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'You Profit, We Pay': Greenpeace Launches Global Campaign Against Nuclear Industry

Jon Queally

If the global nuclear industry is to reap the rewards and profits from its energy production, says Greenpeace, it must also be made to pay for the consequences of its disasters when they inevitably occur.

Launching a new global campaign to tighten regulations on the world's nuclear companies, the international environmental groups says that the sad and ongoing Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in Japan should prove once and for all that the benefits of atomic power favor the utility companies while the costs from meltdowns and accidents are shouldered by the public.

“The Fukushima disaster exposes the shameful defects in a system that only requires nuclear operators to pay a fraction of the costs of a disaster and does not require suppliers of reactors to pay anything,” said Aslihan Tumer, Greenpeace International nuclear campaigner.

“The consequences of this unfair system, that has left hundreds of thousands in Japan without proper compensation, could be repeated anywhere in the world since the nuclear industry is not held accountable for its failures.”

“The consequences of this unfair system, that has left hundreds of thousands in Japan without proper compensation, could be repeated anywhere in the world since the nuclear industry is not held accountable for its failures.”

The international campaign follows on the heels of a new report commissioned by the group entitled Fukushima Fallout: Nuclear business makes people pay and suffer, which details the serious flaws in nuclear regulations worldwide. Campaigners are focused on pushing changes in Canada, the US, France, and certainly Japan, but Greenpeace views the issue as one intrinsically global.

"Every business around the world as well as all technologies have certain levels of risk when it comes to accidents," Tumer said at press conference in Tokyo. "However, it's only the nuclear industry that can avoid this risk despite the large, long-term and trans-boundary impacts that these accidents cause."

Among other aspects, Greenpeace says that companies that design and often build nuclear reactors—including GE, Toshiba and Hitachi—are often legally shielded from liability for accidents involving their plants. Instead, as has been proved in Japan, taxpayers—including those forced to evacuate their homes—will end up paying the bulk of the costs of the disaster.

Greenpeace said only India, Russia and South Korea have legislation under which nuclear plant suppliers are held liable in the event of a disaster.

Ultimately, Greenpeace calls for the abandonment of all nuclear power plants. "Yet, if there is another major nuclear accident," they argue, at least "people could be given better protection if we hold the nuclear industry fully accountable and liable."

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