The chair of the forum has demanded explanations on Japan’s intentions to deposit nuclear waste.

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Japan plans to dump more than a million tonnes of contaminated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which was wrecked in an earthquake in 2011. Photo: Koji Ito / The Yomiuri Shimbun via AFP)

The Pacific Islands Forum’s chairman wants Japan to provide more information about its plan to discharge effluent from the Fukushima nuclear power plant in the Pacific.

Secretary General Henry Puna called for a frank discussion ahead of a meeting with the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, after that organisation said Japan’s dumping plan was technically feasible.

The Japanese government has stated that it intends to dump nearly a million tonnes of toxic effluent from the stricken facility into the sea.

Puna has requested answers on the implications of those plans on the Pacific Ocean, and Pacific countries have joined in their condemnation of the idea.

The legacy of nuclear testing looms over the region, with the attendant health and environmental hazards generated by US, UK, and French testing being mostly unsolved today.

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“The threat of nuclear contamination continues to be of significant concern to the health and security of our Blue Pacific continent,” Puna said.

He said the Pacific was entitled to clear answers, including evidence-based scientific assessments, to underpin Japan’s plan.

The prime minister of the Cook Islands, Henry Puna.

The prime minister of the Cook Islands, Henry Puna. Photo: RNZ / Jamie Tahana

“Our 50-year history as the Forum has been overshadowed by our nuclear legacy issues, which continue to impact affected communities today, and we should not accept anything less,” Puna said.

Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga has said dumping the water is unavoidable.


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