Geneva/Tokyo: Remembering the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster that happened two years ago today, Green Cross International (GCI) is calling for the phasing out of the use of nuclear energy and the movement towards more environmentally-friendly, sustainable power solutions, which in turn can also enhance prospects for nuclear weapons free world.
On March 11, 2011, Japan experienced a 9.0 magnitude earthquake 130 km off shore from the city of Sendai. Due to that ferocious natural disaster, three of the Fukushima Daiichi plant’s six reactors suffered a meltdown, inflicting structural damage to reactor #4. Rated at Level 7, the highest possible rating on the INES (International Nuclear Event Scale), the 2011 Fukushima catastrophe was initially reported to have issued amounts of radioactive caesium into the atmosphere equal to 168 Hiroshima bombs. This number later rose drastically based on new findings issued by the Tepco Electric Power Company.
“Shockingly, this danger of tsunami-caused meltdowns had been publicized since 2008 in documents issued by the Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization, but plant owners have effectively ignored this contingency,” said GCI President Alexander Likhotal. “It was the failure of human action to take the proper safety precautions against known, highly possible, natural threats that resulted in such a disaster.”
Since its founding in 1993, GCI has advocated for an end to nuclear-powered energy, citing the great costs and risks involved with such technology. The 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine was a catalyst for GCI’s actions, and, still today, Green Cross is supporting communities in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus who are still feeling the impacts of that nuclear mishap.
Nuclear power, while being hailed as a source or cheap, clean energy, is instead exorbitantly expensive, particularly when it comes to construction, maintenance and decommissioning of plants that generate it. Despite claims by nuclear energy advocates that just two major accidents have occurred, at least 100 nuclear accidents involving loss of life or significant property damage were recorded between 1952 and 2009, totaling over US$20.5 billion in damages: or more than one incident and US$330 million in damage per year.
GCI stresses the importance of integrating supply with demand, but within the limits of a model of sustainable development that preserves the environment and promotes equity. “Energy efficiency and the harnessing of renewable resources is crucial to alleviating current international tensions and security threats,” says Paul Walker, Director of GCI’s Environmental Security and Sustainability programme.
Optimistically, nuclear power’s contribution to global electricity production has dropped as energy demand has increased. With nuclear energy at its peak in 1986 at 16% of the energy mix, there has been an, albeit small, decline in nuclear power use, contributing around 13-14% of global power sources in 2009. Clean sources of power, like solar and wind, are becoming increasingly cost competitive in many world markets.
GCI, founded by President Mikhail Gorbachev, is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2013. It is an independent non-profit and nongovernmental organization working to address the inter-connected global challenges of security, poverty eradication and environmental degradation through advocacy and local projects. GCI is headquartered in Geneva and has a network of national organizations in around 30 countries.