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Comments on discharge of the ALPS-treated water

Six months have passed since the 23rd Fukushima Dialogue “Sharing about the issues of the ALPS-treated water at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima” was organised by NPO Fukushima Dialogue on 28 November last year. (You can see the records from here and here)

The event was widely covered by the media, including NHK, Asahi Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun, Fukushima TV and TUF, and received a great response. We are glad that the significance of our attempt to hold a dialogue to discuss difficult issues publicly, without being bound by pros and cons, was highly appreciated.

Looking at the current situation regarding ALPS treated water, it seems that while the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the installation of discharge facilities and other procedural steps are being taken, the people concerned and the general public seem to have been left out of the loop. We have also received concerns from various people as to whether this is really the right way to go forward.

The exchange of views during last year’s dialogue demonstrated that the people concerned have their own opinions and thoughts and that they want to make their own efforts to deal with the reality of the situation. It is common for the local community and the people concerned to be concerned, not only about the ALPS process water but also around radioactive waste sites and nuclear facilities. The fact that social conflicts are likely to occur as a result of these concerns is a common phenomenon not only in Japan but also worldwide, as was recognised in the case studies presented by the international participants at the last Dialogue. In most cases, these insecurities and social conflicts are prolonged as long as the waste or facility exists. In response, it is also clear from past cases that unilateral communication from governments and operators is unlikely to resolve the problems.

In the case of ALPS treated water, the timing of the decision to discharge coincided with the resumption of full-scale fishing operations along the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, so the government’s actions were taken against the wishes of the people concerned at the most sensitive time for them. Once the release starts, it will be for a period of decades. Nevertheless, the fact that the release is about to take place without sufficient communication and without ensuring a communication framework in the future is a matter of great concern.

If we are to achieve a better recovery from the nuclear disaster, a communication framework that reflects the views of local communities and stakeholders is vital. As we said at the time of the Dialogue, we, the NPO Fukushima Dialogue, will continue to provide opportunities for dialogue between the people concerned, as necessary. We strongly hope that the government will also recognise the importance of a platform for interactive exchange of opinions with local communities and stakeholders and reflect their opinions on policies, rather than one-way explanations, publicity and promotions.

30 June, 2022
NPO Fukushima Dialogue