March 11, 2013

Tragedy Continues on 2nd Anniversary of Fukushima disaster

While people mourn for the mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents and children that were lost in the earthquake and tsunami, many of those that fled the natural disaster have been able to return home and rebuild their lives and communities as best they can.
The tragedy continues, however, for those still suffering from the impacts of radioactive contamination from the Fukushima nuclear accident. Many areas remain uninhabitable, leaving 160,000 evacuees stuck in limbo, unable to go home, but also unable to rebuild their lives as they lack proper compensation and support.

Families and communities are breaking up, financial ruin is common, as is divorce and mental breakdowns. Recent estimates suggest cancer rates are likely to increase in Fukushima, which weighs heavily on people's minds, and suicides are increasing in the area. It is untrue to say nobody has lost their lives as a result of the nuclear accident.
This ongoing tragedy for the victims of the nuclear disaster is the fault of a system that is supposed to provide fair compensation when there is a nuclear disaster, but doesn't.  This system essentially protects the nuclear industry, not people.
That the nuclear industry is protected before people is a sad and totally unjust reality for most of the world.
The cost of the Fukushima disaster is estimated at US$250 billion, but costs so far have already crushed owner TEPCO so badly it had to be nationalised. TEPCO is one of the largest energy utilities in the world, yet it had to be protected from its responsibilities. Taxpayers are now picking up the tab.
Worse still is that the system offers even greater protection to companies like General Electric, Hitachi and Toshiba. They built the Fukushima plant based on a flawed reactor design. Yet the regulations allow them to walk away and pay nothing to help victims. They also do not show much moral responsibility to help.
The big gap between the costs of a nuclear disaster and what the nuclear industry pays should make everyone angry.
This reality, like other painful truths about nuclear power, has hit home with many Japanese people. They are standing up in protest.
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