The Northern Mariana Islands “condemns” Japan’s plans to discharge its processed nuclear wastewater into the Pacific.

The House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands made a joint resolution panning Japan’s plans to release the 1.25 million tons of wastewater, from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster in 2011.

The U.S. territory is the latest of several Pacific nations, territories and regional organizations calling the plans into question, following Japan’s April announcement that it would release the processed wastewater over the course of 40 years from 2023.

The resolution, introduced on Sept. 23 by representative Sheila Babauta, who is also House chair of the Natural Resources Committee, noted CNMI “immensely valued” its relationship with Japan, but noted that its plans harkened back to 1979, when Japan planned to dump approximately 10,000 drums of nuclear waste in the Pacific.

A team in Fukushima, part of a 2015 IAEA mission to review Japan’s plans and work to decommission the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. Courtesy: Susanna Loof/IAEA/2015

The resolution also stated: “foreign powers have a lackluster track record for transparency and fully disclosing the dangers and risks of these nuclear activities, especially as they relate to the health of people and the environment.”

Japan expressed its disappointment through its consul to Saipan, Kazuhiko Ono, questioning 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 U.S. Department of State expressed its support for Japan’s transparent” plans in April.

“But the government of the CNMI, a U.S. territory, condemns it. Why does the CNMI House bring this up now? The decision of the Japanese government to discharge treated water was announced in April,” Ono told reporters on Friday. “Also, the scheduled … discharge of the treated water [will happen] a year and a half from now. Why does the CNMI House only target and condemn Japan, which is one of the countries that discharge the least amount of tritium treated water?”

The resolution states that the House not only condemned Japan’s plans, but that it opposed “any other government’s actions related to nuclear testing, storage, and waste disposal in the Pacific, and reaffirm everyone’s fundamental right to a safe and healthy living environment.”

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