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Japan: UN Experts Say Deeply Disappointed By Decision To Discharge Fukushima Water

GENEVA (15 April 2021) – UN human rights experts* today
expressed deep regret at Japan’s decision to release
contaminated water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear
plant into the ocean, saying the discharge could impact
millions of lives and livelihoods in the Pacific

“The release of one million tonnes of
contaminated water into the marine environment imposes
considerable risks to the full enjoyment of human rights of
concerned populations in and beyond the borders of Japan,”
the independent experts appointed by the Human Rights
Council said.

“The Government’s decision is very
concerning given the warnings about the effect of such a
discharge on so many people’s lives and the environment at
large. It comes after years of discussion and concerns
raised by local communities — particularly the fishing
community who was already severely hit by the 2011 disaster
— environmental NGOs, neighbouring countries and civil
society. The decision is particularly disappointing as
experts believe alternative solutions to the problem are

UN experts have voiced their concerns to
the Japanese Government about the potential threats to human
health and the environment resulting from the discharge of
radioactive water to the Pacific Ocean.

The experts
said the water may contain quantities of radioactive
carbon-14, as well as other radioactive isotopes including
strontium-90 and tritium. In correspondence with the
experts, the Japanese Government suggested that the treated
water stored in the tanks was not contaminated.

experts said that the water processing technology known as
ALPS had failed to completely remove radioactive
concentrations in most of the contaminated water stored in
tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. “A first application
ALPS failed to clean the water below regulatory levels and
there are no guarantees that a second treatment will
succeed,” they said, adding that the technology did not
remove radioactive tritium or carbon-14.

“Japan has
noted that the levels of tritium are very low and do not
pose a threat to human health. However, scientists warn that
the tritium in the water organically binds to other
molecules, moving up the food chain affecting plants and
fish and humans. They say the radioactive hazards of tritium
have been underestimated and could pose risks to humans and
the environment for over 100 years.

“We remind Japan
of its international obligations to prevent exposure to
hazardous substances, to conduct environmental impact
assessments of the risks that the discharge of water may
have, to prevent transboundary environmental harms, and to
protect the marine environment,” the experts

The UN independent experts have communicated
their concerns related to the aftermath of the Fukushima
disaster to the Japanese authorities in the following

JPN 1/2021 of 13.01.2021;
JPN 1/2020 of 20.04.2020; JPN 6/2018 of 05.09.2018; JPN
5/2018 of 28.06.2018; JPN 2/2017 of


*The experts:
Marcos A.
, Special
Rapporteur on toxics and human rights
Mr. Michael Fakhri,
Rapporteur on Right to Food
, Mr. David
Rapporteur on human rights and the

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