Pacific church leaders want action over Fukushima nuclear waste
Pacific Conference of Churches calls for action over nuclear waste from Fukushima pouring into the Pacific.
The Pacific Conference of Churches says regional leaders must urgently revive calls for a nuclear-free Pacific.
The PCC call comes amid revelations by the Japanese government that radioactive waste from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has been leaking into the Pacific Ocean for two years.
The PCC's general secretary, the Reverend Francois Pihaatae, says Pacific churches have for nearly four decades consistently called for a nuclear-free Pacific and they renew this call today.
He says Japan has a moral responsibility to keep the region informed of what is happening with the waste and what is being done to contain the seepage.
Reverend Pihaatae, who is French Polynesian, draws parallels with the French territory's failure to properly deal with the impact of nuclear tests there. He spoke to Don Wiseman.
FRANCOIS PIHAATAE: I'm coming from one of the countries where nuclear tests have been [happening] for more than 30 years now, in Tahiti. And that issue has not been really taken seriously by our local government. But the impact and the damage that the nuclear waste will do upon our people in the Pacific, because it's leaking and it will be spreading all over our ocean. Most of the fishing companies from Japan and Asia and Europe are coming in our reserves to pull and to fish and to take our tuna. But if that nuclear waste and radioactivity is expanding or leaking and going all around the Pacific, I don't know what will be the result on the fisheries and the impact of all those fish that will be resent to the Pacific and to our people in the rest of the world to consume.
DON WISEMAN: You want governments to act, but what do you want them to do? I guess there's not a great deal they can do now.
FRANCOIS PIHAATAE: For the government, I think there are different levels to address the issues, like addressing the issues in Japan. I think that's a level of the government that's a high level of government. For the churches, the action is to raise awareness around the Pacific people in the region. But this new programme coming up and new challenges facing our people in the Pacific, that's the movement and the action that we call upon both at the level of government to deal with government and from the churches to deal with churches at the grassroots level.
DON WISEMAN: And you would like to see this new Pacific organisation, the Pacific Islands Development Forum, take a lead role.
FRANCOIS PIHAATAE: Yeah, because it's our government. We recognise the power they have where they are elected to protect our people. That's why we put our confidence in this forum to take the lead in addressing issues and challenges our people are facing today. We have really great confidence in those leaders we have in the Pacific and also to recognise their potential to do something for our people. That's why we put out the statement, especially regarding this emerging issue on nuclear waste.
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