A total of 7,800 tons of nuclear-contaminated water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant has been released into the sea as Japan completed its first round of wastewater discharge on Sept 11. As it is preparing to start the second round of release in late September, the justified concerns over the long-term ecological impacts of the discharged water have not been eased, and criticism of the country's selfish and irresponsible move continues to be voiced.
What Japan has done, and will be doing for at least 30 years to come, is tantamount to spreading its risks of nuclear contamination to the rest of the world. The unprecedented release of the radioactive wastewater from the stricken nuclear power plant into the sea actually constitutes a major nuclear safety issue, as Liu Jing, vice-chairman of the China Atomic Energy Authority, said during a debate at the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency that opened on Monday. "There is great uncertainty about the accumulated oceanic effects of the large amount of radionuclides discharged into the sea," he said.
Yet Japan has so far failed to give a credible and scientific response to dispel the worries of the international community about the effects of the discharge of the toxic water on the marine environment. Instead, it is heedlessly rushing ahead with its reckless move despite strong opposition from people around the world who recognize the potential dangers to marine life and human health. Such an act that benefits Japan at the expense of the rest of the world is mean and selfish, and should be condemned.
Japan insists the nuclear-contaminated water has been treated before being discharged into the ocean and it meets international standards. But that justification does not hold water given that the assessment conducted by the IAEA has evident limitations and faces allegations of bias. Moreover, the IAEA has failed to prove that the ocean discharge plan is the only and optimal option for treating the nuclear-contaminated wastewater.
Thus many countries have joined China in denouncing Japan's discharge plan. Addressing the United Nations General Assembly last week, Solomon Islands' Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said he was "appalled" at the move, whose effect "is transboundary and intergenerational, and is an attack on global trust and solidarity". Maybe those who believe that Japan's contaminated wastewater disposal plan is safe and secure should lend an ear to Sogavare's remark that, "If this nuclear wastewater is safe, it should be stored in Japan."
Japan's eagerness to dump it into the ocean only serves to show the water is not safe. Japan is morally and ethically obligated to explore other options for addressing the issue of the nuclear-contaminated wastewater.
It should respect the concerns of the international community and immediately stop discharging it into the ocean. If it continues to discharge the wastewater into the sea, it will be judged by history for any harm inflicted upon nature and humanity.