We must not forget Fukushima

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

“Forgetting Fukushima makes it more likely that such a nuclear disaster could happen elsewhere,” said Tatsuko Okawara, one of the hundreds of thousands of victims of the Fukushima accident that began on March 11, 2011.

The nuclear industry, however, is trying its hardest to make us forget. It is downplaying the impacts of the accident, ignoring the fact that the Fukushima reactors are still not under control and claiming that lessons have been learned. Nothing is further from the truth.

In many countries, the same mistakes are being made that played a role in Fukushima. These are systemic failures linked to the nuclear sector, such as a lack of independent regulators, no accountability, putting profits before the protection of people and insufficient emergency planning.

Decisions are made on the basis of politics and economics, rather than people and their safety. Big companies harvest large profits, while the moment things go wrong, it is the society and people who need to deal with the losses and damages.

Those who are paying for Fukushima are the many thousands of citizens who lost their livelihoods; whose communities and families have been broken up; whose children cannot play outside because radiation levels are too high.

Also paying are the Japanese people whose tax money is being used to deal with the crippled Fukushima reactors and clean-up of the contaminated areas.

The world is still running more than 400 inherently dangerous nuclear reactors and continues to build dozens more. Millions of people are at risk because, as Fukushima has shown, the radioactive contamination does not stop at a distance of 10 or 20 kilometres, which is the border of the officially designated evacuation zones.

Nuclear energy is not a necessary evil, because affordable, safer and cleaner energy solutions exist. They are only a matter of political choice.

That’s why we must not forget Fukushima. We must listen to those who suffer from the accident. We must remember, learn and act to build a better world.

[Abridged from Common Dreams.]

From GLW issue 1001