The UK & Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) were delighted to cooperate with its European and Japanese partner groups, and it also welcomed American partners to a special conference which considered the state of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power reactors, a decade after three of them melted down.
A special web-based networking meeting and conference was held on the 12th March organised by the Vienna-based Cities for a Nuclear Free Europe (CNFE) network in association with the Austrian Institute of Ecology. (1) This network was established as a result of the Fukushima disaster – the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.
A networking meeting allowed CNFE to meet with senior representatives from NFLA and the Upper Austria Lander-founded Alliance of Regions for the Phasing-out of Nuclear Power in Europe. The three groups include some of the largest cities and regions across the continent and within the UK and Ireland. The meeting agreed areas of future cooperation to support no new nuclear facilities on the continent, the phasing out of aging nuclear reactors and the promotion of renewable energy alternatives.
An afternoon webinar focused on the state of the Fukushima site 10 years after an earthquake and tsunami overwhelmed the reactors, leading to meltdown of three of them. It was opened by Jürgen Czernohorszky, the Executive City Councillor for Climate, Environment, Democracy and Personnel of Vienna and Chair of Cities for Nuclear Free Europe. A keynote presentation was provided by Shaun Burnie of Greenpeace Japan.
Greenpeace Japan’s recent report highlighted the attempts by Japanese authorities to decontaminate the ‘Special Decontamination Area’ around Fukushima. The report argues this work has been inadequate, with an average of just 15% of the area being ‘cleaned’ to safe levels of radiation. This puts many of those who have returned to the area being placed at a health risk. The report is also concerned over unrealistic decommissioning plans for the site, believing it will be almost impossible to remove everything off the site over the next 30 – 40 years. The report puts forward practical ways to protect further leakage into the Pacific Ocean of contaminated water from the site.
Also speaking with representatives from the Mayors for a Nuclear Power Free Japan network, including the former Mayor Sakurai Katsunobu of Minamisoma, one of the towns close to the Fukushima Daiichi most affected by the disaster. He outlined the real problems that occurred after the disaster and the lack of guidance from the Japanese Government or nuclear authorities. He outlined attempts to allow people back to the area over the last few years and the recent damage in the area with another earthquake just a few weeks ago. Kazuo Sato, the Chair of the network, outlined how they were trying to influence and challenge Japanese policy to move away from nuclear power and towards renewable energy.
The second half of the webinar considered nuclear safety and emergency planning issues in Europe -one of the focal responses following the disaster. Gabriele Mraz from the Austrian Institute of Ecology highlighted its innovative ‘flexRISK’ database which considers the impacts should a nuclear disaster occur in Europe in terms of how radioactive elements could spread depending on weather formations.(2) CNFE Lead Officer David Reinberger and NFLA Secretary Sean Morris outlined how nuclear emergency planning regulations changed as a result of Fukushima in Austria and the UK. Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear USA also noted recommendations made by the American Thyroid Association which have not been fully taken up by US nuclear regulators. Their ‘Scientific Statement on the Use of Potassium Iodide (KI) Ingestion in a Nuclear Emergency’ called for the pre-distribution and stockpiling of KI within Emergency Planning Zones at all U.S. nuclear power plants. They suggest in the distance of 0 to 10 miles from the nuclear power plants there should be pre-distribution by direct delivery of KI to all residents; and from 10 to 50 miles there should be strategic stockpiling KI in schools, hospitals, police and fire stations. (3)
The webinar agreed the networks would put together a joint letter on these matters to go to European authorities and the IAEA. The Alliance of Regions is also planning a major study on the Euratom Treaty which will be published next month.
NFLA Steering Committee Chair, Councillor David Blackburn, said:
“I warmly welcome the continuing close cooperation between the NFLA, CNFE, the Alliance of Regions and the Mayors for a Nuclear Power Free Japan, along with strong connections with the European and North American NGO networks on these issues. The Fukushima disaster brought many cities and regions together concerned about the impact of this nuclear accident and the need for real change in Europe. Whilst Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Belgium have moved towards the phasing out of nuclear power in their states, others like the UK still stubbornly fixate on new nuclear as a part of the answer to the climate emergency. NFLA will continue to work with its European and Japanese partners for the phasing out of nuclear power in favour of renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy storage. By working together, we are stronger. Fukushima was a reminder of the environmental catastrophe that can take place when nuclear power plants meltdown. We must work together to ensure no such incidents take place again.”
Ends. For more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)7771 930196.
Notes to Editors:
(1) For a link to the presentations from the CNFE organized webinar go to –
(3) Beyond Nuclear