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최종편집 : 2024.04.22 월 19:31
Society & Global
Society & Global Section
확대축소프린트
 Park Su-min
4th Discharge of Fukushima Contaminated Wastewater amid Domestic and International Anger
제 214 호    발행일 : 2024.03.11 
  Since the commencement of the 1st release of radioactive contaminated water from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant a on August 24 last year, approximately 23,400 tons have been discharged on three occasions. On Fub 28, Japan began the fourth release, totaling 7,800 tons. Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO) asserted that during the preceding three releases, the monitoring of the waters surrounding the nuclear power plant showed radiation levels below the established standards, indicating no issues. However, incidents such as the leakage of 15,000 tons of contaminated water and instances where on-site workers inadvertently used the contaminated water have occurred. In response, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has initiated an investigation into whether safety measures were insufficient, suggesting a potential violation of regulations. Despite proceeding with the 4th release amid multiple incidents, calls for a halt persist from within Japan and neighboring countries, reflecting ongoing apprehension and criticism.
  On March 4, Li Song, a Chinese envoy reiterated China’s firm opposition to Japanese discharge of nuclear-contaminated wastewater into the ocean, calling for strengthening international supervision over the water release. Especially, Li pointed out that the long-standing dishonesty, chaotic management, and weak supervision of the TEPCO have undermined the credibility of the Japanese claim of “safe and reliable” wastewater discharge. Furthermore, in disregard of the opposition from neighboring countries and concerns of the global society, Japan has so far arbitrarily discharged over 23,000 tons of contaminated wastewater into the ocean, and started the 4th round of wastewater release last week, Li told a meeting of the agency’s board of governors. Calling Japanese discharge an unprecedented move that imposes the risk of nuclear contamination on the world, Li said its unprecedented spillover influence extends far beyond Japanese territory and jurisdiction, and thus it is by no means the nation’s private matter. Previously, China was taking strong action, including a complete ban on imports of Japanese seafood immediately after the discharge of contaminated water began. Mao Ning, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China, said that these responses are aimed at protecting food safety and public health and are completely legal, reasonable and necessary. Due to China’s import ban, Japanese exports of major items such as scallops were getting hard, and exports of Japanese marine products to China in 2023 plummeted by about 30% in terms of value compared to the previous year.
  The discharge of contaminated water by the Japanese government and TEPCO is experiencing strong opposition even within Japan. In Sept of last year, 151 Japanese citizens submitted a complaint to the Fukushima District Court requesting a provisional injunction against Japan and TEPCO to ban marine discharge. In Nov of the same year, more citizens and fisheries industry officials filed an additional complaint for similar reasons. According to the complaint, it was argued that the discharge of contaminated water into the ocean causes a decrease in the value of fishing, thereby violating the right to survival of fisheries personnel and the right of citizens to live peacefully in a pollution-free environment. The plaintiff requested the government to cancel the planned approval for ocean discharge and the inspection compliance of related facilities, and requested TEPCO to ban ocean discharge.
  Amongst the legal claims of the plaintiffs, such as a violation of the “right to a peaceful life,” is Article 4 London Protocol (LP). The plaintiffs argue that this provision prohibits the dumping of all radioactive waste into the sea in its entirety, including from pipelines.
  Pointing to a recent Note of the Secretariat of the London Convention (LC), the plaintiffs acknowledge that there is currently no agreement on the correct interpretation of the LC, but that some States support an interpretation of the Convention to include discharge of waste from pipelines, especially on the basis of a teleological interpretation of the LC/LP.
  According to legal experts from the Dept of Transboundary Legal Studies at the Faculty of Law of University of Groningen, Dr. Marlies Hesselman and Grace Nishikawa, the argument on Article 4 LP is remarkable, as the matter is currently debated within the Governing Bodies for the LC/LP as well. According to Article 4 LP, Contracting Parties “shall prohibit the dumping of any wastes or other matter with the exception of those listed in Annex 1.” It is generally understood that the LC prohibits the dumping of all radioactive wastes. At least one other Party, China, argues that Article 4 prohibits discharges of radio-active waste into the sea from pipelines. Experts said that in light of the rather hesitant attitude of the Japanese courts towards international law generally, it may also well be that the LP controversy is evaded entirely, in the face of other pertinent questions of law and fact posed by the lawsuit.
  The Fukushima District Court hearing began on March 4, and according to Fukushima Broadcasting Co. (KFB, 福島放送), one of the plaintiffs in court, a fisherman, stated that he hoped the fishing industry would continue with his son's son, but that it may not continue. The plaintiffs hope to complete the district court lawsuit within three years, but they will likely appeal to the High Court, and the plaintiffs’ lawyers predict it will take about five years until a ruling is issued.
  Despite the diplomatic conflicts and domestic issues caused by the discharge of contaminated water, the Japanese government plans to make a fourth discharge of 7,800 tons of contaminated water by 17.


By Park Su-min
psm0129@chungbuk.ac.kr
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