Northern Mariana Islands condemn Japan’s sanitation plans


October 4, 2021

The Northern Mariana Islands “condemn” Japan’s plans to dump its treated nuclear wastewater into the Pacific.

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives passed a joint resolution on Japan’s plans to release the 1.25 million tonnes of sewage from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in 2011.

The U.S. territory is the latest of several Pacific countries, territories and regional organizations to question those plans, following Japan’s announcement in April that it would discharge treated wastewater over a 40-year period from from 2023.

The resolution, introduced on September 23 by Representative Sheila Babauta, who is also chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, noted that CNMI “highly values” its relationship with Japan, but noted that its plans date back to 1979, when Japan planned to dump around 10,000 drums of nuclear waste in the Pacific.

The resolution also stated: “Foreign powers have a poor record in terms of transparency and full disclosure of the dangers and risks of these nuclear activities, particularly with regard to human health and the environment.”

Japan expressed its disappointment through its consul in Saipan, Kazuhiko Ono, wondering why CNMI called the treated wastewater “nuclear waste”.

Ono said the amount of tritium was both negligible and would be monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency, adding that the US State Department had expressed support for Japan’s “transparent” plans in April.

“But the government of CNMI, a US territory, condemns it. Why is CNMI House raising this now? The Japanese government’s decision to discharge the treated water was announced in April,” Ono told reporters on Friday. “In addition, the… scheduled discharge of treated water [will happen] within a year and a half. Why does the CNMI House target and condemn only Japan, which is one of the countries that emit the least water treated with tritium? “

The resolution says the House not only condemned Japan’s plans, but opposed “any other government action related to nuclear testing, storage and waste disposal in the Pacific, and reaffirms the fundamental right of everyone to a safe and healthy living environment “.

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