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Japan’s Decision To Dump Nuclear Waste Into The Ocean Puts Years Of Climate Action At Stake!

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If we don’t act now to stop ocean pollution, the entire climate action we take will be a wasted effort.

The Japanese government’s decision to release the radioactive wastewater into the ocean is surely a stumbling block in the way of all the progressive measures we have taken to battle ocean pollution. The contaminated water of one million tons from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is planned to dump in the Pacific Ocean by the year 2022. While the nuclear disaster itself was aftereffects of intense climate change, the more the nuclear wastes make their way into the ocean the more it creates marine pollution. 

A Quick Glance At The Fukushima Nuclear Accident

In 2011, Japan had been through a catastrophic Tsunami that swept away a remarkable portion of Japanese coastal areas. Followed by an earthquake just less than two hours later, the Tsunami had led to the Fukushima nuclear accident. More than 20000 people died or displaced by the disaster. The Fukushima nuclear power plant constructed in the 1970s has a significant difference from the common French model nuclear power plants, the Japanese model comes with the boiling water reactors (BWRs).

After the destruction, the power plant did need an unusual amount of water to cool down these reactors to eliminate the threat of further deterioration. Consequently, this water gets contaminated by radiation, and disposal of the high amount of seawater turned radioactive wastes becomes a crisis. Ever since the event, the Japanese government was trying to deal with nuclear wastewater and unsure about its safe disposal.

More than 20000 people died or displaced by the disaster. Photo: Britannica

After Effects of The Disaster

The aftermath of the Nuclear Disaster in Japan resulted in an unprecedented increase in marine pollution. Almost 400 tons of water gets contaminated every day and 80% of the radioactive water has already leaked into the ocean. Consequently, the contaminated marine environment affects the entire food chain due to the substantial reduction in fish resources and is responsible for the death of several coastal organisms. Also, the disaster had a huge negative impact on the Japanese economy due to the decline in seafood imports which in turn because of high levels of nuclear radiation.

Why Dumping Waste Water In The Ocean Is A Bad Idea

According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, nuclear wastes should be safely contained and carefully disposed of. However, Japan’s plan to dump radioactive waste into the ocean is detrimental to the marine environment and public health. Environmental activists have called out Japans’ decision by pointing out that it is against environmental safeguards and also creates an immediate danger to the fish resources.

Besides, the Japanese economy had once recovered from the setbacks on coastal goods imports but this action would once again present itself as an economic dilemma. Neighbouring governments like South Korea and China had already condemned this plan and asked to revoke it. The general public of Canada and other countries revealed their concerns regarding health issues and its threat to the coastal organisms.

Photo: National Geographic Society

We Must Stop Using Ocean as a Garbage Bin

The prevention of marine pollution requires more than enough attention and action. It occurs by the dumping of chemicals, industrial wastes, and all kinds of trash in the ocean and by air pollution that threatens marine organisms and their habitat. Ship and sound pollution due to water transportation are yet other contributors to coastal decay. This situation will be out of control if we don’t stop using the ocean as a garbage bin.

About 8 million pieces of plastics are dumped in the ocean per day, which incinerate the coral reefs that protect the coastal organisms from extinction. Ocean pollution can also generate human health problems like reproductive issues, kidney failure, hormonal diseases, nervous issues, and allergies.

The release of nuclear wastewater to the ocean would only deteriorate the climate crisis more and pushes the situation further out of hand. The government is advised by many scholars to communicate with international organizations like the International Atomic Energy Agency to avoid the public from panics and to stave off a possible global crisis both economic and environmental.

Amidst the controversial situation, the Japanese authorities have mentioned an immediate cabinet meeting to be conducted to discuss the issue and to give an update on the decision. The government’s defence on the disposal of nuclear waste in the ocean is that the wastewater would only be dumped after reducing its level of nuclear radiation. Well, however less the radiation is and whether or not it’s contaminated, no amount of wastes should be allowed to toss out in the ocean. Now is the time to stop marine pollution.

About the Author: Nivya Jayan is a passionate writer and graduate in Economics.  A reader for life interested in politics and diplomacy.  

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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