[Media Today] The risk of radioactive water from Fukushima nuclear power plant, the UN system needs to be restructured.
Won-young Lee, Professor of Suwon University, Vice Chairman of the Korean Society for Nuclear Phaseout
Japan recently exposed South Korea’s grim practice of discharging its power plants’ radioactive water into the open sea. Perhaps an offspring of the recent dispute between the two countries regarding Japan’s recent decision to discharge Fukushima’s radioactive water, this exposure may actually benefit the Koreans. Granted that reports are accurate, Koreans now have a chance to uncover the broadly hushed up practice of disseminating radioactive waste. There is an international organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), that promotes such shady practice to minimize public awareness of the dangers of nuclear waste. But that fundamental problem aside, Koreans now have a chance to take leadership in a global movement against nuclear plants.
Japan’s radioactive water treatment is cost-effective, compared to tremendous environmental impact.
Apart from this dispute, the problem of radioactive water from Fukushima nuclear power plant is serious. The Japanese government has already confessed that it failed to lower radioactive concentration, even though it used three Multi-nuclide Removal Equipment (hereinafter ALPS) in 2018. In addition, Japan foresaw such a failure in 2013 and has feigned innocence so far. The radiation risk of 14C which has a half-life of 5700 years is dangerous. And the radioactive risk of tritium(3H) which may be transformed into organic compound by photosynthesis is likely to be fatal. The half-life of general tritium is 10 days. But half-life of tritium in organic compound is prolonged up to 40 days or one year. Then tritium becomes fatal to living organism. To make it worse, it was admitted that 72% of the ‘processed water’ should be reprocessed, which was claimed to have been processed free of radioactive contamination. What is ‘processing’? Japanese Government is using same word, tritium, for both countries in order to conceal its failed processing. There is a lot of nuclides that can not be treated with ALPS. But Japanese Government focuses on tritium, and disparages “Your nuclear power plants discharge tritium too.”
The estimated cost of treatment is about 33 billion yen, according to a Japanese civilian expert, which is the cost of reducing radiation to 1/1000 by long-term storage of 123 years. To build a storage tank, any land that is not used may be borrowed. It’s a cost problem. Some argue that it will cost 100 billion yen a year, and supportive media insist that total cost may be several trillion yen. The basis for this kind of estimation may be doubtful. Even so, the cost of long-term storage of contaminated water is ‘a drop in the bucket’ compared to the impact that would pollute the entire ocean of the Earth and make mankind nervous.
Could this kind of degenerated decision-making by the Japanese government come from normal mental state? It is not an inevitable choice without other alternatives, but rather a disregard for other alternatives. Such an intentional choice is a crime that destroys public value. It will make a precedent for international community if we stand by and watch such a regressive decision. History repeats itself. They will keep committing crime. It should be stopped for the sake of Japanese descendants as well. There is a big difference between knowing and not-knowing the crime. There is no hope for mankind if an advanced country like Japan is not stopped from a crime toward mankind. Bystanders become accomplice in crime when they look on.
A bigger problem exists within UN. What is the identity of IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) that has raised Japan’s hand without knowing the reality of radioactive water? IAEA is suspicious whenever problems of nuclear power plant come on stage. I remember that IAEA calmly approved the extension of lifetime of old Kori No.1 plant and Wolseong No. 1 plant in Korea. IAEA was established three years later at United Nations General Assembly in 1953 by suggestion of President of the United States. Unlike other UN organizations, it is an autonomous body which has its own charter and board of directors. Unlike other specialized organizations of the United Nations, it does not belong to UN in format.
IAEA is suspicious
IAEA is an organization that promotes the use of nuclear power. It is an international organization which was established in order to support the peaceful use of nuclear power and the monitoring of nuclear non-proliferation. It is beyond expectation for IAEA to approve the release of radioactive water from nuclear power plants in Japan. If an international organization monitors the release of radioactively polluted water, it would be a common sense for the organization to take a precautionary position because of radioactive danger. U.N. is more suspicious. There is no department within United Nations that deals with nuclear and radioactive risks. Nuclear issues are left to the IAEA, which is basically an organization to promote nuclear power. Isn’t it weird?
What is IAEA? It is a meeting place of capital force and various power groups derived from it. The good natured intelligence may be found within IAEA. However, IAEA disclosed its incompetence in the field of monitoring and controlling the radioactive emissions from nuclear power plants. The only contribution of IAEA was to prevent nuclear fission materials from being used for military purposes. The IAEA has never questioned the tritium emissions of nuclear power plants in Korea and other countries which Japanese government is arguing about. It is only Japanese government which insists that such an incompetent organization is credible.
Even if Chernobyl blows up, Fukushima blows up, everything remains unchanged. We can’t delegate safety of the Earth to such an organization which showed lopsided incompetence. It is just like to ‘let the fox guard the hen house’. There is a large hole in safety system of the global community.
How do we understand the situation to let IAEA estimate the safety of radiation? How do we understand the media to report the words of IAEA without verification? American government officials go further than IAEA. It is hard to expect refrain from United States which used nuclear weapons and spread nuclear power plants to the world. Now U.S. controls IAEA as perpetrator.
It is as if National Assembly selected by the people would establish a ‘separate high-level organization’ regardless of the will of the people, and let the high-level organization make dangerous decisions which threaten national stability. We meet the same situation. If the people raise a radiational issue to National Assembly, National Assembly tosses it to separate high-level organization.
The benefit and danger of civilization is like a double-edged sword. There are always shortcomings behind convenience, and proper check and balance are necessary. However, there are no check and balance in the management of nuclear power plants and danger of radioactivity. UN is the right organization which has such a monitoring function. But UN has delegated this monitoring function to IAEA which seeks promotion of atomic generation of electricity.
The structure of U.N. needs to be reorganized
What is alternative approach to polluted water problem? It is temporarily possible for Security Council which deals with safety issues such as war-prevention within UN organization to intervent. The Security Council is the most important organization in United Nations and starting basis of present UN. In common, permanent members of Security Council have nuclear weapons in huge number. They are global gangsters in other words. Nuclear power and nuclear radiation are essentially sub-class of nuclear weapon, Nuclear power comes from nuclear technology which derives electricity from nuclear weapons. The superpowers have been blind to dangers of nuclear power. Is it possible for Security Council to restrict properly the nuclear weapons and nuclear power? The answer is unknown.
The more essential possibility is that mankind unites and creates a ‘new UN’. Just like father and mother in one family, it is possible for the people on the Earth to make a new UN in order to ensure the safety of the global community. The new UN may be in a symmetrical position with the present UN. The new UN may be compared to ARMY of BTS fans in SNS era. The new UN may complement and/or check present UN which has shortcomings.
The United Nations is now under control of the United States, which has shown numbness at time of first dropping of atomic weapon. US is now numb regarding danger of radioactive emission in nuclear power plants. US is a country that has steadily exported nuclear power plants even though it has conducted numerous nuclear tests in its territory. Moreover US has experienced a disaster which is called Three Mile Island nuclear accident. What would happen to the Earth if the value system of US spread over the global village without checking?
In 1951, the San Francisco Treaty of Peace abandoned Japan’s legal right to claim compensation for war damage caused by US attacks. But Koreans were not included in the sufferer who has abandoned compensation right. Even Supreme Court of Japan approved this fact. The United States, however, has never been responsible for the Korean victims and their descendants who are suffering for life.
Both people and countries don’t change easily. Similar behavior comes from similar situation. The U.S. comments on the issue of radioactive emission was ridiculous. The U.S. is absolutely global superpower. The internal balance of American public values has global impact which was seen in Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Convention. The American behavior regarding Fukushima radioactive emission must be questioned. A kitchen knife cannot carve its own handle. Korean people must ask the U.S. to implement the 70-years-old treaty. We must make it clear.
We must urge the United States to implement the San Francisco Treaty
The ball is now in South Korea’s court. South Korea is geographically surrounded by China and Russia. South Korea is in good position to expand the range of solidarity among three countries up to Taiwan and North Korea. South-East Asian countries such as Philippines and Vietnam may also participate in the solidarity. Japan should be sanctioned. Even if we do not resort to international law or maritime law, united public opinion of related countries will be overwhelming. The best way to oppress “rebels to identify the ranking of power” is firmness. Since many Japanese are against emission of polluted water in Fukushima, we need to give courage to them.
In addition, if China and Russia take part in this solidarity, it will make a precedent. Both countries would not build maritime nuclear power plants any more, and would not try secret dumping of nuclear waste into the sea arbitrarily. To implement the treaty ignored for 70 years, the U.S. assembly is obliged to intervene. Then public opinion in U.S. may change direction. The UN and IAEA could not solve nuclear problems at international level so far. Taking advantage of this opportunity will become a good chance to introduce international rule regarding nuclear power plant problems at global level.
Original Article >> http://www.mediatoday.co.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=213032
(translated by LEE Sanghoon, Yoon Yisang)
Categories: Media Reports