Premier Hon Dalton Tagelagi says that he and the Niue government are very concerned about the release of the nuclear wastewater into the Pacific Ocean by the Government of Japan as the impacts to human health and environment are still unclear.
In a press statement hours after nearly eight thousand cubic metres of wastewater was released into the Pacific Ocean by Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power responsible for the plant and the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi plant destroyed during the 2011 Tsunami, Premier Tagelagi said “It’s unfortunate that the Government of Japan is going ahead with this discharge of nuclear wastewater into the Pacific so soon.”
Premier Dalton Tagelagi said that Niue is committed to preserving our precious natural resources for present and future generations and we call on Japan to reconsider the timing of its nuclear wastewater discharge into our Blue Pacific Continent.
According to largest world news agency Reuters “The first discharge totalling 7,800 cubic metres – the equivalent of about three Olympic swimming pools of water – will take place over about 17 days”
The Niue government said that “This release of treated nuclear wastewater is a transboundary and intergenerational issue and similar concerns were shared by other member nations at the recent Pacific Leaders Forum.
“The majority of Niue are coastal peoples, and the ocean is an integral part of our culture, traditions and livelihoods and we must protect it at all costs, said Premier Dalton Tagelagi
“The government of Niue expects to be informed and receive continued monitoring results from the government of Japan to show that the initial discharges are safe, including continued independent reviews from The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and others.”
Niue is a signatory to the Treaty of Rarotonga and is legally bound to keep the region free of environmental pollution by radioactive and nuclear waste and other radioactive matter, and to uphold legal obligations to prevent ocean dumping and any action to assist or encourage dumping by other states.
Niue’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is its largest geographical resource and in 2017, Niue declared 40% of its EEZ as a marine protected area Moana Mahu, which translates to ‘a bountiful ocean’ something that the Niue government and certainly Premier Dalton Tagelagi are very concerned about.
Sentiments shared by most Pacific leaders including the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Henry Puna who said that “The Forum Secretariat has worked with all Members to pursue different avenues over the last three years to “urge Japan to take all steps necessary to address any potential harm to the Pacific”, and “to take all appropriate measures within its territory, jurisdiction and control to prevent transboundary harm to the territory of another state, as required under international law”.
By the same token, we have relied on Japan’s assurances that discharge will not take place if it is not verifiably safe to do so, as well as their commitment to ensuring that the any release would “not be allowed in a manner that endangers the lives of Japanese citizens or those of the citizens of Pacific Island countries”.
Secretary General Henry Puna, in his statement said that as this unprecedented unfolds over time he remains dedicated to addressing this saying that “This will not be the first nor last time we will have to deal with these issues. I remain dedicated and committed to driving our collective interests, and I am confident that we will be able to move forward for the benefit of all states, and present and future generations who share the Pacific Ocean as our home and livelihood.”