Pacific calls for more transparency on the release of nuclear wastewater into the Pacific Ocean


By Sanjeshni Kumar

Pacific is not leaving “any stones unturned” when it comes to the safety of their ocean.

The Pacific Islands Forum Acting Secretary General, Dr Filimon Manoni has appealed for transparency from the government of Japan on their plans to discharge 1.25 million tons of nuclear wastewater into the Pacific Ocean.

Dr Manoni said they will continue to oppose the plan by the Government of Japan until sufficient data and information is provided on the safe release of the water.

“We are concerned that the level of transparency is not where we think it should be,” he said.

“According to our experts, there are very big information gaps that wouldn’t allow us to say we agree with the discharge.”

Dr Manoni said they had requested Japan to work closely with Pacific Islands Forum Independent experts, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to ensure that they get to the bottom of the issue and answer the challenges.

“Our concern is the response at the official and technical level to allow a deeper end analysis and also confidence building that we are all looking at the same data arriving at the same conclusions and agreeing to the discharge, if it is to happen.

“The idea is that Japan will work with us and ensure that there is full transparency, disclosure and exchange of data to assist in the process of verification, before a discharge.”

Dr Manoni said Pacific takes note of Japan’s undertaking that there will be no discharge until it is deemed safe to do so.

“We hold them to that standard, and we want to just express our desire to engage very closely and in a very transparent way, with TEPCO, the Japan nuclear authority, as well as the support of the IAEA in the process.”

The Acting Forum Secretary General said nuclear contamination is a real and grave threat to the Pacific as well.

“We all know how important the ocean is to all of us.

“It is the sole source of livelihood for all of us and it is in our utmost interest to protect it, not only for today’s generations, but for our grandchildren and their children.

“Intergenerationally an obligation on us to leave the ocean and the environment in a better place for the future.”

Dr Manoni said: “We will continue to work together to come to a solution to arrive at a place where we both can agree on what the outcome should be.”

The IAEA Director and Coordinator of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, Gustavo Caruso said as the eye of the international community, they will ensure the discharge will be carried out in line with the IAEA international safety standards.

“To ensure that there is no threat to the health of the public and the environment,” said Caruso.

He said the agency is “almost sure that Japan will not release the water before our comprehensive report about the situation.”

“We initially have a lot of information problems, but we will clarify what is needed.”

Meanwhile, the PIF Secretary General, Henry Puna and the incoming Chairman, the Prime Minister of Cook Islands Mark Brown are currently in Japan to reflect on this issue with the Prime Minister and the Government of Japan..