The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) commemorates the fourth anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, which takes place tomorrow. It remembers all those who died as an effect of the earthquake and tsunami in eastern Japan, and the immense environmental, social and economic problems that the destruction of three of the six nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi has brought about.
NFLA welcome two national events commemorating the anniversary here in the UK. Last week, the Heinrich Boll Foundation hosted a day conference – ‘From Fukushima to Hinkley: Dismantling the Nuclear Argument for a Sustainable Energy Future’. This brought leading academics and politicians to understand the implications of the Fukushima disaster and compare the potential negative impacts of new nuclear build at Hinkley Point. (1)
Tonight, NFLA fully supports the official Westminster event commemorating the disaster organised by CND, Kick Nuclear and Japanese Against Nuclear UK. Amongst the speakers will be Michael Meacher MP, Baroness Jones, influential American nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen and independent nuclear policy academics Dr Ian Fairlie and Dr Paul Dorfman. This will outline the problems that still remain four years after the worst nuclear disaster in the global history of nuclear power. (2)
Those problems remain huge, and include:
- By the end of January 2015, there is now 258,300 cubic metres of radioactive waste produced from Fukushima – equivalent to the capacity of about 650 25metre long swimming pools.
- Sensors monitoring a drainage gutter on the Fukushima site detected a radiation spike 70 times (or 7000%) higher than normal levels in late February 2015.
- The site is still generating 400 tons of new radioactively contaminated water every day. There remains real concern that there will soon not be enough available space on the site to continue to build storage tanks for all this waste.
- There remains concern that contaminated water is continuing to leak into the Pacific Ocean.
- According to The Ecologist magazine, the Fukushima Reactor 3 fuel storage pond still contains upwards of 89 metric tons of plutonium-based, mixed-oxide fuel that, should the pond leak or dry up, result in another major reactor meltdown.
- Over 100,000 people evacuated from the area are still living in temporary accommodation and suffering from physical or psychological distress, discrimination and many years waiting for the land to be decontaminated to a point where they can return home. (3)
It is little wonder that on his recent visit to Wales, facilitated by groups like the NFLA, former Japanese Prime Minister at the time of the Fukushima disaster, Naoto Kan said:
The idea of nuclear energy as the cheapest form of energy has been fundamentally overturned. With no solution yet found for dealing with the vast amounts of spent fuel, it cannot be considered clean. When renewable energy sources are so well developed and ready to take the place of nuclear power, investing further in nuclear energy is irresponsible.” (4)
Mr Kan also publicly questioned the development of new nuclear reactors in the UK, particularly at Hinkley Point and Wylfa. NFLA fully agrees with Mr Kan. The finances for new nuclear in the UK simply do not back it up, it is foolhardy to consider developing new radioactive waste streams when no solution has been found to manage existing waste, and with cracks found in a number of nuclear reactors across Europe, there remains real concern of a serious accident to a European nuclear site. (5)
NFLA Chair Councillor Mark Hackett said:
On the fourth anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, and eight weeks before the UK general election, I believe it is essential to urgently start fully pursuing a safe, sustainable and nuclear free future for our energy policy. This disaster has blighted many hard-working communities in Japan, and has cast a shadow over nuclear power across the world. With successful renewable energy solutions rapidly growing, energy storage options reducing issues of renewable energy intermittency, and local government potentially providing an important role in developing nuclear free forms of energy, the best response to this anniversary is to pledge a new energy future for our children. A nuclear free future.”
For more information on this media release please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary on 0161 234 3244 / 07771 930196.
Notes for editors:
(1) Heinrich Boll Foundation, ‘From Fukushima to Hinkley: Dismantling the Nuclear Argument for a Sustainable Energy Future’, 5th March 2015.
(2) CND / Kick Nuclear / JAN Westminster public meeting, ‘The continuing Fukushima disaster, after four years’, 10th March 2015, 7-9pm, House of Commons, Committee Room 9.
Chaired by: Kate Hudson, General Secretary CND
SPEAKERS (In order of speaking):
- Jenny Jones, Baroness Jones of Moulscoomb, will introduce the meeting.
- Arnie Gundersen, nuclear engineer, author and whistleblower: “The Fukushima Disaster.”
- Rik Garfit-Mottram, Kick Nuclear; “Latest Developments at Fukushima.”
- Geoff Read, artist and Fukushima evacuee: “The Children of Fukushima.”
- Ayumi Fukakusa, King’s College, London; member of Friends of the Earth, Japan: “Anti-Nuclear Campaigning in Japan after the Disaster.”
- Dr Ian Fairlie, Independent Consultant on radiation risks: “Health Dangers of Routine Emissions from Nuclear Reactors.”
- Dr Paul Dorfman, Senior Researcher, Energy Institute, UCL: “The Future of Nuclear Power in the UK, with special reference to the situation in regard to Hinkley C.”
- Michael Meacher MP, former Minister of State for the Environment: “The Politics of Nuclear Power in the UK.”
(3) See for example, Western Mail, 7th March 2015
http://www.walesonline.co.uk/whats-on/whats-on-news/fukushima-nuclear-power-tsunami-wylfa-8788727 and Daily Post, 7th March 2015
(4) NFLA Media Release, 25th February 2015
(5) NFLA Media Release, 17th February 2015