ACCCIM would like to express grave concern over the planned discharge of huge amount of treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean over a period of 30-40 years, effective August 2023.
One cannot rule out the possible severe immediate and long-term implications of the nuclear waste water on our national waters as there is no limit to the movement of ocean currents and the migration of marine life. Hence, we have to be vigilant about the potential risk of contamination in the food chains as well as affecting marine life that poses threat to human health.
We have raised our concerns to YB Chang Lih Kang, Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation. The Minister will be setting up a discussion session between the Malaysia Nuclear Agency and ACCCIM, to enable exchanging of views on the issue at hand, and to closely monitor further developments.
We would like to urge the Malaysian Government and ASEAN authorities to bring up this important issue with the Japanese counterpart. The planned release of treated nuclear waste water could potentially cause irreversible damage to the trust of the regional countries and business sectors placed on the Japanese government.
Despite a neutrality report released by the IAEA, we have not seen official confirmation provided by any prominent medical associations from G7 countries or the Asia Pacific region that the planned discharge of nuclear water into ocean would not cause severe pollution and health hazards as well as harmful to marine eco-system.
According to Tokyo Electric Power (the nuclear plant’s operator), about 1.3 million tonnes of water would be treated first before being pumped into the ocean, except for radioactive element tritium which is difficult to separate from water. The concern is once the radioactive tritium gets inside the body cells over an extended period, the damage could be surfacing and becomes visible only years later.
Some scientists have expressed concerns that while scientific evidence over the long-term impact on marine life and human body have not been established, it is plausible to look for other options first before pumping the nuclear water into the ocean. These options include the use of the treated nuclear water in domestic or industrial use, such as use of the nuclear water in the construction sector, or dumping the nuclear water along the long stretch of highways nationwide.
Malaysians still have vivid memory on the severe health implication of the radioactive waste products of Asian Rare Earth Factory in Bukit Merah of Perak State. The factory started operations in 1982, but was forced to shut down in 1994 over its radioactive waste and legal battles surrounding its operations. Cases of birth defects and leukaemia were reported surging within five years during the operations of the refinery, despite statements by experts confirming its safety earlier.
ACCCIM sincerely hopes that Japanese government would take into account public concerns of the regional countries before making the final decision to discharge the nuclear water into the ocean for the next 30-40 years. The long-term human health concerns outweigh all other considerations.