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Pacific islands urge Japan to delay release of Fukushima waste

Pacific island nations have urged Japan to delay the release of water from the destroyed
Fukushima nuclear power plant over fears fisheries will be
contaminated, the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) said.

“Our region is steadfast that there be no discharge until all parties verify it is safe,” PIF Secretary General Henry Puna said on Wednesday at a livestreamed public meeting in Suva, Fiji.

“We must prevent action that will lead or mislead us towards another major nuclear contamination disaster at the hands of others,” he added, saying Pacific islanders continued to endure the long-term impacts of the nuclear testing legacy on a daily basis.

The Japanese government said last week that water from the
destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant could be released into
the sea “around this spring or summer,” raising concerns from
island nations still grappling with the legacy of nuclear
testing decades ago.

Japan had approved the future release of more than 1 million
tonnes of water from the site into the ocean after treatment in
April 2021.

The PIF, a regional bloc of 17 island nations, argues
the release of the water could have a major impact on fishing
grounds that island economies rely on, and where up to half of
the world’s tuna is sourced.

READ MORE: Micronesia slams Japan’s plan to release Fukushima water into Pacific

Japan to reconsider waste release 

The United States conducted nuclear testing in the Pacific
islands in the 1940s and 1950s and the Marshall Islands
continues to campaign for more compensation from Washington over
lasting health and environmental effects.

France conducted atomic testing between 1966 and 1996 at
Mururoa Atoll in French Pacific territories.

Ken Buesseler, a scientist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic
Institute, told the forum on Wednesday that a PIF scientific
expert panel was urging Japan to reconsider the waste release
because it was not supported by data and more information was

Radioactivity moves across the ocean with currents and tides
and risks contaminating fish, he said.

Japan’s Foreign Ministry has previously said that regulators deemed it safe to release the water, which would be filtered to remove most isotopes but would still contain traces of tritium, an isotope of hydrogen hard to separate from water.

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