Four years ago the world watched in horror as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants exploded across our TV screens and spewed radioactive waste into air and sea. In commemoration of this anniversary, we asked Greenpeace volunteers, staff, supporters and allies to share some of their own memories. Many have also shared their hopes for a #ZeroNuclear tomorrow. We hope you will too.
Malcolm Carroll is from Wales in the UK, and works with People Against Wylfa B to oppose a new reactor. He tweets @Gobhoblin
“Last year in Fukushima, I saw for myself the natural disaster of the tsunami and the man-made nuclear disaster. I met children who had not been allowed outside for 6 months, families who cannot return to their family homes and have nothing to pass on to their children. In 2011, I was in Wales, grieving for people as the disaster unfolded— and growing angry. The same people who brought us Fukushima want to build new reactors in Wales. Was Fukushima a man-made disaster, which could have been prevented? Mr Naoto Kan, Japan’s Prime Minister at the time, says that the Fukushima disaster started when we first said yes to nuclear. He’s here in Wales now to help Wales prevent a nuclear disaster by stopping the building of new reactors.”
Dr. Rianne Teule
Dr. Rianne Teule is the Campaign Director at GP Belgium, a nuclear expert and lifetime advocate of a nuclear-free world. She tweets @RianneTeule
“It was a Friday morning. I opened my computer in the Greenpeace office in Johannesburg and saw the news about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Within 5 minutes, various nuclear campaigners all over the world exchanged information via Skype about the status of the nuclear power plants in the affected region. By lunchtime it was clear that something was seriously going wrong with the Fukushima Daiichi plant. My body trembled from a mix of emotions, mostly fear and overwhelming concern for those whose lives could be destroyed. Three days later, I joined the Greenpeace Fukushima Rapid Response Team in Amsterdam. And two weeks after, driving through the contaminated areas around Fukushima, I saw the levels on my radiation monitors rise, and it hit me hard: I am entering a new ‘Chernobyl’ area, where hundreds of thousands of people are involuntarily being exposed to high radiation levels…”
Ful Ugurhan is a physician from Mersin in Turkey and the current spokesperson for Mersin Anti-Nuclear Platform. Anti-Nuclear Platform tweets @NKPTurkiye
“Mersin is where the first nuclear power plant in Turkey (Akkuyu Project) is planned to be installed. I was in Mersin when I heard about Fukushima. My first thought was “I was unfortunately right”. I had just campaigned against the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, stating how risky the investment is in terms of health effects due to waste and accidents. Also, the Akkuyu region is an earthquake zone, so many people held up Fukushima as an example to stress the immense risks. Fukushima means ‘Nuclear Disaster’ for me. I always support energy efficiency as a first step, not dangerous nuclear investments. I believe that we can easily supply the necessary energy by renewable energy.”
Dagmar Dehmer is a journalist at Der Tagesspiegel newspaper and she lives in Berlin in Germany. She tweets @dpomondi
“I produced the pages of our newspaper on the 11th of March 2011. When the breaking news of an earthquake came in and minutes later of the Tsunami, I knew it would be a long evening. The reactors of Fukushima Daiichi lost power. I knew this would be a disaster if power for the cooling pumps could not be restored. When I left in the middle of the night I was very worried. The next morning I heard the news and there was still no power. I was unsure if I should already write that a core meltdown was likely. I did not want to cause panic but I knew it was true. I called half a dozen nuclear experts, they all shared my bad feeling. I believe without Fukushima the German nuclear power stations would have run at least ten years longer. I really hope that Fukushima is the last core meltdown we will see. Nature developed very well with the sun as its energy source. I hope, we humans learn from that experience.”
Patrick is from Lyon in France, and supports Greenpeace as a volunteer.
“On March 11, 2011, I was just on my way to the “Primevère” in Lyon, a major environmental event in the region. We went there to put up a Greenpeace booth and while driving in the car, we heard the announcement of the earthquake and the tsunami hazard. After we had set up the booth, we started talking about what was happening in Japan with friends from other anti-nuclear groups. Everyone was trying to find out more and get online information by using their smartphones. Over the 3-day event, we first realized that there was actually a widespread tsunami and then that a nuclear power plant was affected. From this time, the name Fukushima was burned in our memories. We knew a disaster had happened without daring to imagine the magnitude of its consequences. It was a very unusual weekend. In other years, we used to have fun when meeting each other, but this year the event was overshadowed with anxiety. In my opinion, we have to close nuclear plants in order to prevent another Fukushima!”
Aytac Tolga Timur
Aytac Tolga Timur is a passionate ecology activist, living in Istanbul in Turkey.
“When the Chernobyl plant exploded, I was 16 years old. I didn’t know anything about nuclear power at that time. It was first when I came into my 20s and joined the environmental movement, when I started to understand how precious and delicate the environment is; my city, my country and my planet. I was following nuclear issues and whenever I read or saw news, I was anxious a nuclear accident could have happened. Then, one day I heard that Japanese people were threatened by radiation in Fukushima. I remember Chernobyl and the increased cancer rates after the accident. Agricultural lands and rivers were contaminated. After the Fukushima nuclear accident, the same issues had to be faced in different locations, by different people, animals and by the entire nature. Why? For What? In order to understand the value of life, you don’t need to be a wise person. Unfortunately, decision makers were not able to see that.”
Floran is from Bordeaux in France, he was a school student in 2011.
“When I heard about the disaster at Fukushima, I was still in High School. I watched the news on TV at home the day after the earthquake. I saw the tsunami sweeping away the boats and the bridges, but I still didn’t really understand how powerful it was. I was concerned. Teachers were talking about a possible core meltdown of the reactor extending down to the center of the earth… I never believed in that, but I still wonder why there were nuclear reactors in Japan, in an area with such high level risks! I hope the growth of renewable energies will happen fast and people stop building vulnerable nuclear power plants in such hazard areas.”
Wong Wing Fung
Wong Wing Fung is a Hong Kong based artist and curator, who uses her creativity and imagination to tell a story of a nuclear past, present and future.
“I was at the ferry pier watching the news report while waiting for the next ferry across the harbor in Hong Kong. It may seem that Hong Kong is very far from you, yet the world seems much smaller when disaster occurs. I was very shocked as I was already working on the Chernobyl anniversary art project at that time. After this disaster had happened, I was even more certain to connect stories of Chernobyl to Japan and Hong Kong. I am hoping these heartbreaking stories of Chernobyl might help us all to be courageous, face the nuclear crisis and fight for a clean energy future and positive living.”
In Japan today, all the reactors have been offline for the last 18 months, but the Abe Government wants to restart the nuclear power plants, even though the overwhelming majority of Japanese people do not. Add your name today, to show the Japanese policy-makers and their industry allies, that we believe a #ZeroNuclear future is possible, for Japan and the world.
If you would like to share your own story and hope for our shared energy future in the comments, please feel welcome. (note: we may tweet items from the comments, we will ask you first)
Hisayo Takada is the Energy Campaign Leader at Greenpeace Japan.
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