“Nothing learnt from the Disaster” - ethecon condemns restart of Japanese Oi nuclear power station

Since Thursday, July 5th, Japan generates nuclear electricity again. Now the Oi nuclear power station went back to the national grid after all of the country’s 50 atomic power stations were turned off for a period of two months. There is harsh criticism from ethecon - Foundation Ethics & Economics. It was only last week that they handed over the International ethecon Black Planet Award 2011 in Tokyo to those responsible for TEPCO company.

“The Japanese Government and the electricity companies have learnt nothing from the disaster” according to Lydia Will, member of the foundation’s Board of Trustees and member of the delegation who came to Japan for handing over the castigation award and for visiting the Fukushima prefecture. “Instead of looking after adequate supplies for and evacuation of the affected communities around Fukushima all they want is generating profits as early as possible. The will of the Japanese population is being completely ignored.” Opinion polls have shown that about 70 percent of the Japanese speak out against a restart of the nuclear stations. On 29th June, about 150.000 people demonstrated in Tokyo outside the official residence of Japanese Prime Minister Noda as a last-minute attempt to prevent the restart of Oi power station.

Exactly like Fukushima nuclear power station, the Oi reactors are right on the coast in the immediate vicinity of active geological dislocations some of which have not undergone closer scrutiny as yet (source: final part of ZDF television feature about handing over of the castigation award, key word „Schmähaward“). That means the danger is even more acute and obvious than in the case of Fukushima where the threats from earthquakes and tsunamis were known. It is just that they were played down. This finding was the clear result of the inquiry committee appointed by the Japanese Parliament. According to them, the accident was foreseeable and avoidable. In the end it was the result of too close a relationship between the government, the nuclear supervisory board and the energy companies. This even led to the nuclear supervisory authority making suggestions to TEPCO on how to avoid safety measures (source: taz report dated 5th July 2012). At the same time the company’s staff lacked proper training on what to do in case of an accident. And finally the affected inhabitants were neither informed sufficiently nor evacuated in time.

Even today radiation levels in 75 percent of Fukushima prefecture continue to be high: It is an area where about 360.000 children live and play outside every day (source: Clinic Fukushima). But the Japanese government declared that the worst-case accident is over. They reopened some of the restricted area and try to bring things back to normal instead of evacuating the entire population. Mind you that just the other day there have been readings of more than 10 Sievert per hour in Reactor 1 of the destroyed power station. With such a reading the maximum permitted yearly radiation dose is reached within 20 seconds (source: Japan Times dated 29th June 2012). And in the heavily damaged Reactor 4 there are still 1.500 fuel rods in the cooling pool in one of the upper floors. The walls of the building lean to one side and in some places they bulge out (source: New York Times dated 27th June 2012). There would be a catastrophe far beyond the worst-case accident of last year in March in case this reactor should collapse as the result of another earthquake.

In order to give the region’s inhabitants at least a place to turn to with their questions and their worries especially about their children’s health, organisations like “Mothers of Fukushima” are taking donations for a health centre as a working place for independent doctors. This centre is designed to be a counterweight to misinformation from doctors who are loyal to the government like Shunichi Yamashita. This vice president of Fukushima Medical University keeps arguing that radiation doses of up to 100 Millisievert per year are supposed to be harmless and that taking in radioactive substances inside the body is not hazardous to one’s health (source: Clinic Fukushima). The delegates of Foundation ethecon donated 2500 Euro after their visit to Fukushima to help the start of the health centre. Now ethecon make a worldwide call for solidarity with this project urging for its support. This is because the long-term results of the worst-case accident at Fukushima nuclear power station are incalculable. In such a situation it is a grave mistake to bring the reactors back to operation which had been turned off nationwide.

A comprehensive justification statement for the choice of the International Black Planet Award 2011 recipients may be found in the dossier on TEPCO in the download section of the website www.ethecon.org. A summary is in the Open Letter. ethecon demands that the major shareholders and responsible executives be held liable for all incurred damages. Wanting more profits, they made wrong decisions without which the catastrophe would never have happened. Now the report by the enquiry committee has confirmed these accusations.

Foundation ethecon is above all known through the annual bestowal of its International ethecon Blue/ Black Planet Awards in Berlin. With its positive prizes ethecon honoured in past years Diane Wilson/USA (2006), Vandana Shiva/India (2007), José Abreu und Hugo Chávez/Venezuela (2008), Uri Avnery/Israel (2009), Elias Bierdel/Austria (2010) as well as Angela Davis/USA (2011). The censure awards went to the owners, shareholders and executive management of the following companies: Monsanto/USA (2006), Nestlé/Switzerland(2007), Blackwater (Xe)/USA (2008), Formosa Plastics Group/Taiwan (2009), BP/Great Britain (2010) and TEPCO/Japan (2011).

In contrast to many corporate, family, church, political and state foundations, ethecon is one of the few foundations empowered by ordinary citizens. There are currently 30 endowment contributors. Following the credo „for a world without exploitation and oppression“, it see its mission in its responsibility toward coming generations. The young foundation is financed through endowment contributions, donations and sustaining memberships.

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