Mar 11, 2022
Environmental defenders marked the 11th anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster on Friday with fresh demands for a renewable energy-powered future that safeguards both human and planetary health.
"Maintaining nuclear power generation for the purpose of decarbonization is nothing short of a deliberate act of self-imposed harm."
On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 quake struck off the east coast of Japan, generating an enormous tsunami that caused widespread destruction, including crippling the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which suffered a triple meltdown.
Over 18,000 people died in the disaster, with thousands still unaccounted for. Tens of thousands also remain displaced as a result of the world's worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 event at Chernobyl.
"The pain, struggles, and bravery of the people affected by the incident still continue," Greenpeace E.U. said Friday.
"We should never forget them," the group added, "nor allow another disaster like this to happen again."
\u201cThe consequences of the #Fukushima disaster 11 years ago are still with us today.\n\nA sustainable future can only be powered by renewables. They:\n\n\ud83c\udfe1 Empower households and local communities\n\n\u2600\ufe0f Can't be turned off\n\n\ud83c\udfe5 Don\u2019t pose a risk to our health\n\n\u270aEnhance energy independence\u201d— European Greens (@European Greens) 1646992762
While most of Japan's nuclear power plants were shut down over safety concerns and amid public opposition to nukes in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, some lawmakers are calling for a return to atomic energy--a move the campaigners say would be ill-advised.
In a statement marking the 11-year anniversary, Greenpeace Japan executive director Sam Annesley noted that 10 of the country's 59 nuclear reactors have restarted operations. However, he stressed, "maintaining nuclear power generation for the purpose of decarbonization is nothing short of a deliberate act of self-imposed harm."
In addition to highlighting a number of ongoing issues stemming from the 2011 meltdown--from evacuees demanding government compensation to the government's plan to release treated contaminated water from the ill-fated power plant into the ocean--Annesley pointed to recent fears as a result of Russian's invasion of Ukraine as further evidence for why nuclear power cannot be safe.
"While nuclear power plants can generate tremendous amounts of electricity, they also carry unfathomable risks," he said. "Such risks are not only limited to natural disasters and humanitarian crises such as Fukushima, but could also significantly escalate danger during conflicts, such as in the case of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant situation in Ukraine earlier this month."
Friends of the Earth Japan similarly linked Russia's invasion of Ukraine with the inherent risks of nuclear power plants. In a Friday statement, the group said:
One after another, Russian troops are attacking and taking control of nuclear power plants in Ukraine. Needless to say, war is the greatest form of environmental destruction and violation of human rights and totally unacceptable. In addition, attacks on nuclear power plants lead to the spread of radioactive materials, endangering the lives and health of many people for a long time. The risk of nuclear power plants becoming targets of attacks was indicated in the past, and unfortunately this nightmare has now become a reality.
"We stand with the victims, and in solidarity with people around the world who wish for peace, and we have renewed our determination to move forward to realize a peaceful, nuclear-free world," the group declared.
Greenpeace E.U., in its Friday post, also shared cautionary words on nuclear power from an evacuee profiled in "The Lives of Fukushima"--a series of testimonials from 12 people impacted by the disaster.
"On March 11, I crossed the threshold and was forced to leave my old life behind. You, on the other hand, are still living on March 10th, and you have a choice," said Mizue Kanno. "Your March 11th could go one of two ways. Which path will place the smallest burdfen on our children and future generations? As adults, I urge you to think carefully."
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