From the Philippines: Concerns aired over Japan’s nuclear waste disposal
MANILA – Civil society leaders in the Philippines expressed concern over Japan’s decision to release treated radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean.
Over Wednesday Roundtable @ Lido this morning, Atty. Corazon Valdez Fabros of the Nuclear-Free Philippines Coalition said the Japanese government’s decision is no longer new because it has been a long subject of debate even among Japanese nationals.
“It is a matter of concern especially for countries nearby like Korea, Taiwan and other countries. I am not sure whether the Philippines has registered its objection, I haven’t heard any,” she said. Atty. Valdez Fabros added even experts in India warned the Japanese government of the impending implications as soon as the announcement was made in early April.
She added they are not giving up as civil society leaders and experts in the region and other parts of the world are opposed to the plan.
“We all look at the land mass and the body of water that surround these islands is invisible, but we need to look at it as a very important part of the whole universe, the ocean is not invisible as it is a very good way distributing contamination,” she added. She explained releasing contaminated waste into the ocean is more dangerous.
She expressed optimism Japan would consider other options as there is an on-going signature campaign which has generated 70,000 signatories from 49 countries but apparently, “Japan has not listened to it.”
Dr. Carlo A. Arcilla, Philippine Nuclear Research Institute director, said he understands the concern for nuclear waste disposal because wastes remains active for 10,000 years exceeding governments and culture.
“The world’s nuclear community is of the consensus is to go geologic disposal since you cannot stop nuclear operations, there is a need to construct engineered barriers so it does not spread,” he said. Dr. Arcilla who served Dean of the University of the Philippines’ Department of Mining, Metallurgical, and Materials Engineering, added nuclear wastes should be placed deep in the earth so as not to affect human life and societies.
He expressed confidence that nuclear waste needs to be enveloped in bentonite, a natural clay mineral with negative layers as uranium ions is positive.
“They will be trapped there. All that is needed is to bury them by at least 500 to 600 meters. These nuclear wastes need to be monitored,” he explained. He cited Filipinos have been drilling geothermal wells two to three kilometers deep making them drill for lesser depths would be easier.
Although Japan would release tritium, whose radioactive levels are already low, it cannot be disposed by dilution.
Meanwhile, Ms. Veronica Cabe, a leader of the Nuclear-Free Bataan Movement, said she and her group are aware of the Japanese citizens’ call on their government not to dispose its nuclear wastes into the ocean.
“In 2013, the Japanese government were considering five options but they chose to dispose their wastes into the sea because they probably thought it is the least expensive option,” she said. She added experts from all over expressed concern for the disposal include those from Russia and China.
She said there was a research in Germany which revealed nuclear wastes diluted into the Pacific Ocean may contaminate the whole body of water in less than two months and the world’s seas in a decade.
Meanwhile, Ms. Lourdes Arsenio, coordinator of the Archdiocese of Manila’s Ecology Ministry said she is worried because people behind the nuclear waste disposal into the Pacific Ocean has not considered the precautionary principle which needs to put a premium on the people’s safety. (Melo M. Acuña)
Atty. Corazon Valdez-Fabros, Nuclear-Free Philippines, Dr. Carlo A. Arcilla, Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) and Ms. Lou Arsensio, Coordinator, Ecology Desk, Archdiocese of Manila. (Screen grab from Wednesday Roundtable @ Lido/Melo M. Acuna)