Australian news, and some related international items

Fukushima nuclear disaster has profound implications for Australia

Fukushima five years on, and the lessons we failed to learn, Guardian, Dave Sweeney, 11 Mar 16   After directly fuelling the disaster at Fukushima, Australia should have taken steps to review and reconsider its role in the global nuclear trade Five years ago this week the world held its breath, crossed its fingers and learnt a new word.

Fukushima went from being the name of a provincial Japanese city to becoming global shorthand for a costly and contaminating nuclear disaster.

Fukushima means “fortunate island” but the region’s luck melted down along with the reactors on March 11, 2011. The subsequent system failure, meltdown and uncontrolled release of large volumes of radiation at the Tokyo Electric Power Corporation’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex has become one of the defining events of our age.

It was a game-changer that highlighted the urgent need for the game to change. As the country that supplied the fuel that made it happen, the events at Fukushima held – and still hold – profound implications for Australia.

The March 11 Great Eastern earthquake and tsunami devastated much of Japan’s eastern seaboard. It also breached the safety and back-up systems at Tepco’s nuclear complex leading to the loss of life, mass evacuations, hundreds of billions of dollars in economic loss and extensive radioactive contamination of the air, soil and ocean.

The crisis continues today. Japanese nuclear authorities have confirmed that active intervention will be required for the next forty years to stabilise the site, there are on-going radioactive releases and water and waste management issues and charges have just been laidagainst former senior Tepco officials for “professional negligence resulting in deaths and injury”.

In August 2012, I joined a delegation of international monitors and public health experts who visited the Fukushima region.

We saw and spoke with people whose lives have been irreparably changed. We drove through abandoned regions and towns empty of both people and hope. We met with elderly evacuees in temporary housing who will never return home. We heard stories of individual bravery and corporate indifference and all to the sinister soundtrack of a disturbingly active Geiger counter.

As tour member Hasegawa Kenichi, a Fukushima dairy farmer who can no longer sell his milk, stated “it is important to make sure that what is happening in Fukushima is not forgotten.”

For Australia, his words have great relevance as the disaster that has irrevocably affected his life and livelihood started in the back of a big yellow truck right here…….

On this fifth anniversary it is time to honour Kenichi-san’s plea not to be forgotten with a credible and independent review of the real costs and consequences of Australia’s uranium trade.

March 12, 2016 - Posted by | General News

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: