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By Staff Reporter : PNG Today

Nuclear waste and World War II relics in Pacific to be highlighted at UN Oceans conference

With the United Nations Oceans Conference set to take place in New York next month, addressing land-based contaminants caused by nuclear testing and derelicts from World II is expected to be highlighted by leaders of the Pacific.

Deputy Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), Christelle Pratt said this is one of the many issues leaders will bring with them to the international fora.

“If we reflect on the Leaders’ communique last year there is a particular paragraph on Marshall Islands and the legacy of nuclear testing as well as World War II relics that are littered throughout the Pacific.

“If you look at the World War wrecks they occur right across the region in Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Palau because the Pacific Ocean and our region were the locations of some fierce World War II battles and decades on, those ship wrecks and World War II wrecks have been disintegrating and they still carry significant amount of fuel and ammunition that could potentially create pollution incidences on the sea floor.

“If we think about World War II relics on land there are some really good examples in Palau, Solomon Islands, Kiribati and other places. There are unexploded ordinances on islands that can impact on how we might use land because of the munitions that are buried and could cause injury to people if they are accidentally mishandled,” Pratt told Journalists at the Regional media and Communications training underway in Nadi this week.

Marshall Islands is calling on the Pacific to stand with them in solidarity as they urge leaders to prioritise healthy oceans.

“In terms of Marshall Islands certainly President Hilda Heine will be raising it as an issue. She has been vocal about it in many of her interventions regionally and internationally. There has been a lot of activities with Marshall Islands students regularly raising how nuclear testing has continued to affect the lives of Marshall Islanders,” said Deputy SG Pratt.

The Marshall Islands Student Association (MISA) at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji has expressed concern about current political inaction towards addressing land-based contaminants in the ocean. This call to action comes in light of widespread suffering still endured by the Marshallese following nuclear testing on Enewatak and Bikini atolls by the U.S during the 1940s and 1950s.

Nuclear testing in the Pacific MISA said has caused countless people in the region to suffer from the effects of radioactive fallout. These include widespread displacement, loss of culture, and serious health issues including high rates of cancer and deformity. More than 70 years on from the first nuclear tests, many islands and atolls remain uninhabitable.

The members of MISA highlighted that there is an inability to address large quantities of plutonium leakage from the dome on Runit Island on Enewatak Atoll, which contains toxic waste left over from the 67 nuclear and thermonuclear bombs tested by the U.S.

MISA has launched a campaign called MISA4thePacific, where Pacific Islanders can submit poetry, dance, art and photos urging for action regarding Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14.1.

SDG 14.1 seeks to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds by 2025, particularly from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution, the implementation of which is to be discussed at the UN conference co-hosted by Fiji and Sweden. SOURCE: PACNEWS

Posted by Staff Reporter : PNG Today on 8:08 PM. Filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Share this Article

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