Japan has for the first time acknowledged that a worker at the Fukushima nuclear power plant has died following exposure to radiation. The man, who was in charge of measuring radiation at the plant following the 2011 accident, had lung cancer. The government has agreed to pay his family compensation.
In March 2011, an earthquake and tsunami hit the Fukushima plant, causing explosions which released radioactive materials into the atmosphere in what was the biggest nuclear disaster since the explosion at Chernobyl twenty-five years earlier. It is only the second incident ever to be classified as a Level 7, the highest possible, on the International Nuclear Event Scale.
CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said: “Until now, the Japanese government has insisted that this nuclear catastrophe hasn’t resulted in any deaths, though scientists and campaigners have always maintained that radiation-induced deaths would occur. We’ve now sadly been proven right. In addition, it has still not been deemed safe enough for tens of thousands of people to return to their homes in the area. Nuclear accidents like this have widespread and long-lasting consequences, yet the UK government retains its commitment to build a new generation of nuclear power stations.”
CND met with Japanese campaigners from the Minna No Data Site earlier this year. This group measures soil radiation levels at 3,400 locations across Japan, as the government refuses to do it. It’s become clear through this work that there is a high level of contamination of Japanese soil.
Kate Hudson continues: “The continuing problems at the Fukushima site, as well as the tragic confirmation of this man’s death, should be a stark warning to a British government intent on spending billions of pounds on nuclear energy. It is both a moral obligation and a logical conclusion to heed the lessons of the Fukushima disaster. Nuclear power has shown itself to be a dirty, dangerous and expensive form of energy. Instead of subsidising nuclear power and building new reactors, we call on the government to get serious about renewable energy.”