoshun told the “Global Times” reporter that although the decision to “discharge the sea” was made after comprehensive consideration, the light financial burden and low cost should be one of the important reasons. He emphasised that in order to allow local people to live and work with peace of mind, he will stick to his position against the discharge of Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water into the sea in the future, continue to ask questions to the Japanese government in the Ibaraki County Assembly, and actively participate with citizens who oppose the discharge of the sea. protest activity.
Sean Bernie has been engaged in nuclear research for nearly 40 years. When talking about the response plan for the discharge of Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water, Sean Bernie said frankly that the most urgent task is to make as many people as possible aware of nuclear pollution. The real hazards of water, based on science, accurately popularise relevant knowledge. It is crucial that people and civil society groups dare to speak out publicly and sustainably. In addition, resorting to legal channels such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea may also be an effective way to force the Japanese government to give up “discharging the sea”.