In 2011 the Fukushima Nuclear Plant in Japan was hit by a 15-metre tsunami following a major earthquake. The resulting damage disabled the power supply and cooling of three Fukushima reactors, causing a nuclear accident.
Since then the Japanese government has worked intensively with a number of international bodies to reduce contamination, improve radiation monitoring and waste management and facilitate the safe return of all those who were dispossessed from their homes following the accident.
So concerned has Japan been to prevent risk that at one point the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency even criticised the Japanese authorities for what it saw as their overly cautious approach to resettlement of the Fukushima residents.
However, plans announced by the Japanese government that it intends to release one million cubic tonnes of water from Fukushima have been greeted with horror and outrage by environmental NGO’s such as Greenpeace and Tilt.
Tilt is an organisation founded by the European Green Party that prides itself on its “unique access” to policy experts and members of the European Parliament.
In fact, the European Green’s (of which the Irish Greens are a member) operating through Tilt have now launched a campaign calling on the European Commission and National Leaders of EU Member States to oppose what it says is Japan’s plan to “allow a company to dump 1 million cubic meters of radioactive water from the plant into the Pacific Ocean in 2022.”
There is one big problem with that statement-it is not true.
The Japanese government is indeed intending to release the water, but it is not, and has never said it was, going to release it all next year.
In fact, according to a preliminary estimate, the “gradual releases of water will take about 30 years,” with other sources, such as Professor of Engineering, Brent Heuser, of the University of Illinois putting the timescale at 40 years.
And this will happen in regulated bursts after the water has been specifically treated to ensure that only residual levels of harmful elements like Tritium remain.
As Prof Heuer puts it: “Tritium is not dangerous in small amounts … it’s gonna be very dilute, it is simply not a concern, the environmental impact is zero.”
Also weighting in against Tilts characterisation of Japan’s plan is Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi.
In a recent statement Mr Grossi welcomed Japan’s announcement that it has decided how to dispose of treated water stored at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Station.
He then said this:
“Japan’s chosen water disposal method is both technically feasible and in line with international practice….The IAEA’s safety reviews, and other technical support, are based on its safety standards, which constitute the worldwide reference for protecting the public and the environment from harmful effects of ionizing radiation.”
That is not the impression you would get from reading the statement issued by Tilt (the Green’s) is it?
In addition to this, it is seriously misleading is the way Tilt, as the Green’s proxy, describe the decision as one which will “allow a company to dump” the water.
This anti-capitalist trope completely omits the fact that the decision to release the treated water has in fact been endorsed as “the most realistic method by a government panel that for nearly seven years had discussed how to dispose of the water without further harming Fukushima’s image, fisheries and other businesses. The report it prepared last year mentioned evaporation as a less desirable option.”
Even the ultra-green Biden administration has “been more understanding in its comments, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken praising Japan for “transparent efforts” in its decision.”
What is also clearly transparent at this point is that this is just the latest scaremongering campaign by the EU Greens as they seek to use the tragedy of the Fukushima accident and worse, its safe decommissioning, to directly promote and maintain a government focus on renewables rather than the potential use of nuclear power.