Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape has reaffirmed the capacity of Japan in upholding international standards while it rehabilitates radioactive wastewater from its destroyed Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

PM Marape said both the former and current Prime Minister of Japan (Yoshihide Suga and Fumio Kishida) had given their assurance that they are doing everything to maximise the safety of the wastewater and would not allow its release until safety has been confirmed based on scientific evidence.

“Japan has been working on the handling of ALPS-treated water with its safety as the top priority. I have been advised by both leaders that the release of the water is being conducted in accordance with all standards – both domestic and international – to comply with the highest safety regulations for human health and the health of the environment.

“Both leaders have assured me that Japan would never allow the discharge of the water until and unless safety has been confirmed by scientific evidence. Japan’s work to treat the wastewater has been continuing over the last 10-or-so years since the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in March 2011. It is best that the treated water is released in a controlled manner than if the radioactive wastewater is left to accidental leakage or other such unplanned exercise.

“I am also pleased to note that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been working with the Government of Japan to rigorously review the safety of the wastewater for release.

“For us in the Pacific, our position is the same as it always has been – a Free Nuclear-Waste Pacific.

“Papua New Guinea is of the view that Japan – with its high compliance to international standards and regulations – is meeting the requirements in managing nuclear waste, and is at the point where, if it is confident it can safely release the treated water back into the natural environment, it should be allowed to do so,” said PM Marape.

But environmental groups have argued that the move sets a bad precedence and poses serious danger to Pacific communities who depend on the ocean for their livelihoods.

The head of the Papua New Guinean NGO, the Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR), Peter Bosip said Marape’s statement goes against the principles of environmental protection.

“We have enough man-made disasters,” Bosip said.

“PNG should not support Japan’s decision to release radioactive wastewater into the Pacific Ocean. It will be a disaster for PNG and Pacific people,” he said.

Marape’s statement contradicts an earlier call by PNG’s environment minister Jelta Wong urging Japan not to go ahead with its plans.

In March, Wong called for Pacific Islands Forum leaders to sing a joint petition to stop the dumping of nuclear wastewater into our ocean.