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Japan Outraged Over US Release of Toxic Water in Okinawa

By Ilya Tsukanov – Sputnik – 04.09.2021

In April, Japan’s neighbours expressed outrage in over Tokyo’s plans to release 1.23 million tonnes of contaminated wastewater from a storage facility at destroyed Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean. Japanese authorities have insisted that the wastewater is safe, but environmental groups have contested such claims.

China Global Television Network (CGTN), a Beijing-based English-language TV news service, has poked fun at Japanese authorities over the apparent hypocrisy shown by Tokyo when it comes to the dumping of hazardous wastewater.

In recent weeks, Japanese media, government officials and environmental activists have been up in arms over plans by US forces in Okinawa to dump potentially dangerous chemicals into the local sewage system.

The scandal began to gather steam in June, when the Pentagon reported the leakage of water containing toxic materials from a US Army storage facility in Uruma and other locations across the strategically situated islands. In July, the US military informed Okinawa authorities of plans to release treated but potentially hazardous wastewater to prevent the danger of another leak.

The US military insisted that the wastewater was treated to Japanese government standards and safe to drink, and began dumping it into the local sewage system on 26 August. The water was known to contain trace concentrations of organofluorine compounds, including perfluorooctanesulfonic acid and perfluorooctanoic acid. Scientific studies have indicated that these chemicals can affect the health of wildlife, with the potential to cause reduced immunoglobulin levels and brain asymmetry in offspring, and to result in increased risk of chronic kidney disease and other ailments among humans. The chemicals’ resistance to natural breakup and tendency to accumulate in organisms have led them to be dubbed “forever chemicals.” Japan banned the production of the acids in 2010, and established strict guidelines on safe levels of the substances of less than 50 nanograms per liter of water last year.

The US military informed Japanese authorities of their plans to dump the chemical-laced water less than an hour before starting, and insisted that their wastewater contained less than 2.7 nanograms of the acids.

Okinawa authorities had asked for an immediate halt to the dumping, but the US military apparently ignored their protest, releasing at least 64,000 liters of the potentially toxic wastewater into the sewage system, with the water then dumped into the ocean due to the system’s inability to treat it. Before proceeding with the dump, US forces turned down a local company’s offer to treat the water, deeming it prohibitively expensive.

At a news conference organized on the day the water was dumped, Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki expressed outrage over the release of the contaminated water. “I feel strong outrage that the US military unilaterally dumped the water even while they knew that discussions were proceeding between Japan and the United States on how to handle the contaminated water,” he said.

Last week, Japan’s national authorities formally intervened, with Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi issuing a strong protest and saying that US Marines’ decision to dump the water was “extremely regrettable.”

“Local residents are feeling very anxious,” Koizumi complained, while promising to work with the relevant ministries and Okinawa authorities “to ensure this is handled in an appropriate manner, as well as reconfirm the details with the United States.”

In a separate statement, Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi said that he had asked US forces to please stop dumping any more contaminated water.

Environment Ministry and Defence Ministry officials visited Okinawa this past week to discuss the problem, offering a rare public apology to Masanori Matsugawa, the mayor of Ginowan, Okinawa, the city potentially most heavily affected by the dumping. “We extend our deepest apology,” Makoto Ikeda, the head of the Defence Ministry’s environmental policy division told Matsugawa. “We also consider it extremely regrettable that the water was dumped so suddenly,” he added.

Chinese Media: ‘What goes around comes around’

China’s CGTN poked fun at the Japanese government over the calamity on Saturday, tweeting a political cartoon showing a Japanese man nonchalantly dumping nuclear wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean, and then complaining as a Marine is pictured dumping hazardous water into Okinawa’s sewage system.

September 4, 2021 - Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , ,

1 Comment »

  1. “The US military insisted that the wastewater was treated to Japanese government standards and safe to drink, and began dumping it into the local sewage system on 26 August. The water was known to contain trace concentrations of organofluorine compounds, including perfluorooctanesulfonic acid and perfluorooctanoic acid”.

    The obvious answer is to dump it into the Ocean and let the North Pacific Current deal with it. The current will take it towards Canada/USA, and the assurances given by the American Military can be debated at that point.

    The USA Military wouldn’t lie, would they?

    Like

    Comment by brianharryaustralia | September 4, 2021 | Reply


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