Appeal for Australian Government's Actions on Japan's Dumping Nuclear Wastewater into Sea

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On 13 April,the Japanese government formally announced a cabinet decision that it would dump more than 1.25 million tonnes of radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea. The plan will be implemented in two years.

On 15 April,three independent UN human rights experts expressed deep regret on over Japan's decision to discharge potentially still radioactive Fukushima nuclear plant water into the ocean,warning that it could impact millions across the Pacific region. According to Greenpeace Japan,this decision completely disregards the human rights and interests of the people in Fukushima,wider Japan and the Asia-Pacific region,which is wholly unjustified. South Korea, China and Philippine also strongly opposes Japan's decision, saying Japanese government's decision is irresponsible.

The Japanese government insists that the wastewater is treated. However,it still has radioactive elements. Although most of the radioactive elements can be filtered out by a system known as the ALPS (Advanced Liquid Processing System),tritium,a mildly radioactive form of hydrogen,cannot be removed.

Nigel Marks,an associate professor of physics and astronomy at Curtin University in Perth,said: "It takes around 60-100 years to completely convert into harmless helium. In the spectrum of radioactive elements,tritium is at the mild end." Greenpeace suggested carbon-14,a radioactive isotope of carbon,might also remain in the water.

In addition to tritium and carbon-14,more dangerous isotopes with longer radioactive lifetimes,such as ruthenium,cobalt,strontium,and plutonium,sometimes slip through the ALPS process,something TEPCO only acknowledged in 2018. The company now says these additional nuclides are present in 71% of the tanks. "These radioactive isotopes behave differently than tritium in the ocean and are more readily incorporated into marine biota or seafloor sediments," says Ken Buesseler,a marine chemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

According to a previous study by Germany's Geomar Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research ,once being dumped into the sea,the Fukushima contaminated nuclear waste water will pollute half of the Pacific Ocean in 57 days,and in three years,Canada and the US will be affected by the nuclear radiation pollution. Since all the oceans are interconnected,Australia will inevitably be impacted in the long term.

As one of the communities who completely depend on ocean and seafood,we highly concern about this. We badly need to know the impact of the contaminated water on our fisheries and livelihood,as well as on Australian territorial waters and the future of Australians. We want to know:

(1) Is dumping into sea the only choice for Japanese government?

(2) Does Japan have the right to do so?

(3) Will the nuclear polluted water sharply decease the fish stock?

(4) Will nuclear radiation or pollution change the DNA of marine life and ultimately damage human DNA?

(5) Will it bring irreparable damage to the ocean ecosystem and lead to an ecological collapse?

We're so worried,but unfortunately we haven't heard any official statement from the Government like it doesn't care about the fishery industry's livelihood,Australians' well-being and the health of ocean ecosystem; and we see little discussion on media like people don't even know about this. Our Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet,Department of Foreign Affair and Trade,Department of Home Affairs,Department of Agriculture,Water and the Environment,Department of Industry,Science,Energy and Resources and Department of Health are blind to this. Most of our media outlets didn't pay attention to this. And pro-environment groups keep a low profile. That's odd and shocking.

We citizens have the right to know to all information in the possession of the government. There can be no holding back of information,especially in regard to issues of vital interests. Meanwhile,it's the government's responsibility to protect its citizens and territory,including territorial waters from any potential disaster that can be prevented. Therefore I'm writing, on behalf of my community and concerned Australians,to appeal to the government to:

(1) voice against the decision of Japanese government;

(2) do a scientific research about any potential impacts of the contaminated water if dumped into sea, and 

(3) develop an appropriate crisis response plan for multiple scenarios.