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Greenpeace exposes high radiation risks in Fukushima village as govt prepares to lift evacuation order
www.greenpeace.org

Greenpeace exposes high radiation risks in Fukushima village as govt prepares to lift evacuation order

India Blooms News Service | | 21 Feb 2017, 11:05 pm
Tokyo/ New Delhi, Feb 21 (IBNS) The Japanese government will soon lift evacuation orders for 6,000 citizens of Iitate village in Fukushima prefecture where radiation levels in nearby forests are comparable to the current levels within the Chernobyl 30km exclusion zone – an area that more than 30 years after the accident remains formally closed to habitation.

Seventy-five percent of Iitate is contaminated forested mountains, a Greenpeace statement claimed..

A survey team led by Greenpeace Japan recently found radiation dose rates at houses in the village of Iitate well above long-term government targets, with annual and lifetime exposure levels posing a long-term risk to citizens who may return. Evacuation orders will be lifted for Iitate no later than March 31, 2017, to be followed one year later by the termination of compensation payments.

“The relatively high radiation values, both inside and outside houses, show an unacceptable radiation risk for citizens if they were to return to Iitate. Citizens returning to their irradiated homes are at risk of receiving radiation equivalent to one chest X-ray every week. This is not normal or acceptable,” said Ai Kashiwagi, energy campaigner with Greenpeace Japan .

As Japan nears the six year anniversary of the nuclear disaster, the Japanese government last week confirmed that it has not yet conducted any assessments of lifetime exposure risks for citizens if they were to return to Iitate.

“Recent reports suggest that the cost of cleaning up of Fukushima plant would cost more than 12lakh crores. If a developed country like Japan, known for its processes and systems, is finding it too difficult to handle the disaster, it makes little sense for India to  go ahead and sign up for four more reactors at Kudankulam and elsewhere. In the words of George Santania ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," says G. Sundarrajan of Poovulagin Nanbargal.

“Life can never go back to normal for people living near nuclear power plants. But clearly, the world has failed to learn its lessons from nuclear accidents like those in Chernobyl and Fukushima. India, for instance, seems determined to add on to its nuclear power capacity despite putting the lives of millions of people at risk,” says Nandikesh Sivalingam, climate and energy campaigner, Greenpeace India.

The fact remains that nuclear power is neither safe nor economical, and that India is grossly ill-prepared to handle a nuclear disaster. This was pointed out by Red Alert, a Greenpeace India report that released last year.

Last year’s Indo-Japan nuclear deal also negated the lessons learnt from Fukushima.

The deal to buy six AP1000 reactors was more of a last ditch effort to save Westinghouse/Toshiba from imminent meltdown. Now, after the meltdown, the future of the six nuclear reactors has put a question mark on the economic viability of nuclear power. It’s reported that the cost of building these six reactors will be three to six times greater than the cost of building a solar photovoltaic plant of the same capacity.

It should also be noted that India is currently in a situation of ‘surplus power’ witnessing massive installed overcapacity in the  electricity sector. With the solar tariffs going down to record low levels, India’s energy needs for the next ten years can be fulfilled by cleaner and safer sources of energy in the form of solar and wind.

Greenpeace India stand by the victims of Fukushima who are being forced to return to the accident site for economic reasons. India must learn  from the Fukushima disaster and its long lasting impacts on people’s lives and livelihoods and move away permanently from highly risky and economically unviable nuclear energy to safer, greener and cheaper energy sources like solar and wind.

Greenpeace has launched a public petition  in solidarity with the Fukushima survivors campaigning for the restitution/protection of their human rights.