Greenpeace: Fukushima Disaster Caused by Japan’s Nuclear Authorities, Not Tsunami

Published on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 by Common Dreams

Greenpeace: Fukushima Disaster Caused by Japan’s Nuclear Authorities, Not Tsunami

– Common Dreams staff

new report released today by Greenpeace argues it was neither the 7.1 magnitude earthquake nor the raging tsunami that followed which deserve the real blame for the nuclear disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Diachi power plant last year. Rather, according to ‘The Lessons of Fukushima’, the real disaster was caused by hubris, greed, and the fact that repeated warnings over the unsafe nature of the nuclear plant were ‘downplayed and ignored’.

Litate village, 40km northwest of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Radiation levels found by the Greenpeace monitoring team are far above internationally recommended limits. (Christian Aslund / Greenpeace)“While triggered by the tragic March 11th earthquake and tsunami, the Fukushima disaster was ultimately caused by the Japanese authorities choosing to ignore risks, and make business a higher priority than safety,” said Jan Vande Putte, Greenpeace International nuclear campaigner. “This report shows that nuclear energy is inherently unsafe, and that governments are quick to approve reactors, but remain ill-equipped to deal with problems and protect people from nuclear disasters. This has not changed since the Fukushima disaster, and that is why millions of people continue to be exposed to nuclear risks.”

The report was written by Dr. David Boilley, a nuclear physicist with the French independent radiation laboratory ACRO; Dr. David McNeill, Japan correspondent for The Chronicle of Higher Education; and Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer with Fairewinds Associates. It was peer reviewed by Dr. Helmut Hirsch, an expert in nuclear safety.

“This disaster was predictable and predicted, but happened because of the age-old story of cutting corners to protect profits over people,” said Kazue Suzuki Greenpeace Japan Nuclear Campaigner. “The authorities are already recklessly pushing to restart reactors without learning anything from the Fukushima disaster and the people will once again be forced to pay the price of their government’s mistakes.”

“People should not be forced to live with the myth of nuclear safety and under the shadow of a nuclear disaster waiting to happen,” said Vande Putte. “Nuclear power must be phased out and replaced with smart investments in energy efficiency and renewable power. This approach will create millions of sustainable jobs, improve energy independence, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and will also ensure people will never again suffer radioactive fallout from a preventable disaster.“

Jan Baranek, writing at the Greenpeace blogsays:

… The first crucial lesson [of the report] is that “nuclear safety” cannot be created. While the nuclear industry wants us to believe that the chance of a major reactor accident is one in million, the real frequency has been one meltdown every decade, on average. Fukushima also showed how quickly the multiple barriers that we were assured would prevent a large release of radioactivity failed. In Japan, all the barriers collapsed during the first day, and a hydrogen blast allowed radiation to directly escape to open air.

The second lesson is that the institutions that we have trusted to protect people from nuclear risks also failed completely.

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