The president of the Pacific island state of Micronesia denounced Japan’s decision to discharge what he called nuclear-contaminated water from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station into the Pacific Ocean.
In an address on Thursday to the UN General Assembly in New York, David Panuelo said Micronesia had the “gravest concern” about Japan’s decision to release water from Japan’s Advanced Liquid Processing System into the ocean.
“We cannot close our eyes to the unimaginable threats of nuclear contamination, marine pollution and eventual destruction of the blue Pacific continent,” he said.
Kyodo via Reuters
“The impacts of this decision are both transboundary and intergenerational in nature. As Micronesia’s head of state, I cannot allow for the destruction of our ocean resources that support the livelihood of our people,” Panuelo said.
Japan in July said that its nuclear regulators had approved a plan to release into the Pacific ocean water used to cool reactors in the aftermath of the March 2011 Fukushima disaster.
The water has been stored in tanks at the plant, amounting to about 1.3 million tonnes.
Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said regulators deemed it safe to release the water, which still contain traces of the radioactive isotope tritium after treatment.
The plant operator, Tokyo Power Electric Co, plans to filter the contaminated water to remove harmful isotopes apart from tritium, which is difficult to remove. It would then be diluted and released to free up plant space to allow the decommissioning of Fukushima to continue.
Regional fishing unions have voiced concern, as have Taiwan, China and South Korea.
Panuelo also highlighted the threat posed by climate change, to which Pacific island states are particularly vulnerable. He called on geopolitical rivals the US and China to consider it “a non-political and non-competitive issue for cooperation.”
“For the briefest period of time, it seemed as if the Americans, with whom Micronesia shares an enduring partnership, and the Chinese, with whom Micronesia shares a great friendship, were starting to work together on this issue, despite increases in tension in other areas,” he said. “Now, they are no longer speaking to each other on this important issue.”
China in August said it was halting bilateral cooperation with the US in areas including defense, narcotics, transnational crime and climate change to protest a visit to Taiwan by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Panuelo’s remarks coincided with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s speech at the Partners in the Blue Pacific meeting in New York, which also includes Japan, which aims to enhance cooperation in the region in the face of competition from China.
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