March 11th, 2021 will be the 10th anniversary of the Fukushima disaster. Following an earthquake and tsunami, three of the five reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant were overwhelmed by seawater and badly damaged, leading to a large radiation release. The incident was the worst nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl accident, and 10 years later huge challenges remain – including over a thousand tanks onsite containing contaminated water that has been used to cool the stricken reactors. Thousands of people evacuated from the incident have still not returned home, and they may never do so. Decommissioning of the site will take many decades to achieve.
The UK & Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) has written today to the Japanese Minister of the Economy, Trade and Industry calling for it not to allow Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) to start dumping the water from the thousand and more storage tanks slowly into the Pacific Ocean. (1)
The NFLA support similar initiatives by a wide range of Japanese groups who are deeply concerned with the likely possibility of contaminated water being dumped into the ocean. The water contains significant amounts of tritium and is likely to also contain small amounts of caesium and strontium. The impact on marine life and coastal populations from dumping the water into the sea is not adequately understood. NFLA believe it is better to build more tanks on wider land and allow the radioactive elements in the water to decay. This will not be a quick process – ten half-lives for tritium is 123 years, meaning there is a key requirement for long-term storage.
NFLA note that the former Japanese Prime Ministers Naoto Kan and Junichiro Koizumi this week urged Japan to stop using nuclear power. They argue Japan should have learned from the Fukushima crisis a decade ago and turned firmly towards renewable energy. It should be noted that both were proponents of nuclear power while in office but became critics following the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
In reference to the tritium-contaminated water on the storage tanks, Mr Koizumi said that plans to release the water into the sea are fiercely opposed by local fishermen and that further research into other options was urgently needed. NFLA completely agree with him. (2)
NFLA, with other groups, have previously facilitated visits to the Welsh Senedd and the Westminster Parliament of former Prime Minister Naoto Kan at which he said the Fukushima nuclear accident had completely changed his mind on the safety of nuclear power. His call for Hitachi to pull put of the Wylfa nuclear site was successful in the company deciding these last few months to pull out of the development.
The Fukushima disaster also created a major energy policy change across Europe, most notably in Germany, which decided to end its nuclear programme and move towards 100% renewables. In addition, Vienna City Council wrote to cities around Europe to work with it to call for no new nuclear facilities, the decommissioning of existing nuclear plants as soon as is practical, and an embrace of renewable energy. Through this initiative was created the Cities for a Nuclear Free Europe (CNFE) network, who NFLA closely work with. NFLA also work with the Graz-created Alliance of Regions for the Phasing-out of Nuclear Power in Europe, which also arose from Austrian regional concerns of the Fukushima incident.
The three groups will be connecting with the Mayors for a Nuclear Power Free Japan network and European NGOs at a special networking meeting and afternoon webinar to consider the ongoing impacts of the Fukushima disaster 10 years on. (3)
NFLA also welcome a recent IPPNW Germany conference on the same issue, whose presentations are on their YouTube website (4). Japanese environmental and anti-nuclear groups are holding a full day conference on the 11th March, some of whose presentations will be in English. (5)
NFLA Steering Committee Chair, Councillor David Blackburn, said:
“The 10th anniversary of the Fukushima disaster reminds us all that there is an inherent risk in nuclear facilities, and when things go wrong the impacts are devastating. Japan has a huge financial burden from the disaster, thousands of people’s lives were heavily impacted by it and there remains many health, safety and environmental challenges in decommissioning the site and determining what to do with the huge levels of both contaminated water and land that the triple meltdown brought about. We believe it is a dangerous and ill-judged decision to consider dumping tritiated water into the Pacific Ocean and support the deep concerns of two former Japanese Prime Ministers, many environmental groups and a large amount of the Japanese public on this matter. This confirms again NFLA’s view that the safest way forward in delivering a net zero energy policy is to develop a wide renewable energy mix, underpinned by energy storage, energy efficiency, local decentralised energy and smart energy solutions.”
Ends. For more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)7771 930196.
Notes to Editors:
(1) The text of the NFLA letter to the Japanese Government will be placed on its website with this media release.
(2) The Mainichi, March 1st 2021
(3) CNFE Fukushima webinar supported by the Vienna Institute of Ecology, March 12th, 2021 –
a) Situation in Fukushima today – 12:15 – 13:30 GMT
- Greenpeace International, Jan van de Putte: “The current situation in Fukushima”
- Mayors for a Nuclear Power Free Japan network:
1) Former Mayor Sakurai Katsunobu of Minamisoma on his first-hand experience of the disaster and its ongoing impacts
2) The network’s Secretary General Sato Kazuo (himself the former Mayor of Koganei in the west of Tokyo), on the overall activities of the network, the situation of emergency measures such as evacuation plans, overall Japanese situation etc.
b) Impacts of a nuclear accident on the city and the region – 13:45-16:00 GMT
- Emergency zones and iodine prophylaxis: Results from the ‘flexRISK’ project which shows the fallouts from the nuclear power plants on the affected regions in Europe (Gabriele Mraz, Austrian Institute of Ecology).
- Panel Discussion on preparedness of cities: Representatives from of cities or regions will discuss the situation in nuclear emergency management.
For further details contact Jan Dictus of CNFE – firstname.lastname@example.org
(4) Presentations from the IPPNW Conference on ‘Fukushima – 10 Years On’ can be watched at the following website –
(5) Global Conference for a Nuclear Free, Renewable Energy Future 10 Years Since Fukushima, March 11th, 2021 –