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IAEA report cannot justify discharging nuclear-contaminated water into ocean: spokesperson

Source: Xinhua | 2023-07-06
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IAEA report cannot justify discharging nuclear-contaminated water into ocean: spokesperson

BEIJING, July 5 (Xinhua) -- The report on the disposal of nuclear-contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station released by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) cannot justify or legitimize Japan's discharge of nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean, nor should the report be the "shield" or "greenlight" for it, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Wednesday.

Wang made the remarks at a regular press briefing when asked to comment on IAEA's report. He said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, China Atomic Energy Authority and the National Nuclear Safety Administration have made clear China's strong position.

"China's position is based on science and facts. I would like to stress again that the report should not be the 'shield' or 'greenlight' for Japan's discharge of nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean," Wang said.

He said that firstly, the report cannot justify Japan's plan of discharging nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean. The Japanese side unilaterally decided to dump the water into the ocean, which is in fact minimizing its own costs and risks while letting the world take nuclear contamination risks that could have been avoided. The report clearly pointed out that the IAEA provides neither a recommendation nor an endorsement of Japan's ocean discharge plan.

"Second, the report cannot give legitimacy to Japan's plan of discharging nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean," he said, adding that by discharging nuclear-contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean, the Japanese side may violate obligations stipulated in international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter in 1972.

"Since Japan claims that it abides by international law and rules, it owes the international community an explanation," Wang added.

Third, the report cannot ensure the safety of Japan's plan of discharging nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean. The effectiveness and long-term reliability of Japan's purification facility are not verified by a third party, the authenticity and accuracy of the nuclear-contaminated water data lacks proof and the long-term influence of radionuclides in the nuclear-contaminated water on food safety and people's health through biological concentration has not been studied, Wang said.

Fourth, the report cannot ensure the effectiveness of the monitoring arrangement. Wang said that Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the nuclear power plant's operator, has tampered with or held back nuclear-contaminated water data for many times. In IAEA's plan, the monitoring arrangement does not include independent sampling and takes TEPCO's data and information as the basis of monitoring. "Such practice is inadvisable," he said.

"Facts have shown that the report did not resolve the strong opposition against ocean discharge both in Japan and the rest of the world," Wang said.

He quoted results from relevant surveys, saying that according to the latest survey in Japan, 40 percent of Japanese oppose ocean discharge, and according to a joint survey by South Korean Hankook Ilbo and Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun newspapers, over 80 percent of ROK people disapprove of Japan's discharge of nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean.

Experts and people in the Pacific Island countries, the Philippines, Indonesia, South Africa, Peru and other countries protested and voiced their opposition. The Chinese people have strong concerns over Japan's discharge plan. Competent departments of the Chinese government will enhance marine environment monitoring and strengthen inspection and quarantine of imported seafood and other products to safeguard people's health and food safety, said Wang.

According to reports, the Japanese government plans to start the ocean discharge process as early as this August.

Japan's planned ocean discharge of the nuclear-contaminated water bears on major international public interest. "The stakes are too high. We cannot afford to ignore risks that might lead to a mishap," Wang said.

"We urge Japan to respect science and facts, not attempt to use the IAEA report to shield its ocean discharge, faithfully fulfill its moral responsibility and obligations under international law, stop pushing forward the ocean discharge plan, and dispose of the nuclear-contaminated water in a responsible manner," the spokesperson said.

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