The Guardian • Issue #2069

Stop releasing contaminated water into the sea

Underground water storage pools at Fukushima.

Underground water storage pools. Photo: Greg Webb – International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – flickr.com (CC BY-SA 2.0).

SHII Kazuo
Chair of the Executive Committee of the Japanese Communist Party (JCP)

Press conference, August 2023 Tokyo

(1) The Kishida government has decided to begin releasing contaminated water from TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the ocean as early as 24th August. This is a complete breach of the government’s promise to the people of Fukushima Prefecture and the people of Japan to “not take any action without the understanding of all parties concerned including fishers,” and is absolutely unacceptable. The JCP strongly demands the retraction of the government’s policy of releasing contaminated water into the sea.

Sakamoto Masanobu, Chair of the Japan Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations (“Zengyoren”), who met with the Prime Minister on 21st August, stated, “We remain firm in our position that we are still opposed to the discharge of ALPS (Advanced Liquid Processing System)-treated water into the sea.” Prime Minister Kishida Fumio visited Fukushima on 20th August, but did not meet with Fukushima’s fishery officials or local government heads. Prime Minister Kishida’s political stance of not listening to the opinions of local residents and not keeping his public promises shakes the very foundation of democracy.

(2) Even if the water contaminated by contact with debris from the melted-down nuclear fuel is treated with the ALPS, the radioactive material tritium cannot be removed. Furthermore, the government admits that the water also contains radioactive substances other than tritium, such as caesium and strontium, even “below regulatory standards.” Thus, it is natural that the government cannot obtain the consent of the parties concerned.

(3) If contaminated water is released into the ocean, it will inevitably affect not only the fishing industry but also the processing, transport, and wholesale distribution of seafood as well as the tourism sector in various ways, it will be a serious obstacle to the reconstruction and revitalisation of the Fukushima region. It is unacceptable for TEPCO and the government, which are responsible for the nuclear power plant accident, to set aside their responsibility and impose on the victims the sacrifice of creating a major obstacle to the reconstruction of Fukushima.

(4) Unless the inflow of groundwater into the structures of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is stopped, radioactive contaminated water will continue to be generated. What is alarming is that the government has not taken effective steps to stop the increase in contaminated water despite the fact that countermeasures such as the ‘land-side impermeable wall (frozen soil wall)’ method have not been fully effective. The government should seriously take steps to stop the increase in contaminated water, such as installation of a ‘wide-area impermeable wall.’

Experts have proposed measures to avoid the releasing of radioactive wastewater into the ocean, such as the ‘large tank storage’ method and “mortar solidification disposal’ method. The government should seriously consider alternative methods of storage and take measures in order to properly address this issue.

Japan Press Weekly

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