Coinciding with the 8th anniversary of the Fukushima accident (March 11), Greenpeace and Ecologistas en Acción, among other environmental organizations, recalled the risk posed by nuclear energy and denounced that keeping the Spanish power plants operational for another 15 years is a danger unnecessary.
Seven years after the Fukushima-Daiichi accident, the effects of the radioactive release remain uncontrolled. The reactors have not yet been dismantled and the 800,000 tonnes of radioactive water that accumulates around the plant have not been managed.
Despite the fact that the Japanese authorities are working on decontamination of the soil in the immediate area of the plant, the cleaning is partial and high levels of radioactivity still persist above 20 times the permitted levels.
The complaint of Ecologists in Action
Ecologists in Action wants to denounce on this anniversary the extension of the nuclear closure schedule between 2025 and 2035 agreed by the Spanish Government with the three main electricity companies, which would mean that all the reactors will pass 40 years of operation and, in some cases, until 50. An inadmissible proposal. The extension of operating permits will involve costly and complex safety reviews that will force electricity companies to invest billions of euros that will undoubtedly affect the price of electricity.
This lengthening will also increase the volume of high-level waste, by about 175 tons per year, without there being an acceptable method for final management. The same occurs with the production of medium and low level waste that will not fit in the El Cabril nuclear cemetery (Córdoba).
For Ecologistas en Acción, it is very serious that in this decision there has been no report that supports the safety of each nuclear power plant beyond 40 years. Again, economic criteria prevail over nuclear safety. A clear example is the struggle between the owner companies that link the nuclear shutdown exclusively to their economic balance sheets and to the profitability of the assets of the electricity companies.
For all these reasons, the environmental organization expresses its rejection of the published closure schedule and insists on demanding the closure of the nuclear plants as their exploitation permits expire, so that in 2024 the country will be free of this threat.
The Greenpeace Japan report
Greenpeace Japan's report, Workers and Children in Fukushima: On the Front Line of the Catastrophe, reveals high levels of radiation in the two exclusion zones and in open areas, even after massive decontamination efforts. It also documents how the government's measures violate international human rights conventions and guidelines, particularly those relating to plant personnel and children.
“In areas where some decontamination personnel are operating, the radiation levels would be considered an emergency if they were inside a nuclear facility. The workers have hardly received training, they are poorly paid, exposed to high radiation, and they can lose their jobs if they complain ”, added Montón. In this sense, the environmental organization considers that the UN Special Rapporteurs have the right to warn the Japanese Government about these risks and violations of human rights.
The main findings of the Greenpeace Japan research are:
Radiation in the Namie and Iitate Exclusion Zone and Evacuation Areas poses a significant risk to the public, including minors. The levels vary above the internationally recommended maximum (5 to more than 100 times) and will remain that way for many decades and into the next century.
Workers and children in Fukushima: on the front lines of the catastrophe, it reveals high levels of radiation in the two exclusion zones and in open areas, even after enormous decontamination efforts.
In the Obori exclusion zone in Namie, the average radiation levels were 4.0 μSv per hour. So high that if a worker were there eight hours a day for a full year, they could receive a dose equivalent to more than a hundred chest X-rays.
In a forest across from a kindergarten and school in Namie City where evacuation orders were lifted, the average radiation level was 1.8 μSv per hour. The 1,584 points measured exceeded the Japanese government's long-term decontamination target of 0.23 μSv per hour. In 28% of this area, the annual dose for children could be 1,020 times higher than the internationally recommended maximum.
The exploitation of workers is widespread, including the recruitment of disadvantaged and homeless people, there is no effective training in radiation protection, falsification of identification and health certificates, and unreliable official records.
This Greenpeace report comes a month after the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child issued a series of damning recommendations to the Japanese government that, if implemented, would end current policies in Fukushima, including the suspension of the lifting of evacuation orders, full compensation to evacuees, and full implementation of all relevant human rights obligations for evacuees and workers.
With information from Greenpeace and Ecologists in Action