Nuclear companies must pay for their disasters says Greenpeace

Feature story - March 7, 2013
Greenpeace Canada activists used a blimp at the uranium processing facility of General Electric Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GE Hitachi) in downtown Toronto this morning to mark the upcoming anniversary of the Fukushima disaster.

Outdated  liability laws in Japan have allowed GE Hitachi to avoid paying compensation to victims following the meltdown of its nuclear reactor.

“If GE Hitachi provided nuclear reactors in Canada, they could walk away from their responsibility in Canada just as easily they did in Japan,” warned Shawn-Patrick Stensil, a nuclear analyst with Greenpeace. “The laws in Canada and Japan are designed to protect the nuclear companies, not the people living near their reactors.”

The Fukushima disaster on 11 March 2011 caused the evacuation of over 100,000 people and left many families and businesses bankrupt in its wake. The damages, estimated at $250 billion, are mostly being shouldered by Japanese taxpayers. And Fukushima’s victims can’t sue GE Hitachi because the liability law protects reactor suppliers even if the company is negligent.

Last month, Greenpeace International released a report entitled “Fukushima Fallout: nuclear business makes people pay and suffer” showing how faulty design and components supplied by GE and Hitachi may have contributed to large radioactive releases from the reactors. Video testimonial from a former GE engineer described how GE Hitachi was aware of flaws in the Fukushima reactors, but covered them up instead of fixing them.

“GE and Hitachi continue to make billions in profit while victims of Fukushima pay for the damage caused by their reactors. The unfair laws in Japan and Canada must be changed to protect people instead of the nuclear industry“ said Stensil.

Greenpeace Canada is collecting petition signatures asking the Harper government to revise the “Nuclear Liability Act” and make nuclear polluters pay. Similar events to today’s  at the Dupont and Lansdowne plant are being held in Belgium, France and Germany.