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Forum Chair calls on the region to be wary of nuclear wastewater discharge

Cook Islands Prime Minister and Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, Mark Brown has cautioned the region to be wary and ensure the “highest level of due diligence” and “ongoing monitoring of Japan’s dumping of nuclear waster water in the ocean.”

“As custodians of our Blue Pacific Continent, and in recognition of the transboundary and transgenerational nature of this issue, it is incumbent on all of us to ensure the highest level of due diligence and ongoing monitoring of the planned discharge,” Brown said. 

His statement comes on the eve of Japan’s intention to start discharging nuclear wastewater from the Fukushima Nuclear plant.

“Given our Blue Pacific region’s ongoing nuclear testing legacy, and our collective commitment to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone (SPNFZ) – also known as the Treaty of Rarotonga – the Forum will always exercise the highest levels of caution on all nuclear related issues,” the statement said.

The Japanese Government’s decision to first discharge treated water follows 28 months of consultations at political and scientific levels. It aims to gradually release 1.4 million tonnes of treated nuclear wastewater from the Fukushima power plant over the next three to four decades.

“We note the International Atomic Energy Agency’s recommendations that the plans by Japan are consistent with international nuclear safeguards and that impacts on the environment and human health are negligible. At the same time, we appreciate the advice rendered by the independent PIF panel of scientific experts. It is not lost on me that there remains diverging views and responses in the international community, and within our Blue Pacific region.

“As Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, I am committed to maintaining ongoing dialogue with the Government of Japan and the IAEA on this matter,” Brown said.

The issue, he said, be a matter of priority in the next Forum Leaders and Foreign Forum meetings.

Not all Forum Leaders have supported Japan’s action while Fijian Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka has supported Japan’s action, deeming the IAEA report to have sufficiently dispelled any fears of any untoward degradation of the ocean environment that would adversely affect lives and ecosystems in our precious Blue Pacific.

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