Greenpeace nuclear campaigner Shaun Burnie in front of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, five years after the accident. The environmental organization has launched an underwater investigation into the marine impacts of radioactive contamination on the Pacific Ocean resulting from the 2011 nuclear disaster,
By Bahk Eun-ji
March 13, 2020
Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist at Greenpeace Germany, has been working in Fukushima since 1997 to stop the operation of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, with much of his time based in Japan.
Among a number of nuclear experts around the world who have been condemning the Japanese government’s plan to discharge radioactive water from the destroyed Fukushima power plant into the Pacific Ocean, Burnie claims this issue is clearly important to Koreans as they understand the risks of nuclear energy and care about the environment.
“Fukushima is a defining issue of this time as it continues to pose a threat to the environment not just of Japan but the Asia Pacific region. This is a nuclear disaster with no end and Koreans realize that only by speaking up and opposing bad decisions can the progress be made in protecting our environment,” he said.
The nuclear expert said the opposition in Korea to the Japanese government’s plan to discharge contaminated water from Fukushima is entirely justified and essential, so the opposition should continue here in Korea. At the same time, Koreans also should be supporting the local Japanese communities who are opposed to the discharges.
Burnie also said the discharges of the contaminated water are a direct threat to the marine ecosystem and human health as all radioactivity has the potential to cause harm as technically there is no safe level of exposure. The discharges are more than tritium, which can cause damage to human and non-human DNA, but also many other radionuclides such as strontium that, even if processing of the contaminated water is successful, will still be discharged in enormous quantities.
“None of this can be justified from an environmental perspective when there is a clear alternative ― long term storage and processing to remove radionuclides, including tritium.”
The Japanese government has sought for many years to deny that there are radiation risks in Fukushima, which is a central part of their strategy to support nuclear power. By creating the illusion that Fukushima has recovered from the 2011 disaster, the Japanese government think they can convince people to support the restarting of nuclear reactors although the majority of Japanese people are against it.
“It is one reason why the human rights of tens of thousands of Fukushima citizens, including women and children, as well as tens of thousands of workers are violated consistently by the Japanese government,” he said.