Women. Power. Peace.

2011 – We Remember Tōhoku and Fukishima – 2015

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Today, Wednesday, March 11, 2015, marks the 4th anniversary of the magnitude-9 Tōhoku earthquake, tsunami, and Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster in eastern Japan. Extremely high levels of radiation, including Strontium-90 and Tritium, continue to leak from the Plant, including a previously undetected leak 70 times higher than current levels, which are already extremely high. Georgia WAND is working to mitigate the negative impacts of nuclear power Plant Vogtle in East Georgia, which contributes to increased health issues, water exploitation, and environmental contamination. Currently, Southern Company is constructing two new reactors, Units 3 & 4, at Plant Vogtle; this is the first nuclear energy reactor construction in the US since the 1979 Three-Mile Island melt down. To help build support for people who are affected by the expansion of and disasters related to the nuclear industry, Georgia WAND and Nuclear Watch South will be delivering the following letter to the Japanese Consulate General in Atlanta, Georgia, this afternoon. If you'd like to join us, please contact Becky at becky@georgiawand.org.

 

March 11, 2015

Re: For Delivery to His Excellency Shinzō Abe, Prime Minister of Japan

Dear Consul General Sunaga:

It is with humility, sincerity, hope, and solidarity that we write this letter acknowledging the horrific catastrophes enacted on the Japanese people by US atomic technology. This year marks 70 years since the Atomic Age began in 1945 with the US military bombing of two Japanese cities, the deaths of thousands of Japanese civilians, and life on Earth forever altered by the effects of radiation on its people, animals, and plants.

Therefore, it is with especially strong purpose that we remember Japan's latest atomic tragedy - the ruination of reactors designed by General Electric at Fukushima Dai-ichi in the wake of the Great East Japan (Tōhoku) Earthquake and tsunami four years ago today.

US families have also been affected by nuclear accidents, for instance, at Three Mile Island, in 1979, the Church Rock Mill tailings, in 1979, and from secretive contamination practices at US nuclear weapons factories for decades. People in Georgia are affected by nuclear power Plant Vogtle and the Savannah River Site, a 1950's nuclear weapons plant across the Savannah River from Plant Vogtle, who are living downwind, downstream, and in the shadow of the Southeast's nuclear industrial complex. The Atomic Age reeks of violence and mayhem, oppression and inequity. No people are more aware of that than the Japanese, especially those from Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Fukushima.

In addition to regret and profound sorrow, we wish to express feelings of solidarity with and respect for the people of Japan. We recognize the resilience and resistance shown by Japanese people as they confront the Fukushima radiation disaster, which was caused by TEPCO's criminal negligence. We are concerned that laws, which were established to fund help for the people impacted by this manmade disaster, have not been upheld and that, instead, Japanese taxpayer money has been given to keep TEPCO in business.

We applaud Japan for accomplishing the safe removal of hazardous spent nuclear fuel from the No. 4 reactor fuel pool. We appreciate the enormity of the ever-expanding task to contain the contaminated water at Fukushima Dai-ichi, and to continue to keep contaminated water out of the environment.

We believe that nuclear energy production and the entire nuclear fuel cycle contributes to unacceptable problems to the health of people and the environment. To replace nuclear energy production, renewable sources of energy are more than adequate, especially when adopted and generated using an equity analysis and tools for liberation. Toward that end, we are pleased to present you with a signed copy of Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy, written by Dr. Arjun Makhijani. This gift is a follow up from our conversation last year, which you may remember, about the possibilities that are open to Japan to replace risky nuclear power with safe energy sources. Optimistic forecasts in Dr. Makhijani's landmark 2007 study have been eclipsed by the actual performance of solar and wind power in recent years, which has become both cheap and abundant. Sun, wind, and wave energy, coupled with efficiency and conservation methods, place a complete transformation to safe energy within our grasp.

Knowing Japan's ancient history of cultural resilience, spiritual wisdom, and respect for nature causes us to believe that Japan can illuminate the way forward, not only for the Japanese people, but even for the rest of the world. We are at an historic juncture. At the same time, we understand the complicity between US energy and international commerce policy and Japan's strength as a world economic leader. In fact, the nuclear industry helped both the US and Japan pull ahead as modern technological and economic powerhouses. This shared prosperity is also a deadly curse. Again, we reiterate our commitment to supporting the people in Japan who are affected by the Atomic Age, and we commit to pressuring our own country, as we all work toward an Age of Peace and Health.

TEPCO's disaster at Fukushima is an international issue. At the nuclear plant in Fukushima, radioactivity continues to escape, endangering the Pacific Ocean. Clean up of Fukushima should be an international project meriting international oversight and international expertise. Indeed, incidents such as the recent radiation spike from a leak at Fukushima underscores the urgency of rallying the whole world to address Japan's nuclear catastrophe.

It is important for Japan to conserve its financial, managerial, and regulatory resources in order to meet the supreme challenges facing the Japanese people. TEPCO must receive the most rigorous oversight from both Japanese leaders and international inspectors.

We urge you to make the primary focus of the Japanese government to heal and help the people directly affected by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster; mitigate the catastrophic radiation releases from the destroyed reactors; prevent further radiological disasters; and develop energy efficiency and safe energy sources instead of attempting to restart nuclear reactors and export nuclear technology.

We respectfully request the following:

Please honor the Act on the Protection and Support for the Children and other Victims of the TEPCO Disaster and direct public funds to fully compensate all survivors of the nuclear accident in Fukushima and provide medical treatment and relocation assistance for people living in contaminated areas;

Please undertake follow-up visits with children to assess the health of their thyroids and the effects of radiation exposure to their general health;

Please begin a robust food monitoring program for all Japanese citizens and restore strict limits on allowable radiation exposures, especially for Japanese children;

Please repeal the Cancer Registry Act and Secrets Protection Act. Japan will lose face with the international community only if it fails to honor its own people with truthful, complete information about the invisible threats affecting the day-to-day life of thousands of Japanese people;

Please abandon plans to restart nuclear reactors across Japan. We are also working toward the goal of moving beyond nuclear power in our own country and permanently shut four US reactors in the past year. The attempt to restart the Sendai reactors is particularly misguided as the reactors are located on an active volcano and threaten Kyoto, a world heritage site. To protect Kyoto, Sendai should not only be kept shut, but should be immediately decommissioned;

Please do not export nuclear reactors to other countries;

Please stop the incineration of radioactive rubble and waste throughout Japan, a practice that does not destroy the radioactivity but rather disperses it into the air, incinerator ash and other solid waste; and

Please stop the flow of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. The ocean extends far beyond Japan. It is owned by the entire planet and is essential to life on Earth.

We write in solidarity with people who have been forced to abandon their homes and hometowns; farmers who have lost their farmlands and their animals; children and mothers who have been poisoned by radiation. Many people will never be able to go back to their homes and businesses because of radioactive contamination. People are afraid their food and water are contaminated and their children are at risk and need good information. We call on the Japanese government to stand with its people through this ongoing tragedy and to resist exploitation and capture by profit-making corporations and the international nuclear industry. Throughout the world, and in the US and in Japan, we must stop creating sacrifice zones, where our people are casualties.

Radiation knows no national or prefectural borders. We must not allow another nuclear disaster. We urge you to exercise your leadership to achieve the goals of these eight recommendations. The whole world will be able to benefit from Japan's good example in meeting the unprecedented challenge to develop a safe energy economy and safeguard the health of its people in the wake of Tōhoku and Fukushima.

We appreciate the opportunity to meet with you again today and look forward to cultivating an ongoing, productive relationship with the Japanese consulate in Atlanta. We heartily invite your collaboration in acknowledging the 70th anniversary of nuclear weapons in August upon the anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We will be in touch.

 

With sincerest and highest regards,

Becky D. Rafter, MPA                     Glenn Carroll

Executive Director                          Coordinator

Georgia WAND                               Nuclear Watch South

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