Fukushima Fallout. Nuclear business makes people pay and suffer
|Classification||126.96.36.199/11 (JAPAN - FUKUSHIMA (DAI’I CHI ACCIDENT))|
|Remarks||Online available at greenpeace.org|
From the publication:
Executive summary From the beginning of the use of nuclear power to produce electricity 60 years ago, the nuclear industry has been protected from paying the full costs of its failures. Governments have created a system that protects the profits of companies while those who suffer from nuclear disasters end up paying the costs. The disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011 proves again that industry profits and people pay. Almost two years after the release of massive amounts of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, hundreds of thousands of people are still exposed to the long-term radioactive contamination caused by the accident. The daily lives of victims are disrupted. They have lost their homes, their jobs, their businesses, their farms, their communities, and a way of life they enjoyed. They are still unable to get fair and timely compensation. Yet at the same time, the nuclear industry continues to evade its responsibilities for the disaster. It is business as usual: nuclear companies are still operating as always by creating nuclear risks. How is it possible that, apart from the now nationalised Fukushima operator TEPCO, the nuclear industry is not paying for the multibillions in damages of Fukushima? How is it possible that companies, such as GE and Hitachi, that got large contracts by building, supplying and servicing the Fukushima nuclear power plant, can simply continue their business as if nothing happened? It has become painfully clear that systemic flaws in the nuclear sector make the suffering of victims worse. Many of them survive in improvised conditions, unable to return home or to rebuild their lives elsewhere. Why does this happen? The nuclear industry and governments have designed a nuclear liability system that protects the industry, and forces people to pick up the bill for its mistakes and disasters. To safeguard the public from nuclear risks, the system needs to be fundamentally reformed to hold the entire nuclear industry fully accountable for its actions and failures. In February 2012, Greenpeace released Lessons from Fukushima, a report that uncovered the key causes of the Fukushima accident, which lie in institutional failures of governments, regulators, and the nuclear industry. These included: failure to acknowledge nuclear risks, failure to enforce appropriate nuclear safety standards, failure to protect the public in an emergency situation, and failure to ensure appropriate compensation for the victims. This new Greenpeace report demonstrates how the nuclear sector evades responsibility for its failures. The nuclear industry is unlike any other industry: it is not required to fully compensate its victims for the effects of its large, long-lasting, and trans-boundary disasters. In this report, the current status of compensation for victims of the Fukushima disaster is analysed as an example of the serious problems due to lack of accountability for nuclear accidents. The report also looks into the role of nuclear suppliers in the failure of the Fukushima reactors. In addition, this report addresses two main protections for the industry: • Liability conventions and national laws limit the total amount of compensation available and protect nuclear suppliers, the companies that profit from the construction and operation of reactors, from any liability. This caps the funds available for victims at a fraction of real costs and removes incentives for supplier companies to take measures to reduce nuclear risks. • The complexity of and multiple layers in the nuclear supply chain exacerbate the lack of accountability for nuclear suppliers. Even though hundreds of different suppliers are providing components and services that are critical for reactor safety, these companies cannot be held accountable in case of problems. Fukushima two years later – people left in limbo Chapter 1 of this report details the struggle of nuclear victims for fair compensation. Author Dr David McNeil, (Japan correspondent and co-author of Strong in the Rain: Surviving Japan’s Earthquake, Tsunami and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster) evaluates the ongoing human consequences of the Fukushima accident. Victims and witnesses tell stories about the multiple problems with the compensation process. As Mrs Kameya (68) states: “People think we will get a lot of money when something like this happens but they’re wrong.” In the wake of the disaster, the 160,000 involuntary and tens of thousands of voluntary evacuees fled from the radioactively contaminated zone. For them, starting a new life seems almost impossible and the compensation process is complicating, not easing people’s lives. People are left in limbo, stuck between past and future. The problems with the compensation process are manifold: the processing of claims is delayed, and the monthly payments are not enough to ensure people a living, let alone enough to set up a new life. Not everyone is eligible for compensation, and the lucky ones only get a fraction of the value of their lost homes. There has not yet been a single payment that fully compensates anyone for the loss of a house and property. The compensation scheme is set up in a way that compensation is first paid with government-backed financing. But TEPCO’s nationalisation in June 2012 makes it clear that eventually ordinary Japanese people will pay the bill for Fukushima. The utility’s demand on the state-backed Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund for compensation payments mounted to ¥3.24 trillion ($36.5bn US dollars) by December 2012. At the same time, the Japanese government injected ¥1tn (about $12.5bn at 2012 exchange rates) into the utility in May 2012 to save it from bankruptcy, which totalled an estimated ¥3.5tn in public money to the utility since the Fukushima disaster began. Nuclear suppliers escape responsibility Chapter 1 also investigates the role of the nuclear supplier companies in the Fukushima reactors. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant consisted of six reactors, with units 1 to 5 based on the flawed Mark I design by the US company General Electric (GE). GE supplied the reactors for units 1, 2, and 6, and two Japanese companies supplied the others — Toshiba provided units 3 and 5, and Hitachi unit 4. All suppliers that were involved in the Fukushima nuclear power plants, including GE, Hitachi and Toshiba, are currently exempted from responsibility for the March 11 disaster. In contrast, many are even profiting from the disaster. GE, Hitachi and Toshiba, along with many other suppliers, are currently involved in the clean up, which includes decommissioning the Fukushima reactors and decontamination of radioactively contaminated areas.
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