At the heart of this special leaders’ retreat is the unity and strength of our one BluePacific, says outgoing forum chair and Fijian Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka.

Feb 24 2023

A leading Pacific voice in academia is speaking out against Japan’s plan to dump contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean.

University of Auckland associate dean Pacific Sir Collin Tukuitonga is vehemently opposed to the decision to release 1.25 million litres of treated wastewater from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

“While the science of this issue could perhaps be argued either way, it is completely unacceptable to be dumping contaminated wastewater into our Pacific Ocean,” Tukuitonga said.

“Pacific peoples rely on the ocean for our livelihoods and to feed our families. We are the guardians of the largest and most precious ocean in the world. There is absolutely no way that the Pacific should be the dumping ground for this waste.”

An earthquake in March 2011 followed by a tsunami caused major damage to the plant and knocked out its cooling system.

The nuclear power plant is now defunct but to keep the reactors from overheating hundreds of tonnes of water are pumped through the reactors every day.

University of Auckland academic Sir Collin Tukuitonga has joined the chorus of Pacific voices opposed to a plan to dump treated wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean.

As Japan is running out of space to store this contaminated water, it plans to dump the treated wastewater directly into the Pacific.

Despite protests the dumping is expected to start some time this year and continue for 30 to 40 years.

Many Pacific nations have voiced opposition to the plan including Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown, who is leading a delegation to Japan to present the case against the proposal.

Tukuitonga said it was important that larger Pacific nations such as Aotearoa New Zealand use their voices to oppose the dumping.

“New Zealand has a responsibility to its partners in the region to stand up to Japan for its lack of consideration for Pacific peoples living in the region who heavily rely on the ocean for their livelihoods,” he said.

The matter was high on the agenda at the Special Pacific Leaders Retreat in Fiji on Friday.