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TEPCO Dumping Radioactive Wastewater into Sea

Posted Apr. 4, 2011 / Posted by: Kelly Trout

For Immediate Release

Contact:

Kelly Trout, 202-222-0722, ktrout@foe.org; Nick Berning, 202-222-0748, nberning@foe.org

TEPCO Implementing Massive Discharge of Nuclear Waste into Open Ocean

Friends of the Earth calls on U.S. government to intervene

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Friends of the Earth warned today that plans by the Japanese utility TEPCO to dump some 11,500 tons of radioactive wastewater into the Pacific Ocean pose substantial threats to people and the environment.

Given U.S. government involvement in efforts to control the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Friends of the Earth called on the Obama administration to intervene to stop this dumping of nuclear waste.

“Dumping this nuclear waste directly into the Pacific is dangerous and unacceptable,” said Damon Moglen, Director of the Climate and Energy Project at Friends of the Earth.  “It’s incredible that while an international treaty forbids the dumping of even a barrel of this nuclear waste from a ship, Japan intends to send thousands of tons of that waste into the ocean. This dumping poses a direct threat to humans and the environment, and fisheries and industries depending on a clean Pacific could be devastated.”

TEPCO announced today that it will immediately begin dumping 11,500 tons of radioactive waste water left from hosing down the four reactors and additional spent fuel ponds at Fukushima that have been involved in explosions, fires, and venting of radioactive material.  While not providing data on the exact content and nature of the contamination contained in the nuclear waste water, TEPCO authorities have reportedly stated that the water is at least some 100 times beyond legal limits.

Japan is a signatory to the London Convention, which forbids countries from dumping nuclear waste at sea.  But, under a loophole in that treaty, nuclear waste can be released from land-based sources.  The Japanese government and TEPCO appear poised to use that loophole to pump the 11,500 tons of waste from the shore at Fukushima into the ocean. This waste cannot legally be dumped from a ship at sea.

“As the Obama administration has sent experts from numerous U.S. agencies to assist in response to the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, we have a right to know whether or not our government supports this nuclear waste dumping when alternatives are available,” Moglen said. “Given that ocean currents will likely bring some of this radioactive contamination onto our shores, and given that contaminated seafood could find its way into the U.S. market, we demand to know what the U.S. government is doing to stop this dumping and to force TEPCO to retain this nuclear waste at the company’s expense.”

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