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At U.N., Micronesia denounces Japan plan to release Fukushima water into Pacific

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At U.N., Micronesia denounces Japan plan to release Fukushima water into Pacific

A worker, wearing protective suits and masks, takes notes in front of radioactive water storage tanks at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma city, Fukushima prefecture, Japan Feb. 10, 2016. REUTERS/ Toru Hanai

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UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 22 (Reuters) – The president of the Pacific island nation of Micronesia on Thursday denounced Japan’s decision to drain what he called nuclear-contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the Pacific. to discharge.

Speaking to the UN General Assembly in New York, David Panuelo said Micronesia had “the greatest concern” about Japan’s decision to discharge its so-called Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) water into the ocean.

“We cannot close our eyes to the unimaginable threats of nuclear contamination, marine pollution and the ultimate destruction of the Blue Pacific Continent,” he said.

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“The implications of this decision are both transboundary and intergenerational in nature. As the head of state of Micronesia, I cannot allow the destruction of our ocean resources that support the livelihoods of our people.”

Japan said in July that its nuclear regulators had approved a plan to discharge water into the Pacific Ocean used to cool reactors in the wake of the March 2011 Fukushima disaster.

The water is stored in huge tanks at the factory and amounted to more than 1.3 million tons in July.

Japan’s foreign ministry said at the time that regulators deemed it safe to release the water, which will still contain traces of the radioactive isotope tritium after treatment.

Asked about Panuelo’s statement, Yukiko Okano, the ministry’s deputy press secretary, said regarding Fukushima that Japan would do its best “to gain understanding from the international community about the security of our activities there.”

The plant’s operator, Tokyo Power Electric Company (Tepco), plans to filter the contaminated water to remove harmful isotopes, apart from tritium, which is difficult to remove. It is then diluted and released to free up factory space so that Fukushima’s decommissioning can proceed.

The plan has met strong resistance from regional fisheries unions, who fear it will affect their livelihoods. Japan’s neighbors, China, South Korea and Taiwan have also expressed concerns.

Panuelo also highlighted the threat of climate change, to which the Pacific island nations are particularly vulnerable. He called on geopolitical rivals the United States and China to view it as “a non-political and non-competitive issue for cooperation.”

“For a short time, it seemed as if the Americans, with whom Micronesia shares a lasting partnership, and the Chinese, with whom Micronesia shares a great friendship, started working together on this issue, despite mounting tensions in other areas,” he said. he. “Now they don’t talk to each other about this important issue.”

China announced in August that it was suspending bilateral cooperation with the United States on defense, narcotics, cross-border crime and climate change in protest at a visit to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Panuelo’s comments coincided with a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, host of the Partners in the Blue Pacific countries, including Japan, to better coordinate aid to the region in the face of competition from China. . read more

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Reporting by David Brunnstrom; adaptation by Grant McCool and Stephen Coates

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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