Tokyo, Japan – A Japanese governmental subcommittee today submitted its three-part, calamitously drafted proposal for managing more than one million tonnes of radioactive water resulting from the TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster of 2011. The subcommittee devastatingly proposed: to discharge the radioactive water directly into the environment via ocean discharge, vapour release into the lower atmosphere, or a combination of the two above methods. This proposal chosen by the subcommittee’s secretariat poses the least financial cost to Japan but the most immediate threat to the environment and highlights the government’s complete failure to consider safer alternatives, stated Greenpeace Japan.
Established by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI), the Subcommittee on Handling ALPS Treated Water (Advanced Liquid Processing System), submitted its flawed draft proposal at a meeting this afternoon in Tokyo. The members of the subcommittee in the past raised concerns over the radioactive water issue and TEPCO’s handling of the issue. In recent months, the subcommittee managed to secure confirmation from TEPCO that additional storage space for the radioactive water is in fact available. However, the government officials (who work for METI) controlling the subcommittee have pushed for today’s draft proposal under the false premise that space was running out for continued water storage.
Due to the meltdown of three reactors at Fukushima Daiichi in 2011 – including unsuccessful prevention of groundwater contamination and failure of the ALPS technology – 80 percent of the radioactive water contains more radioactive materials than regulatory limits as revealed last year. This past year, Greenpeace Germany’s analysis has shown that the Fukushima water crisis is a consequence of poor decision making, the wrong technology choices, and cost-cutting measures.
“There is no justification for additional, deliberate radioactive pollution of the marine environment or atmosphere. Any decision to discharge over one million tonnes of highly radioactive water into the Pacific or into the atmosphere is clearly a direct concern to the people of Fukushima, including fisheries.
However, this is not just a domestic issue, and the government of Japan must explain to the international community – including its nearest neighbours in Asia – why it advocates for the water discharge into the Pacific Ocean or release to the atmosphere while failing to develop alternative solutions. Today’s development only makes Greenpeace more determined to stop these radioactive discharges,” said Shaun Burnie, a nuclear specialist at Greenpeace Germany.
The drafted proposal by the subcommittee is to
be taken to local stakeholders in Fukushima Prefecture, including fishing
communities. In 2018, citizens strongly condemned the option to discharge the
radioactive water into the Pacific during public hearings. More recently,
Greenpeace Japan’s opinion poll conducted in September 2019 showed that only
15.9 percent of Fukushima citizens supported the release of radioactive water
into the ocean.
Greenpeace Japan advocates that the least environmentally damaging option is the long-term storage of the radioactive water in robust tanks combined with the application of the most advanced processing technology to remove all radionuclides, including tritium. So far, the Japanese government and TEPCO have wrongly concluded that such an option is not feasible.
“From day one of the nuclear disaster, the Government’s management of the radioactive water crisis has resulted in well-documented failure after failure. Today’s draft proposal is yet another failure, but it is not the end of this highly controversial issue. No decision can be made by the Government without local approval, and the message from the communities of Fukushima – including the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations – is that discharging the radioactive water into the Pacific is not an option,” said Kazue Suzuki, energy campaigner of Greenpeace Japan, who observed today’s subcommittee meeting.
Japan should not make decisions to cut costs at the expense of the environment, local community lands, and the wider pollution of the Pacific and other seas but instead, continue to store the radioactive water in the confirmed, additionally available space while carefully considering safer and more sustainable alternatives for Fukushima’s radioactive water to remove all radionuclides.
 The polling in Fukushima prefecture showed only 15.9% approval of discharge, compared with 43.3% who oppose. Of those who oppose discharge, nationwide 51% stated that their principal concerns were that discharging will have a negative impact, not just in Fukushima and wider Japan, but also internationally. In Fukushima, 52.9% think it will have a negative effect on Fukushima fisheries. Greenpeace commissioned Rakuten Insight, a member of the JMRA (Japan Marketing Research Association), and the ESOMAR (Europe Society Opinion and Market Research Association); poll results (in Japanese).
Shaun Burnie, Senior Nuclear Specialist, Greenpeace Germany, [email protected], +49 151-6432-0548
Mitsuhisa Kawase, Communications Officer, Greenpeace Japan, [email protected], +81 (0) 70-3195-4165
Greenpeace International Press Desk, +31 (0) 20 718 2470, [email protected] (available 24 hours)
Follow @greenpeacepress on twitter for our latest international press releases.