Since Meiji period, environmental pollution has accompanied Japan’s industrialization. Water pollution has been a major headache for the country due to factory-emitted water and other chemicals discharged to the ocean and other water bodies by Japan’s vast industries. For instance, massive copper poisoning from the Ashio Copper mine resulted to destruction of over 1600 hectares of farmland in Tochigi towns and villages as flooding water contained tons of copper. Similarly, methylmercury drained form the chemical factory in Minamata city killed over 6500 people as it seeped into the ground contaminating underground water that about eighteen percent of Japanese depends on for daily use. In response to these disasters, Japan’s government tightened environmental laws in a bid to regulate disposal of wastes to water bodies in the country. However, despite the realized improvements, water pollution in Japan, especially underground water pollution has remained an inherent problem that requires attention according to the country’s ministry of environment. Consequently, this paper deliberates on the source and cause of this pollution and policy recommendations that could help mitigate the problem.
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According to United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), much of Japan’s underground water ls contaminated to such levels that render it unusable to all its intended purposes. For example, water from any Japanese city wells needs treatment before pumping to its users. According to the UNEP, there has been accumulation of chemicals, metals, and organic bacteria resulting from landfills seepage, sewage, naturally occurring substances such as metals, and industries. Moreover, the UNEP also reports that there has impairment of over forty percent of California’s underground water. Furthermore, the detected ground water contaminants exceed federal and states applicable standards throughout Japanese Cities. Consequently, the accumulation has had effects on the state of health of Californians’ who depend on this water for their daily use (Dwight, et al 98). The body attributes the health impacts on the time lag that exist between contamination and the discovery of the problem.
According to Japanese Ministry of Environment, leakage of underground septic tank contributes greatly to the pollution of underground water in Japan Cities. In practice, septic tanks contain all types of chemicals and pharmaceutical drugs that people flush down their toilets as well as water. Accordingly, when these tanks leak, water seeps down the pervious underlying rocks eventually ending up in the water trapped in the underlying rocks. As a result, most of the water Japanese rely on becomes contaminated. Seepage from landfills also constitutes a major pollutant of Japan’s underground water. Most of the landfills in Japanese cities carries all types of waste include metals, pharmaceutical, plastics, and decomposable waste. On the vent of rain, water soaks the waste dissolving metals such as lead and phosphorous. With time, this water seeps to the underlying substrata holding underground water (Dwight, et al 98). Consequently, these chemicals accumulate in the underground water resulting into its contamination. Agricultural activities carried out in Japanese irrigation firms also contribute to underground water pollution in California. According to UNEP, most of the firms extensively use fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides in their firms. Fertilizers contains high levels of phosphorous and nitrogen. Moreover, they contain other metals such as calcium that acts as substrates. Accordingly, most of these pollutants seep into the ground during irrigation. Others such as pesticides wash away into rivers eventually seeping into the ground. Resultantly, these chemicals end up in the water underground where they accumulate leading to its pollution. Lastly, industrial point sources constitute a major underground water pollutant in Japanese. Most industrial waste in Japanese is solid (Helperin, 6). As such, means of disposing them proves costly for most industries. As a result, most of them dispose it illegally leading to accumulation of solid waste rich in heavy metals such as lead. With time, these metals dissolve in water after corrosion eventually seeping into the ground. Moreover, the current rapid growth in semiconductor technology in the country poses a major contributor of underground water pollution in Japan. Chemicals such as trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene used to wash and clean integrated circuits are finding its way to Japanese water sources. Overtime, they accumulate in the water underneath leading to pollution.
Instituting polices requiring those found guilty of contributing to underground water pollution, especially for industries, would help address the issue of water pollution in Japanese cities. The policy would help discourage industries from leaving their waste lying idle for a long time without proper disposal. Consequently, it would be possible to avoid pollution from heavy metals that poses the great danger to the health of Japanese people. Moreover, those who their septic tanks found to be leaking should also pay a penalty for polluting underground water. Resultantly, money raised from these fines should go to compensating those undertaking remedy activities. Secondly, there should be policies to harmonize the activities of the agencies managing underground water resources in Japan. Such agencies include UNEP representatives, Ministry of health services, and Ministry of Environment. Subsequently, the scope and quality of their information will improve by standardizing formatting of the gathered data. As result, the information will help aid data informed decision-making while formulating means of eliminating underground water pollution. Furthermore, requiring all municipalities design concrete enhanced landfills may also help preempt underground water pollution in Japanese cities. Since most of the landfills are naturally occurring depressions or manmade holes, they allow free seepage of pollutants (Dwight, et al 108). To mitigate the effects, the relevant authorities should be required to design modern disposal units cemented. As a result, it will be impossible for the contaminants to seep into the ground and consequently polluting the environment. Lastly, instituting civic education on contamination, its causes, and the effects on the health of Japanese is also policy that would help address the issue. If most of the citizens realize that underground water contamination is real, then rthey will be able to support mitigation activities.
The major advantage of the above solutions is that they offer long-lasting solutions. For example, by penalizing polluters, it will create a culture where people and industries avoid polluting the environment. Consequently, subsequent efforts needed to address pollution will be minimal. Secondly, the policies are advantageous as they promote harmony between stakeholders in the fight against underground water pollution. Consequently, there will be less conflict of interest leading to smooth execution of remedial activities. However, the policies high initial cost as the major disadvantage. For example, requiring municipalities put up modern landfills enhanced with concrete might end up costing the taxpayers too much in the initial construction. This is in regard of the size sufficient to hold daily waste.
Ignorance is the major reason behind the failure of the above policies. According to United Nations Council on Environment, most of the Japanese are oblivious of the causes of pollution of the water they drink. In fact, it has been in their minds that underground water is immune of contamination. As a result, most of the agencies tasked with quality of water in Japan have paid little on efforts in addressing underground water pollution in the states. Accordingly, there has been no legislative action geared towards preempting contamination of underground water in the state.
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