Fukushima nuclear disaster 10th anniversary: Global crisis has clear local lessons

A joint statement from the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Electrical Trades Union.

Ten years ago, the world held its breath, crossed its fingers and learnt a new word.

Fukushima went from being the name of a provincial Japanese city to global shorthand for a costly, contaminating and continuing nuclear disaster.

“On the anniversary of the Fukushima meltdown, our thoughts are with the workers and local communities who were exposed to toxic radiation from the nuclear disaster,” said Allen Hicks, National Secretary, Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU).

“These workers were put in harm’s way by a system and company that ultimately didn’t care enough about their safety.

“The nuclear industry poses too big a risk to human health and safety to be viable, especially when there are far better and safer alternatives like renewable energy.

“Our government and all Australians must put their foot down and say no to a nuclear industry in our country. Not now, not ever.”

The Fukushima crisis has significant local lessons.

“Australian radioactive rocks are the source of Fukushima’s fallout,” said Australian Conservation Foundation nuclear free campaigner Dave Sweeney.

“In October 2011 the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade formally confirmed that Australian uranium was routinely sold to the corner-cutting Tokyo Electric Power Corporation and was fuelling the Fukushima complex at the time of the disaster.

“Despite this reality, a small minority of pro-nuclear politicians and industry associations continue to push domestic nuclear power, in part to distract from their inaction on meaningful efforts to address climate change.”

The federal, NSW and Victorian governments have all completed nuclear inquiries in recent years and all three governments plan to retain laws banning nuclear power.

No state or territory government is promoting nuclear power.

Nuclear power is high cost, high risk and lacks broad community support. More than sixty civil society organisations with a broad demographic and geographic spread across sectors including trade union, public health, Indigenous, environment, faith and climate action and advocacy have formally expressed their opposition to nuclear plans through these processes.

On this anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, our organisations are calling for Australia to act on our real energy choices and challenges and to not waste precious time and public funds on the promotion of the under-performing, unreliable and unsafe nuclear sector.

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