“We must prevent actions that will lead or mislead us towards another major nuclear contamination disaster at the hands of others,” said Henry Puna at a public seminar last month. He’s the former prime minister of the Cook Islands and current secretary-general of the Pacific Islands Forum—a regional bloc of 17 island nations.In objecting to the release, Motarilavoa Hilda Lini, a Vanuatu stateswoman, has cited the slogan of the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific movement: “If it is safe, dump it in Tokyo, test it in Paris, and store it in Washington, but keep our Pacific nuclear-free.”
“If it is safe, dump it in Tokyo, test it in Paris, and store it in Washington, but keep our Pacific nuclear-free.”
Despite these measures, critics say that TEPCO has had a spotty record when it comes to communicating with the public. In 2018, Kyodo News reported that the treated water still contained radioactive substances above the legal limit after it had gone through ALPS. And it wasn’t until 2020 that the power company first acknowledged that the water contained carbon-14, which can’t be removed using ALPS. “I saw this as an opportunity for Japan to build up trust, to take care of their waste, clean it up and demonstrate independently to the world that they’ve done that,” Buesseler said. “It’s a lot of trust, is what it really boils down to. And we’re saying, show us.”Brent Heuser, a nuclear engineering professor at the University of Illinois in the U.S., told VICE World News he’s confident that, even if the tanks storing wastewater in Fukushima have higher levels of radioactive substances than is reported, dilution of the liquid is enough to ensure their safety. He noted that the company will discharge the water gradually over 30 years to sufficiently thin out the wastewater.
“It’s a lot of trust, is what it really boils down to. And we’re saying, show us.”