*Agree that Japan has alternatives to planned disposal means
By IKENNA EMEWU
It was a day of brainstorm and vast interaction of experts from Nigeria, Hong Kong and US Saturday as they weighed in on the plan of Japan to dump 1.25 million metric tons of contaminated radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean for 40 years.
They all agreed that Japan if allowed to carry out the planned 40 straight years of contamination of the oceans with the Fukushima toxic water, the whole world would be exposed to a long term backlash of the cumulative negative impact. The only way to stop the impending disaster is for the international community to prevail on Japan never to go on with the plan, the said.
At a virtual conference anchored by the Green Earth, an environmental platform of the Africa China Economy Magazine and Online, the 12 experts from the academia, media, environmental NGOs, rights activism and more, who delivered papers discussed and charted out alternatives to the course of action Japan anticipates.
While some of them said it was a lazy way out by Japan, a country known for the most advanced technologies to come this lame that the only way to dispose of the Fukushima waste, a sequel to the devastating earthquake and attendant tsunami in 2011, others challenged them to see other means.
In the keynote address by the Chancellor of the Gregory University, Uturu Abia State, Prof. Gregory Ibe, he expressed his worry that Japan in the plan doesn’t seem to think of the breaches it would have committed in the treaties and protocols on a safer world and the seas.
He advised that Japan should as a matter of fact and duty, consider the larger effect of the action on other nations of the world and the possibility of countries taking legal actions to compel Japan to adhere to their international obligation for a safer world.
The academic recalled the Koko toxic waste dump in Niger Delta region of Nigeria in 1988 by two Italian firms and the deaths, illnesses and devastation the action caused Nigeria.
Ibe also argued that Nigeria, will be a major victim for having a shoreline of about 800km from Calabar to Badagry and with six of the 36 states of the country by the sea and the country’s economy depending om maritime and offshore oil exploration. He challenged Nigerian experts and the government to speak up and take all necessary actions to persuade Japan to drop the plan.
Also, Mr. Ray Yuting, Head of Research, Greenpeace East Asia who joined the two and half hours conference from Hong Kong said Japan has other means, but it has settled for or preferred to discharge the contaminated water into the ocean.
Interestingly, Yuting has been to Fukushima five times since the tsunami devastation and done extensive work on investigation by radiation monitoring measurements and taking samples in various kinds in Fukushima
He revealed that about 160,000 local people of Fukushima Prefecture directly affected were evacuated and many have not returned to their native places for certain reasons.
Some of the reasons for their estrangement for 10 years include the safety of their lands for human habitation as a result of radioactive leakage pollution from the nuclear plant and also the inability to provide means of rebuilding their world.
He said no doubt, Fukushima is a crisis already there, and while Japan has a duty to find a means of doing away with the waste, but it should rethink dumping it in the sea because of the cumulative impacts. He warned that should Japan take this option, it would have opened the way for other countries of the world to follow suit and that would be damaging and has been what Greenpeace is working hard through proactive campaigns to stop from happening.
“It is by all means that Japan should place the common marine environment interest and human health in priorities, and work together with the international community to find a feasible solution for the crisis” Mr. Yuting said.
In his intervention, Mr. Louis Achi, a seasoned journalist said the earth is the only habitable planet and Japan together with the world must safeguard it by stopping the dumping. He quoted popular American astronomer, Carl Sagan who in relation to the earth’s safety lamented that today, extinction has become the rule for man while survival has been relegated to the exception.
He also challenged Japan to think of alternatives to the dumping plan.
For Prof. Chidi Onuoha, Japan as a world major tech powerhouse that has reduced every human activity to AI base, it doesn’t sound elevating that it still sees waste in the Fukushima.
“The earthquake that caused the destruction of Fukushima is regrettable natural incident for which the world sympathizes with Japan, but that country is the world technology innovation hub in addition to China and the US. Japan also knows that the bedrock of green economy today is conversion of waste. Waste is no longer waste, so they should be challenged to think more creatively like they are known for because dumping the waste in the sea is not an alternative at all as the ripple effects would be alarming.”
Dr. Robert Obioha, journalist and chairman of the Editorial Board of The Sun Newspaper wondered why the enlightened and educated world would not learn from the traditional societies on conservation and safety of the world. He tasked Japan and the whole world where unwholesome acts against environmental safety has become the greatest danger to rethink.
He drew instances from his own local world where the people rejected even synthetic fertilizers in preference for organic manure in their farms, kept sacred groves and totems as means of preserving the ecosystem. He argued that a world and generation that boasts of education and advancement should rather do more. “Even Japanese traditional societies, I am sure had theirs and we need to tap into such ancient wisdom to save ourselves rather than endangering the whole world with this planned dump.”
Dr. Chinonye Ekwueme-Ugwu of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka saw it from a literary perspective and situated the issue of recklessness against the environment as a psyche that needs deeper introspection to correct. She reasoned that an attitude that makes people knowing the wrong from the right to steadily abuse the environment from the domestic to the industrial level calls for deeper thinking. She advocated a larger duty of sensitization among the people to care more about their world.
Mrs. Oluwatobi Williams-Adebayo, pharmacist and activist in waste recycling thinks in line with her mantra of turning waste to wealth and advised that Japan should suspend the plan and rather embrace alternative ways of disposal that are creative and friendly to the environment. She gave instances of her efforts in training children to convert waste items to materials of value and use and tasked the world to re-order the attitude to waste disposal and pollution generation.
to Mr. Washington Uba, the issues go beyond just Japan to the larger industrial worlds most of who are ready to attend roundtables, draw up plans and execute deeds on environmental safety duty would be the first to renege and work against the treaties in their unconscionable activities that have no regard for the benefits of the larger world. He lamented that Africa and the less industrialized worlds are at the receiving end and need to do something to save the earth.
He cited in regret, the instance of a documentary a popular global TV ran that indicted the major multinational oil corporations for instance, that in the open speak against pollution, but pay and mandate experts to conduct researches that come up with false conclusions that try to teach otherwise to justify their reckless businesses and actions which undermine safety. He said such actions are quite discouraging and counter productive, urging the world, especially the industrial giants on sincerity of purpose.
The anchor, Ikenna Emewu, Coordinator of the Green Earth tasked the world to think about the economic and other setback the world that is yet to recover from the global pandemic of 2020 would suffer if the toxic waste dump into the ocean is not stopped.
He said Japan being the third world largest economy should act with caution because the action would plunge the world deeper in economic and environmental calamities.
“In the immediate neighbourhood of Japan is China that is the second world largest economy and highest exporter or goods which also contributes 20% to global GDP. South Korea, an OECD nation, and also Russia are all in the same axis and suxh pollution would impact them directly and immediately. The action would deal the global economy a deadly blow if not stopped. The world needs to rise and compel Japan not to go ahead with the plan, especially as many countries of the world with such wastes would extenuate the recklessness against our world. Nobody would be safe. Not even one.”