Amsterdam, March 7, 2012 – Just days before Japan marks the anniversary of March 11, 2011 tsunami and the nuclear disaster that followed, leaders from more than 50 organisations and prominent individuals from all around the world today released an open letter to world leaders calling for investments in safe, renewable energy in order to end to the threat of nuclear power and put protecting people ahead of protecting the nuclear industry. (1)
The signatories include: Archbishop Dr. Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate; Marina Silva, former Brazilian Environment Minister; Senator Bob Brown, Australian Green Party Leader; John Hall, former US Congressman; Richard Harvey, international Human Rights lawyer; several artists; leaders of human rights, labour, development and environment organisations, such as Action Aid International, Health Care without Harm, Greenpeace International, Friends of the Earth US, CIVICUS, the Feminist Task Force of the Global Call to Action against Poverty, and many national non-governmental organisations.
The letter begins: “On behalf of the millions of people in the world who live with the threat of a nuclear disaster ruining their lives, we are writing to ask you to recognize that now is the time to put people ahead of the nuclear industry and hold the industry fully liable for the risks and damages of its disasters. It is time to remove the risks of nuclear from people’s lives and shift our economies to clean, safe energy systems.”
The impacts of the nuclear disaster at Fukushima continue for hundreds of thousands in Japan. They are exposed to radioactive contamination, displaced from their homes, dislocated from their communities, have lost their jobs and live with the ongoing fear that their children may suffer from the long-term effects of radiation exposure. This kind of suffering would be repeated in any country where there is a nuclear disaster.
The letter notes that the Fukushima nuclear disaster was a result of the failure of institutions in Japan to protect people from such an accident. These institutional failures are repeated in every country with nuclear reactors, putting millions at risk, because governments “are more concerned about protecting the profits of the nuclear industry than in fulfilling their responsibility to protect people.”
Greenpeace will send the open letter to world leaders to encourage them to remove the risks of nuclear power from the world.
Greg McNevin, Greenpeace International Communications,
firstname.lastname@example.org, +81 80 5416 6507
Brian Blomme, Greenpeace International Communications,
email@example.com, +31 06 1883 0281
Greenpeace International Press Desk Hotline, Amsterdam +31 2 0718 2470
1) Link to the open letter to world leaders: www.greenpeace.org/fukushima-open-letter
Open letter to: World leaders
Subject: The risks of nuclear reactors
7 March 2012
On behalf of the millions of people in the world who live with the threat of a nuclear disaster ruining their lives, we are writing to ask you to recognize that now is the time to put people ahead of the nuclear industry and hold the industry fully liable for the risks and damages of its disasters. It is time to remove the risks of nuclear from people’s lives and shift our economies to clean, safe
The earthquake and tsunami that devastated the east coast of Japan almost a year ago exposed the serious failures in the system for regulating nuclear reactors and for protecting people from nuclear accidents.
Tens of thousands died as a result of the destruction of the earthquake and tsunami. Hundreds of thousands continue to suffer from their impacts and also from the nuclear disaster that followed.
Our thoughts remain with all those affected by these disasters.
The main lesson from the Fukushima nuclear disaster is that the significant failure of the institutions that were supposed to protect people from such an accident in fact enabled it. Years before the disaster, the risks of earthquakes and tsunamis were well known. Yet, the nuclear industry and its regulators chose to ignore the dangers.
The first to suffer from their negligence were first responders such as plant workers and firefighters who risked their health and even their lives to reduce the radiation risks for others.
Despite their efforts, more than 150,000 people have been forced to leave areas with the highest levels of radiation — losing their homes, communities and livelihoods. Many more still live in contaminated areas including pregnant women and children who are more vulnerable to the effects of radiation exposure.
The overall costs of the Fukushima accident, including compensation and decommissioning the Daiichi plant’s six reactors, have been projected to reach $500 to $650 billion US dollars.
Japanese law makes a nuclear operator fully liable for all the costs of a disaster, but in practice the Japanese people will end up paying almost all of the costs out of their taxes, not the nuclear industry.
The mistakes in Japan are repeated in every country in the world with nuclear reactors. No reactor is safe, and no regulatory system ensures safety. Millions of people are at risk, since at any time, any reactor could have a serious accident. Furthermore, even after 60 years of nuclear power, no one in the world can look us in the eye and say that a secure, long-term solution to storing
radioactive waste exists. This highly hazardous waste must be stored safely for hundreds of thousands of years.
The nuclear industry often claims, incorrectly, that nuclear energy is needed to combat climate change. On the contrary, expensive and dangerous nuclear power diverts investment from renewable energy — the real solution to climate change.
Yet, in every country, decision makers and regulators are more concerned about protecting the profits of the nuclear industry than in fulfilling their responsibility to protect people.
It is now time to put people first.http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/press/releases/Open-letter-to-world-leaders-calls-for-an-end-of-the-threat-of-nuclear-power/