【Press Release】Friends of the Earth (HK) responds to the controversy surrounding Japan's discharge of nuclear wastewater into the sea
Japan Unilaterally Discharges Nuclear Wastewater
Disregarding Threats to Ecology and Human Health
(Hong Kong, 13 June 2023) Tokyo Electric Power Company recently began sending seawater into the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant's wastewater discharge tunnel, preparing to discharge diluted radioactive wastewater into the ocean. The move has raised significant concerns among the international community, and Japanese citizens have also protested. Friends of the Earth (HK) strongly opposes the practice of discharging nuclear wastewater into the ocean, and is worried about the serious impact it may have on marine ecology and human health.
Japan claims that the "Advanced Liquid Processing System" (ALPS) can remove radioactive substances except tritium to levels that comply with environmental discharge regulations. Last month, Tokyo Electric Power Company caught a sea fish called "black rockfish" in Fukushima offshore, which contain 180 times the maximum limit of the radioactive element caesium allowed under Japan's food safety laws. In fact, Japan cannot guarantee that the technology for treating nuclear wastewater is fully mature, so the discharged nuclear wastewater may still contain radioactive elements other than tritium, which cannot be ignored.
Even if ALPS can really filter out all radioactive substances except for tritium, the scale of this discharge is huge and will last for up to 30 years, with unprecedented complexity in the total amount and composition of the nuclear wastewater. It is worth noting that there is still a lack of scientific research to prove the long-term impact of tritium discharge on marine ecology. If the discharged nuclear wastewater still contains multiple radioactive elements, it will have a serious impact on marine life. These radioactive elements will be transferred along the food chain to higher-level organisms, ultimately affecting the ecological environment and human health.
In accordance with the "United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea”, the Japanese government has an obligation to take all measures necessary to ensure that activities under their jurisdiction or control are so conducted as not to cause damage by pollution to other States and their environment, and that pollution arising from incidents or activities under their jurisdiction or control does not spread beyond the areas where they exercise sovereign rights. The actions of the Japanese government seriously violate its international legal obligations and may cause irreparable harm to the marine environment and public health.
The discharge of nuclear wastewater is influenced by ocean currents and may pollute the water quality of neighbouring countries and cities. If the long-term discharge of nuclear wastewater accumulates in one place due to ocean currents, it will form an area with high levels of radioactive substances, causing incalculable harm to marine life and ecosystems, and further endangering human health through the food chain.
Friends of the Earth (HK) urges the Japanese government to fulfill its international obligations, disclose more detailed information to address the international community's concerns about safety, fully consult with neighbouring countries, and accept strict international supervision in order to seek a nuclear wastewater treatment plan with minimal environmental impact. At the same time, we urge the Japanese authorities to disclose all data and information in a scientific, transparent, and open manner, conduct in-depth scientific assessments, and invite international experts, especially stakeholders from neighboring countries, to engage in full communication and discussion, in order to jointly develop a convincing final treatment plan.
As for Hong Kong's response plan, Friends of the Earth (HK) urges the Environment and Ecology Bureau to lead relevant government departments, including the Hong Kong Observatory, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, to enhance the nuclear accident notification mechanism, strengthen monitoring of marine ecological pollution, and strictly enforce food safety regulatory measures. The Consumer Council should also conduct risk assessments on the potential health impact of consuming food from areas near Fukushima, and provide timely, accurate, and comprehensive information to safeguard public health.