The head of Samoa’s premier environmental organisation has called for “science-based judgement” of Japan’s plans to discharge treated wastewater from a nuclear plant into the Pacific.

International media reports suggest the Japan Government plans to discharge treated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean next month with the United Nations’ International Atomic Agency (IAEA) recently giving its approval.

Samoa Conservation Society (SCS) President James Atherton, when approached for comment by the Samoa Observer, said that it is important to look carefully at advice from independent scientists on the impact of the proposed wastewater discharge and consider alternatives to releasing the wastewater before the public starts to react.

“Given how emotive this issue is and the very strong feelings it generates, we have to be careful to judge it based on the science, not on emotion,” Mr. Atherton said. “Also, as the Japanese have pointed out themselves, the proposed radioactive discharge is no worse than what other countries have been doing for years.

“Therefore, if we choose to condemn Japan for this plan, then we should also condemn all the other nuclear powers and countries using nuclear energy for doing the same or even worse, but perhaps not publicising it.

“After all, this issue of the role of nuclear power in a world rapidly trying to decarbonise, and in particular how to dispose of nuclear waste safely, is far bigger than the current Japanese plan and we need to consider it in that light.”

The Al Jazeera television network last week reported that the Japanese government could start releasing the treated radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station into the Pacific Ocean next month after the IAEA gave the green light.

But controversy continues to rage over the decision by Tokyo with Japan’s neighbouring countries such as China expressing concern. The China Atomic Energy Authority recently said that over 70 per cent of the nuclear-contaminated water at the Fukushima nuclear plant “failed to meet discharge limits after going through a filtration system and requires further treatment”.

The Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General, Henry Puna has in recent months reminded Forum member states of the responsibility to keep the Pacific nuclear-free, while emphasising that Japan’s Prime Minister has assured him and Pacific leaders of no discharge being made until it is safe to do so.