Japan crisis: campaigners urge rethink on nuclear power

Fukushima nuclear power plants

Fukushima nuclear power plants

As engineers in Japan battle to prevent further lethal explosions and multiple meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power stations damaged by Friday's devastating earthquake and tsunami in Sendai,  campaigners are urging governments to rethink the use of nuclear power.

Bruce Kent, vice president of Pax Christi said: "Not only are nuclear reactors the way to nuclear weapons,  but they are  highly vulnerable to catastrophes like earthquakes and plane crashes. Lord Flowers, years ago, advised us not to look to nuclear energy as a source of electricity  until we had  solved the waste disposal problem. That has still not been solved and, entirely irresponsibly, we are building up lethal quantities of nuclear waste which will threaten, especially the human race, for tens of thousands of years. Energy economy and renewable sources of energy are in my view the only prudent ways to try to solve our global energy problems."

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament noted that the strategy of building nuclear power stations in coastal areas - common to both Japan and the UK - made them particularly vulnerable to sea surges and climate-change related sea level rises.

The Fukushima site, with six nuclear reactors, is one of the largest concentrations of nuclear plants in the world. All six reactors shut down automatically when the earthquake hit, but the cooling pumps on the oldest reactor, which dates from 1971, failed to activate. This means the reactor core will not be brought down from its normal operating temperature as would normally be the case in a shut-down. Two more have now overheated. Many thousands of people are being evacuated from the surrounding area.

Kate Hudson, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said: "The policy of building ever more nuclear power stations increases the likelihood that a natural disaster such as today's earthquake could be significantly worsened or even dwarfed by a nuclear emergency. Both Japan and Britain locate all their nuclear plants on the coast to take advantage of unbroken supplies of cooling water. But this also exposes them to the brunt of both tsunamis and the coastal floods which are likely to become ever more frequent due to climate change.

"With the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster next month, today's incident underlines the constant danger that nuclear power presents due to events totally beyond the control of power station operations. We urge the government to reconsider its support for building new nuclear power stations in Britain."

CND will be holding a parliamentary meeting on the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster on Tuesday, 26 April, 6-7.30pm in the Grimond Room, Portcullis House. 'Remembering Chernobyl: nuclear power is not the answer' will be hosted by Caroline Lucas MP.

Source: CND/ICN

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