Rep. Sheila J. Babauta (D-Saipan) has introduced a joint resolution to condemn Japan’s decision to dump nuclear waste into the Pacific Ocean.
At the House of Representatives regular session Thursday, Babauta, who chairs the House’s Natural Resources Committee, said House Joint Resolution 22-11 opposes any other government’s actions related to nuclear testing, storage, and waste disposal in the Pacific and reaffirm everyone’s fundamental right to a safe and healthy living environment.
Japan announced in April a plan to start dumping in two years into the Pacific more than a million tons of treated but still radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant, which was destroyed in the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
Babauta’s resolution states that the Pacific Ocean is a resource and home for many in the Commonwealth, broader Oceania, and many in Japan who rely on it to provide food, economic subsistence, a means of travel, and so many other aspects of life that can be easily threatened by human activities such as pollution and nuclear exercises.
The lawmaker said the peoples of Oceania have throughout history been disproportionately impacted by foreign powers’ nuclear activities within the Pacific region.
This is not the first time this has happened. In 1979, Japan proposed a plan to dump about 10,000 drums of nuclear waste in the Pacific.
Babauta said the Special Rapporteurs from the United Nations released a statement expressing deep disappointment in Japan’s latest decision, saying “the release of one million tons of contaminated water into the marine environment imposes considerable risks to the full enjoyment of human rights of concerned populations in and beyond the borders of Japan.”
She said the Special Rapporteurs reminded Japan of its international obligations to prevent exposure to hazardous substances, to conduct environmental impact assessments of the risk that the discharge of water may have, to prevent transboundary environmental harms, and to protect the marine environment.
Babauta said the House, the Senate concurring, that the Legislature condemns the Government of Japan’s decision to dispose of nuclear waste into the Pacific Ocean.