Commitments to further engage in “intensive dialogue” and information sharing on the proposed Fukushima ALPS treated nuclear wastewater discharge into the Pacific are the leading outcomes of the Forum’s high level visit to Japan.
The high-level delegation led by incoming Forum Chair Mark Brown has concluded, while a technical mission travelled to Fukushima late Thursday to visit the TEPCO facility.
The technical mission comprises three of the five global experts on nuclear issues who are supporting Pacific nations in their consultations with Japan over this issue. The independent panel of experts are Dr Ken Buesseler, Senior Scientist and Oceanographer of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Dr Arjun Makhijani, President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research; Dr Antony Hooker, Associate Professor and Director, Centre for Radiation Research, Education and Innovation, The University of Adelaide; Dr Ferenc (Jacob Rolf) Dalnoki-Veress, Scientist-in-Residence & Adjunct Professor at the James Martin Centre for Non-proliferation Studies, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey; and Dr Robert H. Richmond, Research Professor and Director at the Kewalo Marine Laboratory in the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Dr Antony Hooker and Dr Robert Richmond will be travelling to Fukushima following consultations with the high-level delegation and a technical meeting with TEPCO, METI, MOFA and the Japan Nuclear Regulation Authority.
The experts are providing independent technical advice to the Pacific Islands Forum members since 2022 as part of their ongoing dialogue with Japan officials and representatives of the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima where the wastewater has accumulated since the 2011 tsunami.
At the 9th PALM Meeting held 2 July 2021, Forum Leaders highlighted the priority of ‘ensuring international consultation, international law, and independent and verifiable scientific assessments with regards to Japan’s announcement’. Members have also committed to pursue independent guidance to interpret the scientific evidence as it becomes available.
The incoming Forum Chair, Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown thanked the experts for their support to the members and the professionalism of their commentary.
He intends to relay the details of his high-level meetings with the Prime Minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Shunsuke Takei, and the Minister for Economy, Trade, and Industry, Yasuyoshi Nishimura, in a full report to the upcoming Special Leaders Retreat in Fiji later this month.
At the ministerial meetings, Prime Minister Brown reiterated the position of Forum members on provision of science and data to the experts so that Pacific nations can make up their minds on the safety of the planned discharge.
He thanked the Republic of the Marshall Islands Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kitlang Kabua for her contribution and support to the process and meeting, as well as the Forum Secretary General, Henry Puna for ensuring the mandate of the Forum Leaders and the Palm9 continue to inform ongoing engagement and consultation with Japan as a friend of the Forum family, and dialogue partner.