Palau’s decision to support Japan’s plan to release treated nuclear wastewater into Pacific is described “unconscionable”

Last week, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), United Nation’s nuclear agency, gave Japan the green light to release treated radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific, saying that “a negligible radiological impact on people and the environment.”

Japan continues to face resistance and protest from around the region against the planned release.

Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr. is the only Pacific leader that has come out clearly to support Japan’s government decision to release the radioactive wastewater into the Pacific, a decision he made after he visited Japan in June, where he toured the damaged Fukushima plant.

“As a responsible leader, we should make it a point to come and see for ourselves before we make a decision,” said Whipps of his visit to the Daichii Nuclear Power plant.  He said he was convinced after his visit that Japan takes extraordinary measures to protect their people and that they are not releasing anything into the ocean that would be of harm to Japan’s people.

He said he supports Japan’s position because it is a science-based decision, which is how Palau approaches its environmental policies.

But not everyone in Palau supports Japan’s decision or agrees with President Whipps’s position.  In a letter to this editor, a local writer expressed objection to President Whipps’s decision without consulting with the people.

“On the Japan dumping of Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Wastewater into the Ocean, the international declaration approving such action without at least consulting first with our traditional and other political leaders was unconscionable.”

Moreover, he said the issue was still subject to disagreement in the scientific community. “If the Japanese scientists are wrong, the damage done to our ocean which is borderless cannot be reversed for hundreds of years.”

Pacific Island Forum, of which Palau is a member, continues to oppose the release calling it “an issue of significant transboundary and transgenerational impact.”

Whipps defends Japan, saying it has applied rigorous science to clean the contaminated water and that while the nuclear plants are down, Japan uses coal to fill in the energy gap and that coal is the main contributor to climate change.

“Use of coal is causing our islands to disappear and the main cause of climate change, which is the major problem we are facing now,” said Whipps.

He added that deep-sea mining damages the marine environment more, and it has not been vetted by science as environmentally safe.  This, Whipps says, is hypocritical when ALPS-treated nuclear wastewater has been “proven” to be safe.

“Of course, our President is a smart and educated man, but I think on this problem, if he was wrong, hopefully he is proven right in the future. But if he were to be proven wrong, he would have committed an unpardonable sin against the future generations,” said the author of the letter to this editor.

This story was originally published at Island Times on 07 July 2023, reposted via PACNEWS.

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