As photos of the explosion in the Fukushima Daiichi station reactor No. 1, just 170 miles north of Tokyo, went around the world on Saturday, 60,000 people in Germany joined hands to call for a shutdown of all nuclear plants – now.
Their human chain spanned the 45 km (28 mile) distance between one of the country’s older (1976) nukes at Neckarwestheim and the regional capital Stuttgart. They were identifying with all those affected in Japan and beyond, and looking forward to voting out the pro-nuclear government in their state, Baden-Württemberg, on March 27th. (See a slide show of the human chain action.)
Two weeks earlier I joined 10,000 others in one of the 'rehearsal’ chain actions held in 40 cities to prepare for this big day (slide show here). But participation this Saturday was greater than expected, as people responded to the situation in Japan. Now, writing at mid-day Sunday, March 13, I and others here, as world-wide, hold our collective breaths, waiting for news on two other Japanese reactors in the most affected areas. Will there be a catastrophic melt-down? Or rather, another one?
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Six weeks before the 25th anniversary of the catastrophic accident at Chernobyl, remembered here by many who were children then, citizen awareness is high, and goes beyond the immediate “will we be affected?”.
The government assures people that fallout from Fukushima will be slight by the time it reaches central Europe. But the quake’s real reverberations and aftershocks are felt here by all who have long opposed atomic power – in some communities for 30+ years – and a new youth and popular movement opposing recently-approved extensions of German reactors’ operating licenses. For them, for us all, this accident can only mean a rapid end to this dangerous so-called ‘bridge’ technology. One that is actually blocking rather than bridging the necessary transition to a 100% renewable energy future.