At the UN, Micronesia denounces Japan’s plan to dump Fukushima water in the Pacific

A worker, wearing protective suits and masks, takes notes in front of radioactive water storage tanks at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), in the city of Tokyo. Okuma, Fukushima prefecture, Japan February 10, 2016. REUTERS/ Toru Hanai

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UNITED NATIONS, Sept 22 (Reuters) – The president of the Pacific island state of Micronesia on Thursday denounced to the United Nations Japan’s decision to dump what he said was contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean. nuclear plant at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

In an address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, David Panuelo said Micronesia had the “grave concern” over Japan’s decision to discharge water from the so-called Advanced Waste Treatment System into the ocean. liquids (ALPS).

“We cannot turn a blind eye to the unimaginable threats of nuclear contamination, marine pollution and the possible destruction of the blue continent of the Pacific,” he said.

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“The impacts of this decision are both transboundary and intergenerational in nature. As Head of State of Micronesia, I cannot allow the destruction of our ocean resources that sustain our people.”

Japan said in July that its nuclear regulators had approved a plan to release water used to cool reactors following the Fukushima disaster in March 2011 into the Pacific Ocean.

The water was stored in huge tanks in the plant and amounted to more than 1.3 million tons in July.

Japan’s Foreign Ministry said at the time that regulators deemed it safe to release the water, which would still contain traces of the radioactive isotope tritium after treatment.

Asked about Panuelo’s statement, Yukiko Okano, the ministry’s deputy press secretary, said in reference to Fukushima that Japan would do its best “to get the understanding of the international community on the safety of our activities there.”

The plant operator, Tokyo Power Electric Company (Tepco), plans to filter contaminated water to remove harmful isotopes apart from tritium, which is difficult to remove. Then it will be diluted and released to free up space for the dismantling of Fukushima to continue.

The plan has met stiff resistance from regional fishermen’s unions who fear its impact on their livelihoods. Japan’s neighbors China, South Korea and Taiwan also expressed concern.

Panuelo also highlighted the threat posed by climate change, to which Pacific island states are particularly vulnerable. He called on geopolitical rivals the United States and China to see this as “a matter of non-political and non-competitive cooperation.”

“For a very short period of time, it seemed that the Americans, with whom Micronesia shares an enduring partnership, and the Chinese, with whom Micronesia shares a great friendship, were beginning to work together on this issue, despite rising tensions. in other areas,” he said. “Now they don’t talk to each other on this important issue.”

China announced in August that it was ending bilateral cooperation with the United States in areas including defence, narcotics, transnational crime and climate change in protest against a visit to Taiwan by US President Nancy Pelosi.

Panuelo’s remarks coincided with a meeting convened by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken of partners from Blue Pacific countries, including Japan, to better coordinate aid to the region in the face of competition from China. . Read more

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Reporting by David Brunnstrom; edited by Grant McCool and Stephen Coates

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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