In 1971, a small group of activists set sail from Vancouver in a fishing boat they named Greenpeace. Their destination was Amchitka, a volcanic island in the Aleutian Islands, west of Alaska, where the United States was set to detonate a nuclear bomb. The activists feared the underground explosion, the third such test on the island, would trigger devastating earthquakes and tsunamis.
In 2011, the battle is still going on. Greenpeace Japan’s latest campaign is to protect people from the massive release of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant after it was crippled by the March 11 earthquakes and tsunami.
Greenpeace Japan was established in 1989, and has worked on protecting ocean ecology, nuclear disarmament, the phase out of nuclear power, toxic pollution, protecting ancient forest and climate change.
As the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan entered its second week, Greenpeace conducted radiation monitoring in Fukushima and responded to reports of increased radiation in food from areas surrounding the TEPCO’s Fukushima/Daiichi nuclear plant, including three field trips to Fukushima including ocean survey. Since then Greenpeace has called for more effective protection of public health and an immediate and transparent availability of information.
We cannot think of another company more suited than TEPCO to receive the Black Planet Award 2011. As a Greenpeace banner spelled out at TEPCO’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) with shareholders this year, “TEPCO is The Worst Ever Polluting Company”. Not only for the accident they could have avoided if they had heard citizens’ years of warnings on the lack of earthquake resistance, but also for their behavior since the crisis began. I‘ll give you one example; if TEPCO had pumped in sea water to cool down the reactors sooner, several explosions, which led to massive radiation releases might not have happened. TEPCO waited because the company knew that once they pumped in seawater, they knew they could no longer use the reactors and would have had to abandon them. Also, the task of building of further reinforcement under the reactor buildings so not to release radioactivity to groundwater is immense. However, TEPCO is calculating how much this would cost and as of yet have not built the structures. If the radioactivity reaches the ground water, it would release radioactivity to larger areas of Japan and would hugely increase public health risks.
I urge anyone who reads this to pick up the phone and call TEPCO to say “stop radioactive releases into the atmosphere, ocean and ground water”. The number: +81 3-3501-8111.