Report of the public meeting at the House of Commons Westminster
Two years have passed since the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident which happened immediately after the gigantic earthquake and tsunami hit the North East of Japan on March 11 2011. JAN UK, Kick Nuclear and CND jointly organised a public meeting at the House of Commons on March 11 2013 (Monday) from 7.30 pm.
In the overcrowded meeting room, many people were seen standing or sitting on the floor. A Kyodo News journalist also attended. 9 speakers addressed the meeting but time ran out for questions and answers. 2 hours passed more quickly than expected. Dr Kate Hudson, General Secretary of CND, was first on the list. She said that nuclear power plants were obsolete & used harmful technologies. She continued by saying anti-nuclear citizens and groups in UK, Japan and overseas would continue the anti-nuclear movement and solidarity for the elimination of nuclear weapons and nuclear plants. This was followed by speeches by 4 experts from the UK.
Nuclear engineer John Large criticized the policy of the United Kingdom nuclear regulatory agency, since there is no way to deal with serious events, such as terrorist attacks, it has still been unable to create an effective disaster countermeasure plan. He pointed out that a robust nuclear power plant accident evacuation plan does not exist in the United Kingdom and it is impossible to ensure sufficient safety measures for residents in case of an accident. However, even Japanese evacuation standards and plans are not good enough according to Mr Large. Once serious nuclear accidents occur, exposure to radiation and other hazards is inevitable even with standards and plans in place.
Mr Jonathan Porritt, a long term environmental activist and writer, criticized those environmentalists who have accepted nuclear power. He said the existence of the government’s new nuclear power policies interferes with the development of renewable energy and effective energy storage technology. He stressed that agreeing to government subsidies for new nuclear power build is a breach of promise.
Paul Dorfman, a nuclear policy academic, pointed out that the country’s nuclear power stations supply 4% of the total energy in the United Kingdom and countries which promote nuclear power are in a global minority. Renewable energy is growing in Germany after switching to a non-nuclear power policy and is giving rise to even more jobs. He insisted that the United Kingdom should follow the same path. The total amount of radiation, according to Dorfman, from Fukushima Daiichi Plant amounts to 40% of that of Chernobyl.
Professor Stephen Thomas criticized the hefty subsidies for nuclear power plants as being illegal under EU law, additionally waste treatment and storage were not included in the government’s costing of nuclear power plants. Without government subsidies, nuclear power plants cannot compete with other power generation methods. The French company EDF which is responsible for new nuclear build at Hinkley, said it would pull out from this contract unless the UK government agreed to sufficient subsidies. In the second half of the meeting, there were speeches introducing the situation in Japan.
The artist Jeff Reed, who took refuge in the United Kingdom after the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accidents, introduced drawings by affected children. He took photos of people at the meeting holding up the drawings and said he wanted to create an artwork to encourage the children from Fukushima. Reed said information regarding the nuclear accident was withheld to assist the Government and power companies. As a result, the lives of many children were placed at risk.
Fukushima Children's pictures
Houses of Commons, London 11.3.13
A representative from the World Network for Saving Children from Radiation, said children have been living in the contaminated zone and appeared to have a higher rate of thyroid cancer than those children affected by the Chernobyl accident. He pointed out that under the agreement between WHO and IAEA signed in 1959, WHO cannot survey and report exposure levels without the agreement of IAEA which is not neutral on nuclear. He said mothers in Fukushima expressing serious concern about radiation, were isolated from local residents and family members with different opinions on radiation, causing fragmentation of families and communities on top of worries about the effects of internal radiation.
A representative from JAN UK detailed the danger of radiation, especially internal radiation hazards and pointed out that the health hazards of Chernobyl or Fukushima were potentially underestimated by WHO. She also mentioned the circumstances prevailing after the bombing of Hiroshima. IAEA safety standards were set arbitrarily by a comparative study showing radiation damage lower than the actual level. She also criticised the means and method used by nuclear power promoters manipulating information and suppressing the freedom of speech of anti-nuclear movements. In order to stop global contamination and for future generations to survive, she appealed for the strong solidarity of citizens across the world.
The last speech by a representative of Kick Nuclear, an anti-nuclear organisation, highlighted Germany’s bold nuclear-free and renewable energy promotion policies which are the only realistic energy policy direction and demonstrate that a nuclear-free world is not impossible. She concluded by saying that the UK should aim for a nuclear-free future by following Germany’s example.
As each speech significantly exceeded the expected time, there was hardly any time left for Q & A. It was also a pity that not enough time was left to make a mailing list of those who wanted more information later. As we had so many speakers, the meeting time could have been extended to 3 hours or divided into 2 sessions for different themes. It is hoped to make improvements for any similar meeting in future. Enthusiastic discussions between speakers and participants continued inside and outside of the venue after the meeting.