By JAMES TABABA
On June 29 at the Pandesal Forum of Kamuning Bakery Cafe in Quezon City, various fishermen and environmentalist groups gathered to express their opposition to the controversial plan by the Japanese government which involves the impending dumping of 1.3 million tons of Fukushima nuclear wastewaters into the Pacific Ocean. The fishermen and environmentalists urged all sectors of society to join their cause and support their opposition to this alarming proposal. The event was attended by Pangisda Pilipinas national chairperson Pablo Rosales, Nagsama fisherfolk federation of Lamon Bay in Quezon province; Nagsama Vice-Chairman Joey Sarte, YoungBEAN Bataan youth environmental NGO and Nuclear & Coal-Free Bataan Movement coordinator Derek Carbe.
Appeal to the Philippine and Japanese government
The fishermen groups and environmentalist organizations strongly opposed the plan to dump Fukushima nuclear wastewaters into the Pacific Ocean. They called upon the Japanese government to reconsider this decision and explore alternative solutions that prioritize the safety of marine ecosystems and the welfare of fishing communities. They stressed the need to protect the livelihoods of fishermen and ensure the safety of the food supply for the public and the importance of upholding the sustainability of the Pacific Ocean, not just for the immediate region but for the entire world.
In addition to their plea to the Japanese government, the fishermen groups and environmentalist organizations also appealed to the Philippine government. They called upon the authorities to listen to their concerns and pleas and take decisive actions to express opposition to the Fukushima wastewater plan. The support of the Philippine government was seen as crucial in amplifying the opposition and raising awareness about the potential risks associated with the disposal of radioactive wastewater.
The manifesto, representing the collective voice of small fishermen and communities across the Philippines, condemned the proposal by TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company), backed by the Japanese government, recognizing its grave threat not only to the people and marine ecosystems of Japan but also to the millions of individuals who depend on the Pacific Ocean’s resources for their livelihoods and sustenance.
The Filipino fishermen voiced deep concern regarding the assertion that the nuclear wastewater had been “treated” and deemed “safe” without substantial evidence, scientific data, and transparent documentation validating its safety claims. Even the United Nations (UN) experts expressed their disappointment and opposition to the plan, highlighting the potential hazards to human health and the environment due to the presence of radioactive contaminants such as carbon-14, strontium-90, and tritium. They claimed that reports indicated the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS), the water treatment process employed, had failed to effectively remove these radioactive materials from Fukushima’s nuclear wastewater.
Furthermore, the ongoing destruction plaguing the Pacific Ocean, caused by various forms of pollution including plastics, microplastics, and previous nuclear weapons testing, added to the urgency of the situation. The crisis would be further intensified by the disposal of Fukushima’s radioactive wastewater into the ocean, making worse the already alarming deterioration of the marine ecosystem. Despite the existence of alternative solutions, TEPCO persisted with this contentious plan, disregarding the welfare of the communities surrounding the Pacific Ocean, particularly the Japanese fishermen who faced the imminent loss of their livelihoods due to the fear of “radioactive fish.”
The long-lasting consequences of the contamination from Fukushima’s nuclear wastewater loomed over the current and future generations, especially the fishermen who heavily rely on the ocean’s resources.
Solidarity and support for fisherfolk
Following the event, a manifesto was circulated, and concerned individuals and organizations had the opportunity to sign it to show their solidarity and support for the cause. They planned to present the signed manifesto to the government, aiming to raise awareness and urge immediate action. In their pursuit of safeguarding the marine ecosystem and protecting the welfare of coastal communities, they held hope that President Bongbong Marcos would heed their call and take decisive measures to prevent the dumping of Fukushima nuclear wastewater into the Pacific Ocean. The fishermen and environmentalists believed that through collective effort and the support of their government, they could avert the potential ecological catastrophe that loomed ahead.