Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Fukushima - Japan Protests

Three years after the Fukushima disaster, thousands of anti-nuclear demonstrators have filled the streets of Tokyo. They called on the government to pull the plug on nuclear power for good. This was one of many protests which were planned across Japan on Sunday.

“I am here today because I want to rid the planet of nuclear power as quickly as possible,” said Fumiko Ichikawa, one of the Tokyo demonstrators.

The Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is setting his sights on restarting some of the country’s 48 mothballed reactors. But, in the wake of the meltdown at Fukushima in March 2011, people in Japan are worried about safety and the impact on their health. Abe has announced he wants 30,000 residents to return to their homes and the reactors to be switched back on within two years.

A Fukushima insider and two former prime ministers have told the ABC's 7.30 program that such a move would be irresponsible. At the risk of losing his job if his identity is revealed, a senior TEPCO staffer, who has worked at the Fukushima plant for more than 20 years, says the situation at the reactor is not under control and no-one knows how to fix the problem.

"There are too many systems and they all have problems," he said. "For example, too many water tanks with too many lines - it's very difficult to operate. It's made worse because all the experienced workers have reached their radiation limits, so TEPCO has to rely on staff that don't know the site and who aren't trained."

The whistleblower says mistakes are made weekly, and contaminated water leaks into the Pacific Ocean every day.

"The other day when contaminated water overflowed from a tank, an alarm was ringing but they didn't go and check. I couldn't believe it. It was ringing for nine hours and they thought the alarm was out of order."

The insider says the damaged reactors can never be decontaminated and that people should not be moved back into the no-go zone, a 20-kilometre exclusion area around Fukushima.

"I feel it is impossible to fix before my death," he said. "We just don't have the technology to fix it. It currently doesn't exist. We just can't deal with the melted fuel."

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