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.
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.
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.
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.
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.