Joint Statement of the Committees of the CBCJ and the CBCK
We Oppose Dumping Treated Radioactive Water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant
of the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings into the Ocean
The Japanese government is soon going to make a final decision on a plan to dump radioactive water into the ocean. It is claimed that this radioactive water, which includes tritium, has been purified and treated using a complex filtration process called the Advanced Liquid Process System (hereafter ALPS) of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant of the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings. The Committee for Justice & Peace and the Committee for Ecology & Environment of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea (CBCK), together with the Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace and its Subcommittee for Denuclearization for Peace oppose such a plan.
Fishermen’s groups from Fukushima, Miyagi, Ibaraki and other areas, the Japan Fisheries Association, and the Councils of Fukushima Prefecture and other local authorities in neighboring regions have all expressed strong opposition to the aforementioned plan.
In addition, Mr. Won Hee-ryong, Governor of Jeju in Korea, has urged Japan to halt immediately its preparations to discharge radioactive water into the ocean.
On February, 2020, a report concerning the release of ALPS treated water was made by the Subcommittee on Handling of ALPS Treated Water by two Japanese governmental organizations: the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, and the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy. In the report, the following points were outlined:
1. When technical feasibility, secondary waste, cost, and other aspects are considered, discharging ALPS treated water into the ocean is the most appropriate way.
2. Tritium, an isotope impossible to be removed by ALPS, has relatively less impact on health than other radioactive isotopes. In addition, “no examples of impact attributable to tritium have been commonly seen among nuclear power facilities.”
3. Besides tritium, radionuclides remaining in more than 70% of ALPS treated water, which has been criticized for a long time, will be reduced to satisfy regulatory standards for discharge by undergoing a secondary purification process.
4. It is most concerning that rumor-based reputational damages, such as dangers of food, products, the land, companies that are practically safe, lead take a heavy toll on the economy.
However, as many experts have pointed out, secondary purification for radionuclides remaining at more than 70% in ALPS treated water is still in experimental stages with no signs of evident progress. Furthermore, such experts also air a variety of opinions on concerns such as how tritium might have negative and direct impacts on health that may trigger stillbirth and death in early childhood and cause Down syndrome, pediatric leukemia, and other health problems.
Either storage of ALPS treated water in huge tanks or solidification in mortar can be considered a method of disposal. There is also room to secure other sites for the construction of additional tanks. Accordingly, the Japanese government should not view the discharge of ALPS treated water into the ocean as the only way to deal with this problem.
Above all, of concern is the fact that the Japanese government’s report failed to mention how ALPS treated water will affect marine life and ocean ecology, but mentioned only its possible impact on human body. It goes without saying that once radioactive material is released, it can never be recaptured.
Regarding the construction and maintenance of nuclear power plants, the whole nation, including local people in the most effected areas, has been going through an agonizing time, but unfortunately also falling into the trap of false information. In the summer of 2013, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant leaked 300 tons of radioactive water. Nevertheless, at the Session of the International Olympic Committee held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, September 2013, Mr. Shinzo Abe, then Prime Minister of Japan, said, “the situation is under control.” This was evidently false. Let us for a moment think about how this remark made people resentful: local residents were inevitably evacuated, thus losing their livelihoods and daily lives, all without receiving adequate compensation for their losses.
The year 2021 marks the 10th commemoration of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the disaster of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. If Japan discharges ALPS treated water into the ocean without enabling to predict how it will impact on human and nature, it will aggravate anxiety not only of Japanese people but of people all over the world connected to sea, and will also inflict damage on us.
Once the human body and natural environment have been harmed, it is too late to regret it. It is our full responsibility to leave an inhabitable and healthy planet to future generations.
Pope Francis, leader of the Catholic Church, described intergenerational justice as follows: “Since the world has been given to us, we can no longer view reality in a purely utilitarian way, in which efficiency and productivity are entirely geared to our individual benefit. Intergenerational solidarity is not optional, but rather a basic question of justice, since the world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us” (Laudato sí, n.159).
Thus, the CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace, the CBCK Committee for Ecology & Environment, the Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace, and its Subcommittee for Denuclearization for Peace have issued this joint-statement in opposition to the Japanese government’s decision to release ALPS treated water into the ocean.
February 9, 2021
+ Bernard Taiji Katsuya,
Responsible Bishop of the Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace
Fr. Ichiro Mitsunobu,
for Denuclearization for Peace
+ Constantine Bae Ki-Hyen,
President of the CBCK Committee
for Justice & Peace
+ Abbot Balsio Park Hyun-dong, O.S.B.,
President of the CBCK Committee
for Ecology & Environment