More than a hundred protesters gathered outside the headquarters of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) on April 15, with banners reading “No Nukes” and “Nuclear Kills All Life.” Demonstrators demanded a halt to Japan’s nuclear development plans, as well as protesting the compensation package announced by TEPCO to those affected by the Fukushima disaster—$12,000 to families of two or more members and $9,000 for people living alone. (NTD TV, April 15) The protest came as the government admitted the area around Fukushima could be uninhabitable for nearly a generation. Kenichi Matsumoto, an aide to Prim Minister Naoto Kan, said (in a classically Orwellian construction) that the contamination will “momentarily”* bar the area’s human habitability for between “10 and 20 years.” (AGI, April 13)
A nuclear expert has warned that it might be a century before melting fuel rods can be safely removed from the Fukushima plant. “As the water leaks out, you keep on pouring water in, so this leak will go on for ever,” said Dr John Price, a former member of the Safety Policy Unit at the UK’s National Nuclear Corporation. “There has to be some way of dealing with it. The water is connecting in tunnels and concrete-lined pits at the moment and the question is whether they can pump it back. The final thing is that the reactors will have to be closed and the fuel removed, and that is 50 to 100 years away. It means that the workers and the site will have to be intensely controlled for a very long period of time.” (Radio Australia, April 1)
In Taipei, Taiwan, a small group of activists staged an anti-nuclear demonstration on April 15, ahead of a nationwide protest slated for April 30. Members of the Green Citizen’s Action Alliance gathered in front of the Ministry of Economic Affairs to demand the government stop construction of Taiwan’s fourth nuclear power plant and halt operations at the three existing plants. (Taipei Times, April 16)
At Jaitapur in India‘s Maharashtra state, local farmers have stepped up their protests against a planned nuclear power plant. Opponents note the area was hit by 95 earthquakes from 1985 to 2005. Indian officials counter most were minor and that the plant’s clifftop location would offer protection from tsunamis. But the Jaitapur project is only one part of a major thrust of planned nuclear development in India. Delhi’s nuclear ambitions over the next generation are second only to China’s, with a quarter of the nation’s electricity slated to come from atomic reactors by 2050. (NYT, April 15)
Anti-nuclear protesters demonstrated outside the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) meeting in San Francisco on April 14, demanding that no new plants be built and licenses for the state’s existing plants not be renewed. Several made the connection between Pacific Gas and Electric’s nuclear power plant at Diablo Canyon and the company’s deadly natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno last year. (KGO, San Francisco, April 14)
In the Northeast, anti-nuclear activists began a cross-country march from New York state’s Indian Point nuclear complex to the Vermont Yankee plant. The “Peace Pilgrimage for a Nuclear-Free World” is intended to express solidarity with the victims of Fukushima as well as oppose nuclear power in the United States. (Peekskill-Cortlandt Patch, April 14)
See our last post on the Fukushima disaster.
* This word was presumably translated from Japanese to Italian by AGI, and then into English for AGI’s English-language service. We can hope the original was closer to something like “temporarily.”