Photo: Stefan Baumgartner, RGB PHOTO SWITZERLAND
On 30 January, at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan continued a tour (which also included an event in Washington, D.C. with Green Cross on 26 January) taking place a month before the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe that started on 11 March, 2011.
The disaster continues to unfold to this day, said Kan, as radioactive material continues to seep into groundwater and out into the ocean.
Kan, who was Prime Minister when the crisis began, explained that until the Fukushima disaster happened he believed that nuclear energy was an advanced technology that just needed to be handled carefully. But that was before the disaster that caused more than 200,000 people to be evacuated.
“The accident has fundamentally changed my views. I consider nuclear power to be the most dangerous form of generating energy and the risk is too great to continue using this technology”, Kan said. “It is neither cost-effective, nor clean, nor safe.”
Green Cross Switzerland and Green Cross Japan have been involved in projects measuring radioactivity around the Fukushima Prefecture. Their results were presented by Green Cross Switzerland’s Dr. Stephan Robinson. According to Robinson, the highest radiation values were measured in the evacuated city of Tomioka in the Fukushima Prefecture – an annual dose 35 times the international limit for the general population – but, worryingly, even outside the evacuation zone there are “hot spots” where radiation levels are dangerously high.
“Dose rates measured outside of the restricted area, in the municipal park of Koriyama in the Fukushima Prefecture, and in a street in Koriyama, are also high,” explained Robinson. “The analysis of the soil samples shows that they hugely exceed the limits, which means there is a particularly significant internal radiation hazard.”
Kan and Robinson were also joined by Prof. Dr. R. Richard Ernst, Professor Emeritus ETH Zurich and Nobel Prize winner in chemistry in 1991, and Prof. Dr. Vladimir M. Kusnetsow, from the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences.