DARREN CROTHERS AGAINST RNZ
Case Number: 3365
Council Meeting: DECEMBER 2022
Decision: No Grounds to Proceed
Principle: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance
Balance, Lack Of
On 28 November 2022, RNZ ran a story on its website headlined: Uniting to oppose Japanese plan to dump nuclear waste in Pacific. It covered the Nuclear Connections Across Oceania conference, and a statement issued afterwards where activists and academics expressed concern about Japanese plans to dump nuclear waste from a damaged nuclear power plant in the Pacific Ocean.
Darren Crothers complained that the article was unbalanced because he said there were plenty of studies by reputable scientists that the tritium that would be released from the wastewater had radioactivity levels so low that it would cause no problems.
RNZ replied that the report covered the conference proceedings and did not purport to be a comprehensive review of the issue of dumping nuclear waste in the Pacific. RNZ was entitled to rely on the views of experts such as Duncan Currie, the international law expert who advised the conference that it was "completely unacceptable" that Japan had not considered the impacts or conducted baseline studies of such waste dumping.
The complaint was considered under Principle (1) Accuracy, Fairness and Balance which states in part: “Exceptions may apply for long-running issues where every side of an issue or argument cannot reasonably be repeated on every occasion." The Media Council considers that RNZ was within its rights to report the proceedings of the conference where a range of academics and activists were reported as being concerned about the proposed dumping and not go looking for an alternative view. The conference and the statement issued were a new development in what is a long-running issue where every side of the issue does not have to be covered in every story. No principles were breached.
Decision: There were insufficient grounds to proceed.